a BIG step

Here at the DSC, for the past twenty years we have coped with less than ideal housing conditions for the donkeys.  Our 19th Century barn is charming from the outside, an artifact from another era but  inside, it is dark, poorly ventilated and the foundation leaks whenever there is a storm.  Additionally, its size and layout have always  prevented us from separating the donkeys into smaller groups in order to cope with differing dietary needs.  Finally, this past winter conditions deteriorated to the point where the health of the donkeys was being  impacted negatively.  Hoof ailments started to appear at an alarming rate and too many animals were gaining too much weight.

As a result the DSC Board decided in April that improvements to housing facilities could be postponed no longer and that construction should be carried out before the next winter season.   Eight weeks later  under the guidance of  Kim Hayes, our Operations Manager, the construction process for a new Donkey House is well underway.  Kim’s thorough competence and extensive equine experience are  exactly what is needed for this major project.  Matters of drainage, materials,  location and, of course, cost are all factors in every decision to be made.  Added to those are considerations regarding the movement of the animals in every season, management of manure, protection from wind, rain and snow…….the list is very long and myriad unforeseen circumstances must be anticipated.

The DSC’s Donkey House and Drainage Project   will cost $175,000.  For us, this is a very great deal of money, one that we hope to realize through donor contributions,  appeals to corporations and applications to granting foundations.  Of course in an ideal world, we would have raised these funds before the start of the project.  But that was not to be since the needs of the animals deserved precedence.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of  the  new Donkey House.  On the one hand, we are looking forward very much to this new facility for the donkeys; on the other hand, this major fundraising is a great challenge.  Advice and suggestions re funding sources would be most welcome.

Sandra Pady, Executive Director


Autumn News from the Donkey Sanctuary

We were  pleased to read Autumn News from the Donkey Sanctuary, a poem by Ken Babstock , in his new collection, Methodist Hatchet, published by House of Anansi Press.  This work conveys so eloquently  what we are all about here at the DSC and, with pleasure, we share it with you.

Autumn News from the Donkey Sanctuary

Cargo has let down

her hair a little and stopped pushing

Pliny the Elder on


the volunteer labour.

During summer it was all Pliny the Elder,

Pliny the Elder, Pliny


the – she’d cease only

for Scotch thistle, stale Cheerios, or to reflect

flitty cabbage moths


back at themselves

from the wet river-stone of her good eye.  Odin,

as you already know,


was birthed under

the yew tree back in May, and has made

friends with a crow


who perches between

his trumpet-lily ears like bad language he’s not

meant to hear.  His mother


Anu, the jennet with

soft hooves from Killaloe, is healthy and never

far from Loki or Odin.


The perimieter fence,

the ID chips like cysts with a function slipped

under the skin, the trompe


l’oeil  plough and furrowed

field, the UNHCR feed bag and restricted visiting

hours.  These things done


for stateless donkeys,

mules and hinnies – done in love, in lieu of claims

to purpose or rights –


are done with your

generous help.  In your names.  Enjoy the photo.

Have a safe winter


outside the enclosure.




For fifteen consecutive years I coordinated Donkey Day and so it is from that experience that I can say, “This year’s event was the very best celebration of the animals and their world.”

The donkeys were the stars, of course.  There is nothing so pleasing as the sight of a child, whose jaw is dropped in awe, staring into a donkey’s big brown eyes.  The intensity of them both, human and equine, is palpable for an instant.  Each is really looking, absorbing, and in the moment.

Ruth Gillespie, the Donkey Day Coordinator this year, worked steadily for the past twelve months and she put together an outstanding, well-organized event  that ran more smoothly than ever before.  Thanks to you, Ruth, our special day was so much more so.

Two days have passed since our Donkey Day 2011 and  as we work around the Farm, tying up the various loose ends left by such a whirlwind event – attended by 2000 people –  I think we have every reason to be proud. When individuals  like our wonderful volunteers and dedicated staff share a passion, great things are  the result. 

 We want everyone to care like we do about the other creatures with whom we share this earth.   To paraphrase Margaret Mead, who said a small group of people couldn’t change the world?  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Sandra Pady, Executive Director

Donkey Day Week – Always filled with the unexpected

We have a saying around here, “Never a dull moment at the DSC!” and Donkey Day week is always especially full of surprises.

Last night we had an extra-ordinarily powerful storm that raged for 2 hours.  Ongoing lightning provided quite a show and the wind – and hale- blasted around the farm.  The gate to the barnyard blew open some time in the night and so several donkeys enjoyed a walkabout.  Whenever this happens, they go around the house, into the parking lot and then over to a garden bed, where they stand and wait. We think they like it here.

On top of that, a 60′ beech tree was completely uprooted and, miraculously, fell over on the lawn at the back of the house.  5 of us worked for 4 hours to remove it, and we were able to do so thanks to our Bobcat AND a mighty chainsaw that had been donated after an appeal on our website wish list.  We have the most helpful, thoughtful contributors.

It’s only Wednesday but things are accelerating for Donkey Day once again.  It will be our 18th.  The tent is up, the rental tables and chairs have arrived and we are scurrying around checking things off the lists.  Ruth Gillespie, the DD Coordinator is doing a bang up job and she has assembled quite a roster of events and entertainment.  So, we do hope that you will join us.  The donkeys are looking their summer best and of course they will be the stars.  See you then, we hope:  Sunday, June 12th, 11am-4pm.

Sandra Pady, Executive Director


Chaplin, one of our spotted Standard donkeys, is just brimming with personality…….and good luck. 

While she was grooming Chaplain one afternoon last week  Ruth, a DSC volunteer,  noticed as unusual looking lesion on the donkey’s neck.  It was located on the side of the muscular crest that runs along the top. On closer examination the affected area  turned out to be a perfect round opening: something had entered one side of the crest  and exited cleanly on the other.  Much conversation ensued among staff and volunteers about the nature of the wound and finally it was decided that a shot bullet had been the cause of the injury. 

To say the least, everyone was  stunned by this conclusion. Chaplin has always roamed  in our fields with his donkey companions at all times of night and day  in what we considered to be a safe, well-fenced environment.  However could this have  happened?

After our veterinarian confirmed the conclusion we called the police to report the incident.  The Constable who was sent to the Farm as a result observed that, depending upon the size of the firearm, an unimpeded  bullet can travel up to 3 miles in a straight line. ( In spite of that the person who shoots the bullet is responsible always for where it hits.)  We could only surmise  that this injuty was  the result of a stray shot.

Chaplin is a most fortunate equine.  The injury would have been severe had the bullet entered his body even half an inch lower than it did.  Needless to say, we  are all  very relieved  that no harm was done to this unsuspecting creature.    At the same time, the incident is a shocking reminder that an accident which might change the course of one’s life is never far away.

Sandra Pady, Executive Director