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November '09

Well, I don’t know about anybody else, but the Unit is having Christmas early this year!! Donations of feed and extra hands are coming in thick and fast, so fast that it is difficult to keep up – a veritable hive of industry!

And so this November newsletter is late….. again! My apologies.

It has been a month of ‘catch up’ all the way, starting with the previous newsletter that went out only 7 days late! All because the computer and email machine decided to have a hissy fit! But thanks to a very kind Master Multitasker, JP, they were given a new lease on life for starters and gradually I am getting to know my new programs.

Then there was the horsebox. It was seriously in need of a bit of work with coast cancer spreading all over. Ocean Legacy Marine, a company with whom the Unit works on other interesting tasks, very kindly took on the job charging only for the purchase of required parts – and the result is a horsebox that hugs the road and certainly makes for safer traveling for donkeys and horses, not to mention the driver.

The Sewing Machine also required a bunch of sorting out, but thanks to Singer Sewing Machines, Dorrie (the sewing machine) is up and running well with Stanley quickly working out the intricacies of the making of harnessing and making his own innovations, sometimes with the assistance of the Carters.

Early in the month the Unit was visited by the Theescombe Pony Club and what a morning it was! 12 Ponyclubbers along with their mums and teachers descended on the donkeys who quickly realized they were in for a treat. Thorough brushings and washings from the pupils and the mums landed up doing the dirty work (as they so often do!) picking up manure, all of which gave Alfred a very bemused look on his face the next morning when he found a lot of bags waiting for him to move to the collection point.

The Unit Stables had some uninvited visitors too! Who knows what they were thinking or wanting, but they managed to break three windows in the office but were unable to complete their entrance – although I did get a bit of a start when I opened up in the morning. But again, we have a good friend in Treloar who rallied to assist us by welding extra bars on our burglar bars to make the spaces smaller at no cost to us other than the purchase of flatbar material. Treloar has also firmly affixed two metal plaques inside the stables that have been waiting for over a year to be put up. (They were brought in from outside due to copper and metal theft at the AWS premises.)

One morning I received two irate phonecalls telling me that there were two donkeys roaming around Sherwood. We were already en route to thedonkeys when calls were received about two horses roaming around on Welcome Avenue – all very strange. All this was most unusual but off we set to go and try and find the donkeys and bring them in – this is the last place one would expect to find two donkeys although the grass was lovely where we finally found them. They were tired having travelled quite a distance and they were lost so were caught quite easily.

Loading, however, was a different story! Once loaded, we brought them back to the stables only to have the owner phone to claim them. The horses by this time had been ‘found’ and returned to their camp by their owner but they were missing their donkeys – calling for them and not getting a reply. In the end event, it transpired that there had been a possible stock theft attempt which enabled the horses to also get out. Needless to say, the owner was very happy to get the horses and donkeys back safe and sound, the horses were delighted to see their friends again, and new chains and locks have been added to the gates!

Our Friend, Sharon Barclay who took so much of her time to tend to the Mud Fever Pony, has now had her own foal – and what a beauty it is too! In addition, we welcomed Frederick (aka Freddie) during the month. Freddie is the colt that a stray donkey has been carrying for a while, and she popped him out and gave everyone a lovely surprise. So Arthur and Freddie are being kept separately with their mummies while we wait for Daisy to produce her foal. Our visit to Grahamstown after the Festival has meant that a whole bunch, er.. herd of donkeys, have had their first deworming for quite some time, and our visit to Humansdorp, where I was assisted by Joanne from Valley Stables, meant that a horse owner who did not have all the ‘right stuff’ was sorted with tack – and he was delighted as were the horses with their new kinder bits (and pieces) in place!

Two township horses have also had us running this month, one with a badly injured shoulder that, once healed, promptly went down with a cold, and his mate then pulled up lame as well – but that was just a nail pinch in the shoe. As their owner knows that it is best not to wait too long before calling for help, we were able to, with good veterinary advice and early in the day, solve the problems as they arose and before they got much worse.

A phonecall was received about an abused donkey in Walmer suburb but on finding the animal, it was clearly seen that the abuse had been inflicted by another donkey, probably a stallion as everyone is fighting for the attention of the mares. But then the owner of Boesman phoned to say that their donkey had a bad wound and on visiting we found that he had had a chunk of skin removed from his butt by another stallion. He too is recuperating well … and Treloar sorted out his front hooves in between doing the burglar bars too!

And then another sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous, stepped forward into the fray: On finding me carrying buckets of water late one evening, she quickly got a staff member to come in and give the Unit a water point at the Stables. And when I asked if she had a wirepuller, she organized a proper fencer to come in and pull the fences tight (donkey stallions are notoriously determined to gain access to mares!) and then arranged the erection of a brand new fence for the girls camp. Along with a kind donation of a farm gate from yet another Friend, Marion, the girls camp is looking great!

The question is: How does one say Thank You for such generosity and caring? Thank you so much, B, for your thoughtfulness.

And then came Stephan who volunteered to spend his school holidays ‘doin’ stuff’. Well, he has become a valuable guy to have around – neatening up fences, assisting in the collection of donated feed and goods, sorting out donated shelving for the store room, and generally being a very useful extra pair of extra hands. Talking of feed, we need to thank all the people who have donated Lucerne and oathay the last few weeks: To Equifeeds, Gary, Jacques, Jan, Ann, Tracey, Christine - our heartfelt thanks for your donations that all lands up in the right place.

And then we need to thank the caring people who phoned to tell us about donkeys in Walmer, all in the wrong places like 3rd Avenue at the airport and South End at the ‘wrong’ times. You see, there is very little grazing in the townships in this time of drought and my friend, Thembi, is just trying to feed her family like so many others at the moment. It goes without saying that all the roadworks taking place for the Soccer World Cup, is not helping at all, with holes and new rerouts causing havoc for donkeys and motorists alike. This has resulted in her foraging further and further afield with aunties and foals dutifully following as far as South End where on one occasion we, the owner Moses, his helpers and I found them lying on the grass sunning themselves and having forty-winks. I think the nice thing is that the people who phone in are not yelling, merely showing concern that the donkeys might be hurt and just want them moved to safety. So thank you to Maureen, Harry, Ernie and Sally for telling us where they are at that precise moment and even offering to assist with getting them back home.

Towards the end of November, Glen undertook a dog cage sit-in to raise funds in aide of the Animal Welfare Society who are being inundated with ‘donated’ animals. He is having so much fun with his new four legged friends that he has decided to stay for a little while longer and would just love it if you popped in and took him for a walk on his leash so that he can stretch his legs! At this stage in time, he now realizes just what it means to be a dog that is no longer wanted and is donated to AWS.

Well, this is the last newsletter you will get this year, although I will be sending out Friend Application Forms for those that wish to become Friends sometime during December.


On behalf of the ECHCU I wish you a very Happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year.