By Alice Crawford, groom
Where do I start?! The Baker boys, Timothy and Walter, what a cheeky pair.
As soon as I started working at the Donkey Assisted Therapy Centre four years ago, the boys were always in my face, demanding attention, and wanting to be involved with everything going on.
So when Kat told me how Walter used to be very nervous when he first arrived, I couldn’t believe it. He is such a chilled out chap, oozing confidence, and knows exactly what he does and doesn’t want. This meant it was actually his decision to retire – he decided he ought to be spending his days mooching around the yard, and of course we couldn’t say no.
Walter has helped so many children over the years and deserves nothing more than a long and happy retirement.
Walter’s confidence can sometimes come across as being rather demanding. He is often the only donkey who won’t leave the yard when we want to start mucking out and it can be quite hard to coax him off the yard to join the others.
However, with a quiet whisper in his ear, and a promise of a ginger biscuit, he will happily march off and join Timothy and the rest of the herd waiting on the sand.
Timothy, on the other hand, is the joker of the group. He is always up to mischief and causing havoc on the yard. If he’s not stealing your broom, he’s knocking over the wheelbarrow or pushing the straw out of the feeder onto the floor. He knows when the camera is around too as he will often show off and smile, lifting his top lip.
Some of the donkeys at Cottage Barn end up with nicknames and Timothy seems to have quite a collection – we have been known to call him Tim, Timmy, Timotei, Timoney Cricket, Timbo, and - most popularly - Mothy. One day, the T and I on his collar were covered up, so it read, ‘mothy’ and since then the name has stuck.
Timothy, unlike Walter, has continued to interact with the children who visit the centre and has not been so keen to retire. He is an absolute star; he is ever so patient and has a heart of gold. Timothy is a very important and reliable member of the Donkey Assisted Therapy team and will be sorely missed, but equally is ever so deserving of some downtime in the paddock now, which I’m sure he will thoroughly enjoy.
When the boys are on the yard they are rarely seen apart, and are often planning on how to get into the feed store. All the doors at Cottage have special ‘donkey-proof’ bolts, as without them there is no doubt that Timothy would be able to unlock the door and raid the feed shed.
As soon as they hear the bolt open, the Baker boys are quick to make their way over, just in case they can squeeze through and get to the feed bins. And if you are not fast enough, Walter will sneak through and tip the bins over and Timothy will join him to feast on the chaff.
I will certainly miss the Baker boys. They are two very big characters who will leave a rather large hole at Cottage Barn – the yard will certainly be a lot quieter without them. I’m sure they will settle into their new shelter quickly and it won’t be long before they are getting up to just as much mischief. Have fun boys.