So Elma, how on earth do you look after those donkeys?
That’s a question I’m asked on a regular basis and the answer is “it depends on the donkey” as they’re always our top priority. I have 5 of my own donkeys to care for as well as The Donkey Sanctuary donkeys who have come to me after being rescued or if they’re not well enough to travel down to Devon. With that many donkeys to look after our family work as a team on the farm. Everyone has their chores to do and whoever is finished first goes to see where they can lend a hand.
The day is very flexible in that we often have to accommodate the Vet and Farrier during the donkeys’ time with us. We try, where possible not to upset the routine. Once the donkeys have been with us for a while they soon get in to the way of working and it’s amazing just how they improve both bodily and behaviour wise.
As a Welfare Adviser I’m also often out and about. This is the part of the job I love – out meeting donkeys. Sometimes this side of the work isn’t so nice when you have to deal with animals not as well off as those in our charge. But that’s another story.
When I’m ‘on the road’ my family see to the chores so that I don’t have to worry. I have up-to-date feed charts in the tack room so the boys know who has to get what and when. Everything is centred around the donkeys.
It’s always busy but if I had to describe a typical day then it tends to look something like this:
- 0630 hours Open up the yard. Check donkeys and feed.
- 0700 hours Breakfast and discussion on the day’s proceedings.
- 0800 hours Turn out donkeys (those who can be), muck out the stables and refresh the water buckets, making sure we fill the mangers for the donkeys remaining inside.
- 1030 hours Coffee break.
- 1045 hours Catch up on paperwork and phone calls with the welfare team and vets.
- 1245 hours Lunch time.
- 1330 hours Pick out hooves, top up hay and water, tidy the paddock, pull down the beds and top up the straw, fill water buckets.
- 1500 hours Catch and stable donkeys to begin settling them in for the night, being sure to pick out their hooves. Remediation work, helping to socialise nervous or recovering donkeys and preparing some for being rehomed.
- 1630 hours Begin evening stables including feeding them and refreshing the water buckets, plus administering medication where required.
- 1730 hours Close up stables.
- 1930 hours First evening check, making sure the water is topped up.
- 2100 hours Final check for the night.