Apollo and Cocoa
Donny and Nugget
(the lighting was really bad, it was so overcast)
We stocked up the boutique, but it actually still looked very empty, these Winter Open Days have been really successful in every way, and particularly in the boutique. I had one of the new volunteers working with me in the boutique as she was in charge of the hot chocolate and keeping the fire burning that was going just by the welcome centre to warm on at. What was different today compared to the last two Open Days, was that today there were about 75% of people here, who have been out to the DSC on a regular bases and it was so nice to see them again and chit chat about the new things that were happening at the DSC. And it kept the "safety talk" to only a few during my shift. There was my little man Mason, he is about three years old and he must have been out with his dad at least once every month during the Open Season, then there was the hairy guy that was groomed by Eeyore at the fence in the summer, the older British lady who just is in love with Summer, the young girl (12) that gave her own pocket money at one of her visits as a donation and who wanted nothing more for Christmas other than an Electric toothbrush and a sponsorship, mom let me in on the secret and told me that they had sponsored her daughters favourite donkey Chiclet for her for Christmas. Oh how happy she will be.
At one of my peeks out the boutique door I spotted Cate at the fence, I had no idea that she was going to be there too, so that was nice, nicer than that was even that we then had lunch together, lunch in the Pady Farmhouse, lunch prepared by the Founder of the Sanctuary, and hmmm nothing was more fitting and yummier than a warm bowl of soup and bread on this cold winter day.
By midday the sun had finally made an appearance and it was just beautiful to stand out in hit. Unfortunately it didn't last too long and soon there was a blistering freezing cold wind and big clouds in the sky. After lunch, I put another layer of clothes on, switched my boots around and went down to the barn. Cate and I mucked out the Eastside of the barn and had lots of interesting conversations about pretty much everything under the sun, we joked around and just ever so often just stood there and watched the donkeys. Uma was giving us a little bit of a hard time as she was in a cranky mood and kind of aggressive. After that chore was done it was time to mingle with some more people. I met a nice young man, who came from a place four hours away, just because he always wanted to come out and getting his mom a gift from the boutique was just the perfect excuse to make the trip down. We were talking about the donkeys and he told me that they have three donkeys, well I kind of knew that lol, and Summer recognizes a donkey lover at any time, so she snug up on the young man and he just had the magic touch, he just knew the right spots to scratch and pet and Summer was in heaven, so much so that the young man stood right behind Summer scratching her but and she was soaking it up, Chantal came with Summers dinner, and Summer had no interest in it...the choice...food, which usually Summer goes nuts over...or having a nice man scratch your behind....tough choice, but Summer picked the young guy and Chantal had to wait a few minutes until he left and Summer was ready to eat. Very funny, especially when you know that Summer usually goes over bodies to get to her food.
The end of the day was packed with one more huge chore, omg, it was fun and unnerving and definitely something new, and well a good way to face your fears as it was me against the big rowdy geldings. The Chore: Feeding the rowdy boys a round bail of hay, my part in it....opening each and every gate for Cate to navigate the tractor with the bail of hay to the designated spot, while keeping donkeys out and in and then out of the way. The first few gates wasn't too hard still a little bit unnerving as everybody always wants to check out what you are doing, and it's kind of hard to keep donkeys out and away when you hang on to two gate openings. The worst was the gate from the parking lot into the gelding pasture, because as soon as they know hay is coming of course they just gravitate towards you. The gate is right by the parking lot, opens inward, so I had to wait for Cate to be all the way through, while being on the other side, while donkeys stare at an wide open gate. But we managed quite nicely. Then I had to keep eight big boys out of Cate's way so she could position the tractor the right way and back up enough again to drop in the bail, it was a little bit intimidating trying to direct the big boys away from the food, after all that's what they live for, almost all were very cooperative, but then there was Apollo staring me down, and all I could remember however you gonna move him, whatever you do, do not flare your arms in any way, so I kind of stood beside him and leaned heavily into his shoulder and he finally moved out of the way. So Cate was perfectly positioned to drop the bail, but I had to cut the netting around it first, of course the donkeys by then are all at the feeder anticipating the drop of the hay. It was so hard to get the netting off, my fingers were frozen, the netting was frozen to the bottom of the hay bail and it took a few minutes in the midst of very inpatient donkeys to get it loose and off. Talk about not being able to think about your fear for a second but just getting it done. So it went well and getting out of it and back to the barnyard was easy. I can not even imagine having to do that job all by yourself once in a while, but it happens.
The end of the day was nearing and it was time to say good-bye, I had a few moments with Orly, Hershey and Chaplin and of course Cate and the girls in the office. And everybody came to the same conclusion...that those three Open Days were a huge success, with lots of donations at the gates, lots of sales in the boutique and lots of sponsorships of donkeys. I am sure we will do it again next year....because really, and a lot of people said it, what could be nicer than being in the present of these warm fuzzy loving and lovable animals, that played such a big part in the Christmas Story. It definitely was a worthy experience and in the true spirit of Christmas...love...peace....joy!