We received a lovely story from Victoria Bell, an avid donkey lover, who has dedicated a story she has written to her late father, Ronald Wyatt, who lived in Branscombe, Devon for the last 39 years. Victoria and her dad shared a great love and respect for donkeys and the work done at the Sanctuary. Victoria’s father was an artist and tried to complete drawings to illustrate the stories. Sadly, due to his illness, he didn’t manage to complete them all.
We are sure you’ll enjoy the story just as much as we did.
In the small town nestled in the foothills of southern Spain, there was a donkey called Jacob. Jacob the donkey lived in a shabby, run down farm with Pedro the farmer, where he lived off the land as best he could. It was a hard life with the challenge of drought, severe heat and poor crop yields, but nevertheless Pedro and Jacob worked long and hard day by day.
Jacob was growing old and weary, but so too, the years of hardship were taking their toll on Pedro.
Pedro was a scruffy, short, country man of sixty or so, who in his younger days was quite robust and handsome. With the years of hard farm life he was thin and tired with a nasty cough.
Jacob was loyal to his master as they had lived together for many years, after being bought by Pedro in the market town. At the time, Jacob was a young naive donkey who was an orphan; he had no idea what donkeys had to do on the land for his master. He was just so grateful that he had a chance of a new life on a farm, as he had only known markets.
Long hot days from dawn to nightfall, Pedro and Jacob would work on the land; Jacob dutifully fetched and carried heavy loads with no question. He was rewarded at the end of the day with a small pail of straw and water but Jacob always felt hungry after, it didn’t seem to fulfil him. Jacob had learnt to quietly accept his lot. He had sores on his back where he carried the loads, they would burn when he tried to nestle down at the end of the day and his hooves were painfully sore. Collapsed with sheer exhaustion, when he had done his work. He knew the next day would be more of the same; lifting, carrying, pulling and his body would ache some more.
It was a simple, hard, humble life for Jacob; he wondered if all donkeys in faraway places had the same way of life as him...he hoped they didn’t.
One very hot day Pedro was ill and couldn’t manage the farm, so Jacob was left to fend for himself. He had no work instructions from his master and Jacob was lonely and painfully hungry and thin. There was no food, no water and no company.
Life couldn’t get any worse for him. Pedro had died and been taken away but no one had come back for the farm or for poor Jacob.
It must have been days and days, Jacob desperately tried to live off what the sunshine hadn’t burnt away...life was slipping away, until one day he just about got a weak glimpse of two people coming to him. They had a bucket of water, it was like a dream. Jacob lapped up the cool water, it was welcome, and he was parched with thirst. Jacob was far too weak and neglected in health to impress them; all he could do was to stare solemnly at them.
Before he knew it, Jacob was taken away from the life he knew, the farm and dry land. He was in a barn that had soft straw to lie on and food and water aplenty.
For a strange moment, he wondered if he had died and gone to heaven, life seemed too good to be true! He didn’t have to pull or carry loads and his hooves were not as sore. How he got to this sanctuary, he couldn’t remember, as he was far too weak. This place was wonderful! He had never known a place that was green and lush, with rolling fields of green grass and trees. He could feel the rain when he was put outside on the field with lots of donkeys like himself, what a delight. His companions had come from various places over the world and all had sad stories to tell, some more awful than his own. His pen mate had nightmares, he would fret and kick out his hooves whenever he had human company, poor Tinto had been beaten with sticks, he was in a sorry state.
Day by day, Jacob felt better; he was allowed to walk freely in the fields with the other donkeys all day to graze. By evening they were called in for their food and given a comfortable barn to lie down in. When morning came they were groomed by lovely, kind staff and their hooves manicured and cleaned. Jacob felt younger and full of life, so content in his new home with his new donkey companions.
Jacob was so thrilled, he couldn’t resist rolling on his back and rubbing his groomed coat on the grass, legs in the air and laughing while all the donkeys around him looked on!
In all they realised that life was great!
Thanks to The Donkey Sanctuary where he was rescued.
With all the care, attention to the donkeys needs and respect they so deserve, we must thank all the staff and offer our support to The Donkey Sanctuary near Sidmouth.
Victoria wanted to thank The Donkey Sanctuary for the dedication to these humble lovely animals, and for giving her a childhood treasured memory.