The clocks have changed – and so have a number of other things here at the Donkey Sanctuary. Nothing drastic you understand, but little things like, “Where are the little donkeys NOW???” Phil and I trooped over to Salston Boxes to say good morning to Ashley, Zena and Mr Khan and instead of seeing them bouncing playfully around the paddock, we found Mr Nedd, Hugo and Eros dozing in the early morning sunshine! The only evidence of the little donks ever being there was Ashley's discarded welly boot lying by the fence. Deciding that the three elderly donkeys ensconced in Salston Boxes were unlikely to play with the welly boot, we retrieved it and set off to find its' rightful owners.
Checking Shelter 2 was our first port of call, but Muffin and his gang were still happily living there with no sign of Ashley and the others. We did however meet a new arrival called Noodles who seemed very friendly and was keen for an ear scratch and a chat over the fence.
Next we went to see the blind and partially-sighted donkeys in Shelter 3, where we abandoned our search for the little donks and spent an hour grooming and cuddling Peter, Jenny, Souffle and the rest of this lovable group. It was here that we noticed another definite change – the donkeys and Dillon the pony had managed to grow their winter coats in one week! Well, maybe not their entire winter coat, but there was definitely a lot more than last week! I especially noticed the donkeys' fringes – lovely thick and very cute! In a few more weeks, a lot of the donkeys will be wearing their winter rugs too.
Picking up the welly boot again, we said goodbye to Peter and co and set off to resume our search for the little donkeys. Perhaps they were down on the main yard learning the ropes for the Meet and Greet Team with Billy and Jubilee? When we reached the yard we discovered yet another change - there were no donkeys to be seen at all, and definitely no Ashley and co! Noticing all the visitors inside the viewing area in the barn, we went in to see what was going on. All the donkeys were inside and Billy, Jubilee and the usual yard team were near the visitors' area posing for pictures and socialising as usual. Ah... sensible donkeys like to keep dry and warm during the winter months!
Leaving the welly boot outside, Phil and I collected some grooming brushes and went back into the barn to spend some time with these donkeys. Holly rushed straight over for some love and attention. She is a pretty dappled-grey donkey I have come to know during my stints on the main yard and Holly loves being groomed. Ummm... another change has occurred - we are in the season of mud! Donkeys love to roll in the dust, but if there is no dust, they will happily settle for lovely sticky mud instead!
Meanwhile, Phil found himself being nudged by a very muddy looking Tim! Tim is the Shetland pony that was rescued last year with Laurel and Hardy. He is a very friendly little pony and he stood patiently while Phil brushed off all the mud, and then showed his appreciation by sticking to Phil's side like glue for the rest of our time in the barn! After Holly, I spent some time brushing an awful lot of dried mud off Bruno. Bruno has made so much progress this summer with his self-confidence. For so long he was afraid of everything, including his own shadow, but gradually through being taken for walks and spending small amounts of time on the yard, he has learned that life is not such a threat after all!
After we'd finished in New Barn, Phil and I wandered back up the path towards Shelter 6, which had been left empty since Eros and Mr Nedd moved out. Of course, it was obvious really...there they were, six little donkeys playing down by the wood. As soon as Ashley saw us he bounded over, grabbed the welly boot from my hand and proceeded to shake it aloft, spraying us with flecks of mud and water as he did so.
So there we have it – if you come to the Donkey Sanctuary to see Ashley, Zena, Mr Khan, Skippy, Rav and Mars – they have changed shelters and are now living in Shelter 6.... at least for now!