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October '07

Dear Friends,
Well, now that I have got my Income Tax Return sorted and off my mind and desk, I can tell you about the past month.

From Dan: I got three Donkeys from you in beginning July of this year. You wont believe how well the donkeys have adapted, and have bonded well with the sheep and lambs. I can say with a certainty that they are doing the work I got them for.

From Lauren and Carolyn on Gabriel: So he has been with me . . . . . . . four (4) weeks on the 6th. It seems so much longer, like he has always been there. At the moment, he is totally besotted with his food and he thinks that he owns the field and the gate that leads to the stables, needless to say he was put in his place very quickly by my daughter's SPCA lady,

Legacie, who runs the herd with a tight hoof. He has a few nicks and scratches and he was looking a bit sorry for himself last week, but he is learning very quickly who the boss is, and is pushing his luck less and less every day (It's a boy thing you see). He has no space sense, and he keeps pushing himself into other horses space and getting himself into trouble, but he will learn. His real boss (me) will only start to work with him once his weight is where it should be and that will probably start in the middle of November, if he continues to improve at the rate that he is. I have chatted to my Farrier and we have decided that we are going to put some lightweight shoes on him, to help him cope with his bad feet, at the end of this month, before I start working with him. I am hoping that at the end of the day, in a year or so, that he will be able to go without shoes, but we need to improve his hooves first and them make a decision once his feet have improved. I never realised just how bad his feet really are, but good food, supplement and time . . . . . . . well chat again in 6 months.

So, not much else to report except that he has settled into his new home with no problems at all. I was expecting a "Cyclone" to enter my farm and instead I received a mini Tornado. No damage done, just a few noses out of place.

Nothing that the horses can't adapt to.

New Donkey Dad
On Saturday 27th, in an absolute howling gale, I collected a mommy and baby from their owner in the township to take to their new home. With stock theft a problem in the area, the owner was distraught to lose his animals but wanted what was best for them. I eventually got to the farm and once the gates were shut, opened up the horsebox and led mommy out. Schoolgirl did not take more than 5 paces before her head went down and she started grazing. The yearling came out quietly and once told what to do, Tony began grooming Fudge with a brush who did not move a muscle and enjoyed every minute of it. They will have plenty of space to roam, grass to eat, shelter from the sun and rain and an owner who is entranced with them, although he was concerned about his dogs. I was too until he told me that the one boxer and Schoolgirl have 'fallen in love' - they spend hours nose to nose just staring at each other and follow each other around. Tony and his family had a braai on Sunday and Schoolgirl used this opportunity to come and lie down nearby and just watch the proceedings and introduce herself a little more.

Parrot Mouth
Then there was the female donkey who had a parrot mouth and according to the Veterinarian during a colic episode, this would be an ongoing problem as she would always find it difficult to break the plastic bags with her misshapen mouth. I had discussed it with the township owner and he decided that he could not deal with the stress of ongoing colics. He told me to take her away, so I did, and now Ntombi is living with Smudgie and they make a beautiful 'matched pair' and are great friends.

You will remember in August, I wrote about the statue to Animals in War in Park Lane, London.

Well, I got a breathless phonecall from Smudgie's mama, Rina, who had just returned from a visit to London and while travelling in the taxi down, yes you guessed it, Park Lane, she saw the statues. She tells me that she wanted to stop and give the donk a hug! She bought me a small gift from France - two bars of soap made from ASSES MILK. It smells gorgeous and I shall make sure to behave like Cleopatra. Definitely an employment possibility for someone although I am waiting for my translation of the brochure from the French. Rina also tells me that during their perambulations in France, they came across a Village Fair and on stopping were amazed to see donkeys being shown by their owners!
Di has just returned from a holiday in Mauritius and tells me that unfortunately for me, there are apparently no donkeys to be seen in Mauritius. Aw shucks!

