Saturday, December 12, 2009
A day in Heaven on Earth
At minus 10 degree Celsius I was on the road again early this morning to my second training session at the Donkey Farm, today was all about hands on, and I was so looking forward to it. The drive up there on the back country roads was beautiful, the sun was just barely above the horizon and the air was definitely crisp and chilly. Once I hit St. George, there was actually snow covering the ground and it all looked very wintery and romantic. I arrived at the Donkey Sanctuary about 15 minutes early and spent some time at the fence watching the donkeys eat and mingle. Standing there I could definitely feel the cold air all around me, even though I was bundled up like midwinter, with long johns, thick woolly socks, hats and mittens and many layers of clothes under my old winter coat. It was great to see that everybody was back from last weekend and was really eager to get started. Rule # 1 is, before you get to do the fun stuff with the donkeys you have to do a barn yard chore, which can be anything from cleaning the water troves to cleaning out the barn to cleaning out the individual stalls. Two new volunteer were paired up with an experience volunteer to show them the ropes. My volunteer was Carrie and I was paired up with a young girl ( well below 30 lol) named Rebecca. First we were shown were to sign in and what papers to fill out before we leave. Then the chores were handed out. ..our job was to clean out one stall completely to the bare concrete floor, remove all the bedding and then set the stall back up again. So we shoveled, wheeled and dumped, cleaned,brushed and scrubbed out the stall. It was really hard work and it took the three of us about an hour to clean and set it up again. After that we carried some straw bundles to the other side of the barnyard for the new arrival that still is quarantined at the Halfway Haven stall. Then it was time to carry buckets of water, and I am talking buckets of water to fill up the different troves, we had to do it by bucket, because there were problems with the pipes and the plumber was called to fix them, so we had to get water from a different source. You sure didn't feel cold after all this physical work. Throughout all the work, the donkeys were just freely roaming around and checking out all the action with all the newbies. It was hilarious, which brings us to rule # 2, whenever a donkey is near stop what you are doing and love them, which really isn't very hard to do. After all the chores were complete we assembled in the barn yard and got the donkey talk, mainly how to approach them, what to watch out for as far as body language and the heads up on some donkeys and a sheep....Of course on top of the list of donkeys to watch out for was my beloved Hershey. Hershey has definitely personality and he is the way he is because of this previous owners, and he is a handful, very rambunctious and unpredictable. The second donkey we were "warned" about was Solo. Solo is actually a very nice donkey but he has his issues like most of them do, he usually only fixates himself on one person and keeps others away by kicking. The only one really getting close to him is Donkeyboy himself, Kyle. And then there is Nello, a sheep that was brought there as a little lamb, and has evolved into this big huge sheep with an attitude, well ever since he got his horns. So these are the main animals to be leary around, most other ones are save to be around. So we set out to find our first donkey to groom which was harder than it looked...first victim was Earl Grey....well maybe not...lol....that little donkey, wasn't moving for anybody, or anything, he was very stubborn for various reasons as we were going to find out later. So we gave up and directed out attention to Chicklet, the only donkey without long ears. We were shown the different brushes, how and what they were used for and what to look out for, while giving the donkey a once over. Chicklet was very cooperative and good, then it was Summers turn, she is an older donkey and loves attention so she was quite cooperative too. Then we went back to Earl Grey, well sort of.... he was finally moving, put the harness on him and tied him to the fence to groom, well donkeys of the same kind can sometimes look so much alike, well actually it is very hard to tell like coloured donkeys apart from each other. So as we were grooming Earl Grey and were checking out his underbelly, it came to Carrie all of a sudden that this wasn't Earl Grey as a matter of fact it wasn't even a boy. No wonder the poor little thing wasn't moving and listening to the name Earl Grey, but Carrie had no clue who she was and we got a good chuckle out of that. Later we found out that it was Dolly and Dolly is very attached to another Donkey and that was another reason she wasn't too eager to move, she didn't want to leave her friend behind. So finally Dolly cooperated and got groomed and cleaned, but she was happy to be joining her friend again at the hay.
After 3 1/2 hrs in the fresh air and in the present of amazing animals I was getting ready to leave. As I am driving along I couldn't help to notice the fresh country air smell all inside Jeep and I was just laughing because all I could think of was the four sweaty soaking wet Zumbachicks smelling up the car, like we did a few months ago after a 3 hrs Zumbathon, was really nothing compared to the smell that lingered in the Jeep all the way home. Awwwwww I love good fresh country air.......