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December 2009

Firstly, here's wishing you a gr8 2010!  If this morning is anything to go by, the Unit will have a good one too!
On arriving to feed up in the much needed rain, I found that Daisy had finally delivered her foal and was taking no chances with the donkey in the next door camp who she felt was 'making eyes' at her baby and was charging the fence and even had a go at me, the food and beverages waiter!   The donkey mare next door was brought in very sick on the 31st December and even after the veterinary treatment, I was not too hopeful.  However, she has made a remarkable recovery and had eaten and had half a bucket of water to drink and even produced some scat - I am sure the Vet will be most happy as were Alfred and I.  This was all followed up by the chasing of three donkeys off Heugh Road into the township!
So there you have it - a great start to 2010!
As I look back over my shoulder at the past month, I see that we have been very, very busy.  Aside from copious amounts of feed collections  from Equifeeds and food deliveries to townships, there have been other folk popping in with bales of lucerne and oathay which have all helped to feed any equine visitors.  Our sincere thanks is extended to all donors!
We have also had 2 horses donated to us, one of which found an adoptor so pronto that he was only with us for a few hours!  The other horse was fostered to a family with one horse already that required a companion.  I am reliably informed that she has settled in well.  We also received three donkeys who are still with us, but I am sure they will move on soon.
We have had a ghastly time in December, losing four donkeys.  Although the animals are given the best veterinary treatment and care, there is only so much we can do.  Having made that platitude, I was very upset that having just named a 2 week old rejected foal and laid her on a soft bed - she just went to sleep - it was almost as though she was just hanging in there until she got her name, Petal.
A whole gaggle of new township owners 'found' us with the assistance of their family members and other welfare organisations.  They have already been included in the Food Delivery List and have received harnessing.
Our volunteer for the holidays, Stefan, has been fantastic.  His exuberance and energy of youth has meant that a whole raft of envisioned and incomplete jobs around the stables and camps have finally and eventually been handled.  He has been an absolute pleasure.  Thank you, Stefan, for giving up your free time and holidays to make a difference in our lives.
And then in the middle of everything, our horse cart owner had a catastrophe on William Moffett.  I was in Pretoria discussing with Cart Horse Protection Assocation and the NSPCA, National minimum donkey cart specifications with the Department of Transport and the CSIR, when the cellphone went berzerk!  Two horses and an unmovable cart in the pre-Christmas traffic on Moffett Expressway!  Thanks again to my special volunteer, Sharon Barclay, the two horses were picked up and taken home in her horsebox with a NMMM Traffic Official in tow. Luckily for all concerned, the horses always load easily which I am sure helped a great deal in a very stressful time.   The following morning, the first thing to be done was to find the cart and get it home for repair.  With all the staff giving orders about how best to do it, the back end of the cart was rested on the loadbed of the bakkie and the turntable loaded on top of it.  Judging by the reaction of bystanders on our way to the township, we made quite a sight with our new 6 wheel bakkie.  Of course the NMMM Traffic Dept had been informed of what we were doing so we were pretty much left to our own devices! 
At this stage of this final 2009 newsletter, I have to say that the bakkie, a Mitsubishi Colt, is a great vehicle!  In the township on very bad roads in 2nd gear she just tootles along.  In pulling the loaded horsebox she never has a problem and on the open roads to out of town clinics, I battle to keep her below the speed limit.  Really true to her name "Colt".
Stanley has come on in leaps and bounds and is doing a super job with making harnessing, and our first job next year will be to make a horse harness for a township resident.  Our donkey harness is able to fit his mule but does not stretch to a horse - roll on January!  Stanley has also shown that he is able to translate to those who do not speak either English or Afrikaans when needed.  In fact he ended off his year by learning how to get a mare and foal to move on by guiding the foal and having the mare follow.  Yes, Arthur and his mom, Wolsak, are now in the big girls camp!
Moses' Thembi had us on the run for most of the month.  On one occasion some youngsters had corralled the 6 donkeys in the cricket nets at Victoria Park and on another, they were heading for the centre of town down Upper Valley Road!  Stefan then asked, having just come off a three day pony camp, if, as it was hot and we were all very tired from our Grahamstown donkey clinic, he could ride one of the donkeys home to the township.  One thing led to another and soon he was up on Thembi, hi viz jacket on, halter with lead reins on her head as a bitless bridle, riding stick in hand, he led or moved the herd home with me doing traffic control at the roadworks on the corner of 3rd and Union!  Some folk were not sure what their reaction should be, especially when Thembi jumped the ditch!   10 points to Stefan that he stayed on.
In the final (straw) week before Christmas, I threw a frothy having had another owner's donkey hit by a car (damage to donk minimal), and yelled that I was not prepared to do this over Christmas and New Year and I insisted that Thembi and herd come in to the Unit.  It worked!  We all had a relatively quiet time over this period, allowing me to get my entire Database up to date, pictures and all, and as at 31st December, I am right up to date, ready for the 2010 onslaught.  Thank you, Moses!  The one huge problem was that in the wrangling of the donkeys into the horsebox, the work cellphone was lost.  I was only able to get a new phone on Boxing Day but having informed the NMMM Cowboys, AWS and SAPS, I could rest easy knowing that they knew how to find me if required.
Young Frederick and his mum, now named Jenny, and Aunty have been adopted out to a family sheep farm and although it always hurts to see them go, I can sleep better knowing that they are cared for and are doing a useful job without a plastic bag in sight.
It is not often that my plans for the day happen as intended, but on the Tuesday before Christmas, I took all the staff to the Kragga Kamma Game Park for a Christmas 'do'.  We spent a wonderful 2 hours driving around, the staff on the back of the bakkie behaving like regular 'kydaars' until we came around a corner and found ourselves confronted by the entire herd of buffalo right next to the road - what a special sighting.  The staff was treated to a sit down lunch, my treat,  to thank them for their hard work over the last 12 months, in particular, December.   Thank you to Michael and Garnet Cantor for this special afternoon.
On Christmas Day, I was treated to Sally who volunteered to come and assist with the feed up in the morning and again in the afternoon - Thank you, Sally, much appreciated!
When I look back at 2009, I see that visits by the Unit amount to 326 and that during these visits 632 horses, 7 mules and 1298 donkeys have been inspected and/or injected or brought in for veterinary treatment.  My Phone number list has expanded to over 1500, the database of owners has risen to 315 (some with 1 and some with more than 20 equines).
Roll on 2010.
Mama Donkie


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