I was asked by a township owner about gelding his one horse (we have already gelded the other one, who just happens to be his father / brother!). In due course, I went to collect Petaal, whose name changes to Sataan from time to time because he is so naughty. Within five minutes of trying to return home, the horse had turned himself around in the box to face backwards - and there was no way I was going to attempt to turn him around again in the middle of Kwazakhele!

To add to the excitement, I had been told that he had two for removal but found on arrival of the Vet, that only one was descended and so we landed up doing an unexpected Cryptorchidectomy to boot! We definitely cannot have a rig running around the township!

I remember a few years ago reading a USA magazine, EQUUS, where it says that some horses get very frightened facing frontwards because the scenery 'rushes' at them, and so they recommended travelling backwards, where the scenery unfolds gently before their eyes.

However, our horseboxes are not made to carry like this but I took a chance.

When it came to going home, I cajoled Wendy at Animal Welfare to assist me with the loading and turning before we even left the stable yard! All went according to plan, and with the horse safely loaded the wrong way around, he returned home. Certainly, a lot of cars on the highway slowed down and had a real good look as did Petaal look at them! I am quite sure that as they went whizzing past he was putting his tongue out at them! (Picture available on request!)

Thank you Wendy for assisting with walking post op and loading him back into the box in his preferred manner!

I have been swamped by a veritable tsunami of lucerne, oathay, teff, grass, and hard feed from a number of sources. A very sincere Thank You to Nicky Bartlett, Tara Garrett, Clair Petrie, Equifeeds, Berman Hire and Helen Green.

Alfred, who had started chaffing the oathay with a pair of scissors was delighted when the boss allowed me to buy a shredding machine. Now he just puts it all together, it comes out in short stalks and ready mixed, he bags it and it is ready for delivery to where it is needed most.

Other donations have been received from Sandy Glover (tack), Val at The Riding Shop (grooming brushes and a longe rein), Ian and Nina Robertson (files and empty sacks), Rob Miller and Rob Kay (welfare rates for footwork). Thank you for your continual support.

Due to the fact that the offices of AWS were paid a number of unexpected, unwanted late night visits during the month, has led to the stable complex being allowed a watchdog every night.

So, every afternoon I toddle across and fetch a dog and get dragged back to the stables and reverse the procedure in the morning. There is water and space and shelter and there used to be a pet bed, now in shreds from one bored customer. Alfred and I always wonder when we come to work what has transpired in our absence but it is nice to know that an early warning system is in place!

Temporary visitors at the moment are two donkeys that were used in a robbery on the northern side of town. They both have stories of their own that I know, but they are delighted at being treated to a steady meal and space to be and of course, that regular grooming they get in the morning.

Alfred and others often look at me strangely when I talk to the animals like humans. So it came as a bit of a giggle at morning feed time to hear Alfred doing exactly the same. I believe that talking to the animals is the only time I get a sensible response, you see, and if I can get the donkey owners to do the same, I will believe I am winning, all the way.

I attended the AWS Animal Sunday Blessing Service (it's nice to know that you are being prayed for) and this led to an invitation to talk to a Rotary group - anything to dispel misconceptions and put another viewpoint across!

In order to get Refits done quicker (it is so exciting!), Di and I have taken to doing ambushes at Transfer Sites - much to the surprise of the Carters!

On my way to welcome the SA Rugby Team (We are the champions!!) at PE Airport, I came across a goat that had been hit by a car. One of my Carters came to my assistance with translation (and protection) to the unhappy driver which led to the animal being taken to AWS for a decision to be made on its future. Seeing horses that were in a 'bad place', thriving in their new homes.

The unusual black Sunbird that comes to visit the Keurboom near the stables and the geese who bathe in rainwater in the gutters in the township after a downpour.

The Carter that was seen by a passing motorist, furiously busy brushing down his donkey on 10th Avenue, Walmer.

The Grysbok baby whose mom is MIA and that I have been assisting with regard to feeding and habits and who is doing just fine with his adoptive mama.

The public's response to the Ban Fireworks meetings we have been having this month.

Yours very sincerely
Jenny (my new name by some Scottish friends who got tired of calling me the Donkey Lady!)