Hello, we thought it was about time we gave you a little update from Town Barton Farm.
Due to the high rainfall recently all of our donkeys and mules are back on winter routine until the sun dries out the fields, meaning a diet of haylage and turn out only in our sand-school. It means a slightly easier life for the grooms as we don't have to traipse up and down the hills all day letting them out into their fields and bringing them in again; however we would all prefer a harder life and be able to see our mules and donkeys out enjoying the grass at this time of the year.
Instead, to try and keep them active and from being bored we've come up with some enrichment ideas. For example, we have hung up empty plastic milk bottles for them to bat about and tied old name collars to the fences for them to play with and pull about. In a couple of the smaller groups we have even hung up old buckets from the ceiling with holes drilled in the bottom and we put a handful of pony nuts in to encourage the animals to play! When they do play and knock the bucket about some pony nuts fall out of the holes in the bottom and reward them!
Also, as we mentioned earlier, we are trying to turn out the groups into our sand-school as frequently as possible for them to have a run around and get some exercise. They all enjoy a roll in the sand too!
We have several sets of lightweight plastic show-jumps too, and we put them up at varying heights around the school and the mules in particular love them. Some choose to go around the jumps, but many go round and round jumping over them and playing, and we think we've some budding show-jumpers in the making!