Today was the day that the donkeys down on the Main Yard were 'turned out' onto the spring grass. For those of you watching the webcams earlier, you would have seen about 50 donkeys galloping around their paddock... who would believe that some of them are over 40 years of age! As this was their first time this year, they can only be out there for about an hour while they adjust to eating the young grass shoots.
With them all happy, I took a walk around the Sanctuary and was drawn like a magnet to George, a handsome little foal, with Bonny his mother. Being only a little foal, I got down onto my knees and sat by the fence just watching him. Curiosity got the better of him and it wasn't long before he decided to come over and investigate the camera lens and then with his warm breath and soft nose, he nuzzled himself close against me. A lovely shared moment with him. And just like youngsters, his attention was soon onto other things and off he went to explore some more.
So it was time for me to get up and go and do my own exploring... enjoy the photos as I walk you round just a very small part of the Sanctuary :-)
It was good to see so many donkeys that I know as well as meeting new donkeys that have joined some the groups. There's Bramble and Jasper at Shelter 4 who's devotion to each other is so clear for everyone to see. Just standing by the gate and watching you can spot them because they are side by side all the time. So touching and shows the depth of their friendship.
At Shelter 3 I took a photo of a donkey with her head the other side of a fence nibbling at the grass (don't they say the grass is always greener on the other side!). I waited and watched. Then I called her name. Baby caught the sound on the air and titling her head to one side, she slowly followed the direction of where her name was being called. For Shelter 3 is where the blind and partially sighted donkeys live.
It was lovely to see Baby again as the last time I saw her was last year when she was being introduced to the blind group. Understandably she was a little nervous of the new surroundings but today, just watching her, she walked around the paddock full of confidence. This is why I am just so much in awe of this group of donkeys - unless you know they are blind or partially sited, you would never know because they have adapted to their environment.
Of course I couldn't walk passed Shelter 2 where the "Sidmouth Six" lovingly referred to in Angela Harlow's blog spend their days frolicking around. And who should be looking directly at the camera with a huge grin on his face, but Ashley!
At Shelter 2 I sat down on one of the memorial benches and watched two of the donkeys mutually grooming each other. They were in their own little world for about 5 minutes while the other donkeys stood perfectly still enjoying the heat of the sunshine. The spell was broken when a donkey called Bridget filled her lungs and let out a very loud bray answering the sound of a bray in the distance!