A year after Mark and Jill welcomed Rosie and Daisy into their home they wrote an update for The Donkey Sanctuary Welfare Team, and their Donkey Welfare Adviser Sue Field.
If it wasn’t for the wonder of Facebook “reminding” us of the event one year ago when our donkeys arrived we may well have forgotten. The girls have become so much a part of our lives that it feels like they have always been with us.
We have two donkeys, Rosie and Daisy - originally Delta but we didn’t think that was a very girly name! Both are from Ireland and now seven years old. Daisy is small and chocolate-coloured, Rosie is a more traditional donkey colour and a little bigger.
Our story is probably not unique. We moved to what the estate agents call an “equestrian property” three years ago but although we are animal lovers neither of us are particularly horsey and we simply enjoyed having the outdoor space.
After a while we realised that it was a shame to have the facilities (stables, ménage, paddocks) but not use them for anything. We started our collection of livestock with a handful of chickens, now expanded to a flock of 14 plus three ducks, but that still left plenty of space. Our thought processes ran through the range of animals we could have but pigs would create a sea of mud, cows are too big, goats too inclined to escape and alpacas are surprisingly expensive! We then had a moment of inspiration and thought about donkeys.
A simple email to The Donkey Sanctuary was swiftly followed by a call and visit from Donkey Welfare Adviser Sue Field, and before long we were on the re-homing list and doing our basic training. Then came a visit to Devon to meet our prospective foster donkeys and apart from a minor hiccup with the final vet inspection, we were soon waiting with great excitement for them to arrive.
The biggest animal transporter I have ever seen arrived and the only two passengers came confidently out and were soon exploring their new surroundings.
The settling-in advice from The Donkey Sanctuary was perfect - don’t try to do too much too soon. Over the next few weeks we gradually stepped up the level of contact, both from ourselves and the frequent visits from friends, family and neighbours. At no time has either of the girls been anything other than friendly and sociable and they are now firm favourites in the neighbourhood.
During the past year the donkeys have coped brilliantly with visits from the farrier, the vet (routine vaccinations only), meeting the resident cats, chickens, ducks and more recently sheep. One of our favourite moments is when we sit in the stable yard surrounded by donkeys, cats and chickens all attempting to get the most fuss!
So what have we learnt this first year?
- The two girls really are inseparable. If one is groomed the other has to be too, if the farrier is working on one of them the other will be keeping a very close eye on him, if one has a carrot or the ultimate treat of a ginger nut biscuit then there is no way the other one will miss out!
- They are mischievous... given the opportunity to limbo dance under a fence then they will. We are often alerted to a “drama” when the chickens have been shoo’ed out their house by a donkey nose looking for a snack or corn.
- They are scared of a tape measure, yes really! Trying to measure their girth has proved a challenge and only resolved by distraction of cuddles and carrots.
- They are great guard animals and will let us know when someone they don’t know comes to the front door. They also do their best to scare away any deer that venture too close to their field.
- Rolling around in the sand or grass is a pleasure to repeat as often as possible.