We haven’t had much luck with donkeys this year. After losing Maisie in the horrid weather of last January and Nick driving all the way to Wales to buy the charming Winston and Clementine as company for a pining Rollo, disaster has struck again. Rollo has thrived since his play mates came along, but Winston and more so Clementine have been a worry all year. They have been wonderfully friendly with the guests and let Rollo be king of their kingdom but never looked as strong as they should. Clementine had sun cream applied each day to her eczema ridden nose and all the donkeys were seen by the farrier for their hooves and wormed regularly by Farmer Nick and Gill. Despite this Winston and Clementine shed their coats too late in the season as autumn was setting in and while Winston looked to be gaining in strength Clementine was losing weight. We asked the vet and I asked on facebook for suggestions, thank you to those suggesting sugar beet. We separated Clementine into the adjacent field with her own shelter and high protein food and hay net yet close enough for her to nuzzle with her buddies when she wanted to. The weather turned and Clementine grew weaker, there was nothing obvious but it was clear she wasn’t going to make it through the winter. I fought the vet’s advice to have her put down but eventually agreed it was the fairest thing as she continued to decline.
Fast forward a week and it was going to be another long road trip for Farmer Nick who had spotted Delilah and her foal Pixie for sale up in Wiltshire. Setting off in the dark at 6am and leaving me with the two hours of school run and animal feeding he braved the wet and headed north.
By midday I had heard nothing and was bursting to know if he had bought the donkeys and rang the mobile. All was well, donkey’s on board he was heading home. It was going to be touch and go if he would make it back in daylight with a 50mph max donkey towing speed so I agreed to have everything set up and ready for their return. The children helped me straight after school to move the ponies to a higher field and give our new arrivals the lovely sheltered big field down by the river with the new field shelter that boys built after the storms blew the old one right over last year.
With straw on the floor and hay in their nets we were ready to welcome them in.
After their long journey, Delilah and Pixie were all at sixes and sevens and just wanted to explore their new home with a pond for water, plenty of foliage to hide in and the deer and goats for neighbours but there was no stopping the children trying to fuss over them. Jed and Clio decided to climb the tree in their paddock to gain a view of where they were heading whilst Guy followed them with handfuls of straw to attract their attention, all to no avail.
Later we returned with apples in a last attempt to coax them inside. After a good explore they were happy to oblige led by Delilah while Pixie was intrigued by my camera flash in the fading light. I think they are going to be perfect Christmas Donkeys sitting in their manger.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.
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