Autumn here in Devon is a wonderful time of year, especially with the coming of Apple Day this weekend. For this is the time when local growers celebrate Britain's wonderful native apples. Apple Day was originally a way of celebrating and demonstrating the variety of apples we are in danger of losing - not simply in apples, but richness and diversity of landscape, place, ecology and culture too.
Now, you might be asking what's the connection between Apple Day and the Sanctuary and here's the thing... not only do we have a handful of donkeys called Apple in our care but also back in January of this year, our wildlife expert, James Chubb, led an orchard planting and woodland working party which introduced 16 native apple trees to the Field of Dreams.
Looking at our records, I can see we have two donkeys living at the Sanctuary called Apple and I couldn't resist adding Applejack too so we're celebrating our own apples this weekend!
Apple (aged 13) and pictured above, came into our care in 2005 and was quite difficult to handle. She was only 6 years old at the time and larger than the average sized donkey. When Apple arrived she used to kick out whenever she felt like it and didn’t want the grooms to handle her. But with hours of patient handling, Apple has transformed into a big softy! She follows the grooms around whenever they are in the barn and loves cuddles.
You may remember Apple (aged 17) who came into the Derbyshire Centre in 2010 and later travelled to our Sanctuary here in Devon once she was fit to travel.
After examination, she was found to be already in foal and in May 2011, Apple gave birth to a beautiful dark chocolate brown foal who we named Sven.
If you are visiting the Sanctuary, you can find Sven living in our young foal group at Shelter 2.
Take a walk to Trow Farm just across the way from the main yard and you'll be able to see Apple in Rennie's Barn. She's a very affectionate donkey and will quite happily spend time in your company.
Applejack (aged 3) is a very sweet young donkey. He originally came into one of our Irish holding bases and then travelled to Devon in 2011.
Applejack lives at Paccombe Farm where the grooms are training him to become part of our ever growing rehoming scheme. For Applejack to be able to go out to a home with a companion donkey he will need to be caught with ease, walk nicely when being led and well behaved when groomed and having his feet picked out.
The good news is he's well on his way to getting put forward.
Talking of rehoming donkeys... we do have one other donkey called Applejack (aged 25) who originally came into our care in 1988 but now lives happily in a foster home with his donkey friend Spocky (aged 28).
If you would like to know the varieties of apples that have been planted in our Field of Dreams, here's the full list. What's more, they are all west country cider varieties!
Brown’s Apple Maiden
Colman Seedling Maiden
Harry Marston’s Jersey
Harry Marston’s Jersey Maiden
Kingston Black Maiden
Morgan Sweet Maiden
Morgon Sweet Mainden
Sweet Alford Maiden