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January 2010

Currently, the Eastern Cape is experiencing a serious drought which is evidenced by the total lack of grass, not only in our camps but all over the Metro.  On returning in the midday sun from a Grahamstown Donkey Clinic, I was shocked at the state of the grazing at Nanaga – there is none!   We are in desperate need of life giving rain.  Thankfully there have been generous donations of fodder in addition to that which we have bought in: Thank you to Equifeeds, Feed and Seed, Ian and Nina, Christine, Meg and Colin.

At the same time, we are trying to do our best as regards water usage and this includes catching the contents of the sink in a bucket under the outlet pipe and emptying it onto the grass. We are a no-waste organization – as my Mum used to say, Waste not, Want not.

This brings to mind that during the month, someone (wait till I find him!) switched off the main water valve that feeds the AWS premises which meant we were all completely out of water for hundreds of dogs and cats as well as our donks.  Thanks to AWS Inspector Hannes, a 1000 litre water tank was brought in and that meant that Stefan and I could fill jerry cans and top up everyone’s bucket and trough.  Thank goodness for Stefan who was able to lift up the cans as they were way too heavy for me.  This was all followed up by Sally pitching up with all her available receptacles full of water to assist.  Of course, that bloke Murphy ensured that as soon as we had filled everything by hand, the problem was found and sorted by the NMMM Water Department!

Daisy’s foal that was born on New Years Day has grown into a foal with attitude and the splitting image of her mother.  She was named Gift by a bunch of Kiara’s riders who came to ‘groom the donkeys’.   They did such a good job that the girls were queuing up at the gate for their turn in the ‘salon’!  Older riders were given charge of the Fly Repellant (donated) and all told, everyone, including the jennies, had a great time.   Thank you, Kiara.

This was followed by an AWS volunteer dog walker who left the dogs and came and spent time grooming the donkeys.  Thank you Kirsten.

The Jenny that we brought in on the last day of 2009 recovered but before she was returned to her very relieved owner, she slipped a stillborn foal.

The Jack that had been treated for a stallion bite to his bottom was found to have almost completely healed.

Sadly, Gabriel, the Thoroughbred adopted out to Lauren in East London, died of a heart attack after a bad bout of colic.  Lauren was shattered as he had made and therefore left, a huge hole in her heart.  Gabriel started out as Phantom Thunder but after his racing career, found himself in unhappy places.  He was surrendered to us and was given a second chance and I believe he knew it because he gained his weight back and was doing well in shows before he died.  His pictures were sent to you with the October 2009 newsletter.  We thank Lauren for adopting him sight unseen and working through a difficult situation to where he was what he should have been all along and giving him two years of fulfillment and life and his rider an enormous amount of pleasure.

Ayanda, who had identified himself as a potential farrier, is continuing to work with Treloar and has shown an aptitude for the job.  He has progressed sufficiently to now work on his own.  He is also shortly to become the proud owner of a Birth Certificate which means he will be able to apply for the much longed for ID book that means he will be able to open a Bank Account. Not bad when you consider that he is 19 years old!  The Unit is proud that we have facilitated him.  Well done, Ayanda!

During January, a trip sponsored by the Donkey Sanctuary UK, allowed Dee (Animal Issues Matter, Cape Town) and I to travel again to Pretoria to discuss the minimum standards for donkey harnessing in South Africa at a national level with the Department of Transport and the SA Bureau of Standards.  We all know the discomfort we feel when our clothes are too tight or ill fitting and so the ability to change what our donkeys ‘wear’ is the concern of many.  (It did make me feel quite sick seeing the area between Johannesburg and Pretoria all green with all the rain they have been experiencing lately!).   The Donkey Sanctuary UK is involved with donkey issues in many countries and are happy to provide their assistance and knowledge where possible and I have a very happy memory of visiting them two years ago in Sidmouth with my son and his children - I have a happy snap of the three of them perched on a plaster donkey at the Sanctuary.  And we found too that Alyssa has a soft spot for the donks too – must be in the genes!

An interesting aspect of our fieldwork is returning the following month to find that someone has listened and because of this, the problem is solved.  On a trip to Grahamstown, Mzudu was having a problem with speedy cutting of the hind legs of his donkey and this worried him.  After some remedial farrier work, it was decided at the suggestion of Stefan, to give him a pair of (horse) brushing boots for the hind legs.  Yes, they were way too big, but on a return trip it was found that Mzudu had continued with the boots and that the problem was solved – and the donkey looked very cute with his booties on.   To whoever donated the boots, they are being well used – Thank you.

And then we have Caryll.  Caryll lives near Walmer township and has taken to giving the donkeys heading out to graze, water on request.  The donkeys know her house and pop in and ask for water. The Unit has given her a water container too, to make it easier for her and her family to ensure that the donkeys don’t use her birdbath to quench their thirst.  She has been given a bag of Equifeeds food to enable her to keep them in, while smsing that she has visitors and until either we or the owner comes looking for them.  At this stage, it is working well.  Thank you Caryll for caring!

Over the years we have taken to removing grotty and totally inappropriate bits from carters and replacing them with proper donkey bits. (How the ‘heavy duty’ bits get into circulation is another question!)  The problem is how to ensure that they can never be used again, which is where Stefan pops up again.  He arrived with a grinder and cut them up so that when they are sold to the scrap dealer they are unusable and cannot be sold on to some other poor donkey or horse owner!

Then we have incidences where reports are received about horses who appear to be in substandard condition.  In one case I learned that the one horse is 34 and the other is 32 – which is why they look the way they do.  The other horses on the property are in fine condition.  They are given the best treatment and suitable feed available for their age, but as we all know age has that affect on people as well as horses.  Or there was the case with the horse with a potential broken leg.  Thanks to an alert neighbor and the SAPS Sector Policeman, we were able to advise the horse owner that his horse had a problem and in due course, his Vet arrived and solved the problem.

We have a cart owner who has become stricken with TB and his main concern were his donkeys and cart which led to the request that we take his donkeys and cart in for safekeeping until he is sufficiently better to reclaim them.   He, as well as me, sleep better at night knowing that the two donks are fed and watered and not playing in the traffic!  The wheels of the cart have also been removed and stored to prevent mischevious use.

Bless foaled down in the last week of January, and Stompie is due any day now.  I think the mares get a little miffed when they are moved from the maternity ward to the general ward!   And the public just love the babies!

As you may or may not know, rats are a huge problem in the townships.  Apparently the effects of Rattex have declined and so the latest fashion is weed killer.  This is put onto a suitable base like mielie meal and put out for the rats and in due course, is emptied into some vacant space, just waiting for a donkey to come along and have a nibble.  Which is why I had a frantic owner at 7.30 on a Sunday morning yelling for help.  It was a very tense day altogether following a trip to the Vet, but amazingly the effects wore off by the following morning and the donkey has made a remarkable recovery.  Frightening thought!

The public has been active too: Rina phoned me during a meeting to say that there were donkeys standing outside AWS at 6.30 at night and could I please go and get them in.  Done! And Thank you Rina. 

I tried so hard yesterday to squeeze this newsletter in between a colicky Uitenhage township horse, a mare with ‘mastitis’ that turned out to be a snakebite and an operation, but did not succeed.  But more of this next time…



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