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April 2008

Things were so silly during March that I even forgot to pay my accounts until the 4th April!  And now it is the 2nd of May, and you are only getting this now!  Sorry!

Alfred is off for two days having worked right through last weekend and those holidays, and so I gave him 'off' and worked in his stead these holidays.  I managed to do a lot of admin work after stables, that is, until I got the phonecall.  My donkey is dead, please come.
Poor old Kaptein, David loved him.  He had dropped dead like a stone.  David himself has only got one and a half legs but he refused to leave his donkey lying in the street, and so with the help of township bystanders, lifted the dead donk onto his own cart and brought him home, much like a funeral bier.  I got there quite quickly to find the entire family in an uproar, and David in floods of tears, and got all choked up myself.  David tries to scrape a living together by collecting garden refuse with his cart and it is also his mode of transport, being disabled. Kaptein was very important to him.
Dr Mari was at the office and we both had a good look around and found that very little appeared 'wrong', so I can report to David that it looks like the heart was the problem.  There is only so much you can deduce from a dead carcass.  I then took the body to the Kragga Kamma Game Park for disposal.  You see, I believe in the Cycle of Life, and that no animal should die in vain and that the carcass should be used where possible to feed wildlife carnivores and continue the Cycle.

I spent time at the Highveld Horse Care Unit in Gauteng the last few days in May on a study trip.  I work under their principles and although I work the same way and think that my 'problems' are big, theirs are even bigger as they have a much higher population of equines in their townships.  I was introduced to a donkey who had been severely beaten - so badly, that he could not see.   But he accepted the hand feeding, being guided into a safe grassed area every day, and plenty of carrots from anyone of the staff who happened to be passing.  The owner has been incarcerated and I hope, like the rest of the staff, that he will stay there for some considerable time.
Abandoned/stray horses in the more affluent areas, a pony attacked by a pitbull, horses surrendered to the Unit so that they can hopefully find a good adoptive home for them - all part and parcel of what the Horse Care Units do.

Within hours of returning from Johannesburg, a very concerned Soweto on Sea owner phoned to say his donkey was sick with plastic - Help!   When I arrived with the horsebox, he sheepishly (donkishly?) presented to me a rather large dropping, of which 90% was plastic bag.  He apologised profusely for getting me there on a so-called unnecessary call, but as the mare was standing with ears at half mast and not like her friends eating on the soccer field, I decided to bring her in anyway.  I certainly didn't want to have to do this all on the following day, a public holiday.   A swing past the Clinic got Mommy drenched and injected and then onto a separate camp where any other 'donations' can be checked.  It looks like I will be able to return her sooner rather than later.  
I am just very glad that he called me early when he first found the donkey definitely out of sorts and well before the donkey mare got a whole lot worse which makes it very difficult for a Vet and I to work with.

I mentioned about a stock and cart theft some two months ago.  Moses' Thembi was one of the stolen donkeys and he asked if she could stay until she had had her baby to which I agreed.   Well Thembi grew and grew until she was as wide as she was long (well, that's what it looked like!). Moses was just as confused as I was when he came to see her.  Always very pushy with the food thing, poking her nose into the feed trough and saying 'Come on, where is it? Put it here!'
She finally gave birth on Saturday 26th morning sometime, and I received a flurry of excited smsses and phone calls from Sharon and Kerry AWS, to tell me what had happened.  So it was lovely to come home and find that all was well with the little one who leads Thembi a merry dance.  She is such a good mother and is very protective and 'worried' when it takes off at a gallop round the camp, pigrooting and bucking all the way!  Just one of the things that make my job worthwhile! Now I just have to think of a good, positive name!

On the 8th, my phone went berzerk with calls and smsses from what seemed like the whole country, about two donkeys 'going down to the harbour/outside South End Fire Station/at the robots/on the Highway!!'.  I started to think that perhaps I had slipped a cog and it was still April Fools Day.  With some fantastic assistance from 4 SAPS vans and 6 NMMM Traffic vehicles, we managed to corral the mommy and baby that were determinedly heading to all points North, halter them and get them off the road and tied to a tree on the verge with Alfred, while I raced back to fetch the horsebox to take them home and into a safe place.   Unfortunately, like all animals, they are unable to speak so the next job will be to try and find the owner.    What they were doing there, we will never know, but hopefully soon they will be reunited.   See attached picture of Alfred hoofing it back down the highway with ma and foal with so many official vehicles protecting him - I think he was very disconcerted at all the men in blue 'guarding' him with blue lights flashing!
It took a few days before the foal suddenly sloughed a whole lot of hair and skin off its hind hip with what looked like either it had been struck by a car, or perhaps it fell on the tar and gave itself a humungous bruise.  Thankfully all is repaired but not before mommy got entangled in an exposed root in the ground and managed to 'pull a muscle'! Mommy and Foal all better.

When Alfred and I arrive in a township, it is a bit like a travelling circus with children gathering around along with adults asking the donkey owner 'is everything OK?'.  Then of course there is Alfred who has taken to standing on the back of the bakkie to facilitate feed deliveries, armed with his Midas bib and the riding stick/crop with which to chase a cow that has wandered onto the road - although we do goats, pigs, geese as well!   So there is generally lots of stick waving, and we have become part of the township traffic travelling at 40/50 kph with cars making space for us to get to where we need to be.  People gather from all over to find out what the problem is and, should I have the horsebox attached, many willing hands dive in to assist with loading and picking up the ramp.  Lots of high fives later, we are back on the road again.

Then there were the people who were 'given' two rescue horses to rehome.  Again, the thin horses were let loose in a large camp with no halters and the new owners told to 'feed them up'.   Things had got so badly out of control that they were unable to catch them, the horses by now being totally overfed and dominant.   In conjunction with the owner, we sorted out the feeding schedule, separated the pair, introduced the more sensible of the horses to one other standing on the farm, haltered them both including a catch rope on each.
So, everytime I pass the farm I check and see what is happening, and it makes me really feel good to see the 4 horses (they have been joined by a 4th horse), grazing together in a camp as a herd as it should be, not being separated by fences as they were - indeed, a very pleasing sight and very satisfied owners (but there again, they were good to work with in the first place).

In order to give you the opportunity, I will be emailing to you under separate email,  a Friends Of the Horse Application Form should you wish to join.  This will bring my records properly up to date!
In addition, anyone who has donated money to the ECHCU is entitled to a Tax Certificate for Income Tax purposes (yes, you can take it off tax!).   Please drop me an email and I will return a Tax Refund Receipt for you to claim.   It pays to be a member!

Warm Fuzzy
. Finding a Carter, having done his morning muck out of his donkey kraal, hosing his donkeys with a hose to cool them down on a very hot day in Uitenhage.
. The many township Owners who have widened their gates to make it easier for me to get into their properties to deliver feed.
. Being able to walk into township spaza shops to buy Epson Salts for hoof poulticing by a donkey owner.
. The delight of an Owner on finding his donkey in our custody, two years after it was stolen from him....
Cold Prickly
. ...and having to go to the Police Station to sort out a Statement to reclaim the donkey!  Luckly he had a photograph of the donkey and the original receipt from when he purchased it in 2003!
. Way too many horses dying of African Horse Sickness in townships and urban areas.
. All the tears that have been shed this past month over our dead donkeys and horses.
. The plethora of public holidays!


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