The DSC – One Person’s Imagining

Recently, the DSC was the subject of various comments on .  The conversation was among those who had visited and those who would like to visit the Sanctuary Farm.  Many had never heard of our work and they were intrigued.  We enjoyed especially  the comment below:

Without clicking the link, I envision a donkey, in the dead of night, pounding on the door with it’s hoof, out of breath. Whistles sound up the street, and beating footsteps approach out of the foggy night. The door opens, the donkey collapsing inside, into the arms of an old man in a black robe, and the donkey brays out, “I claim sanctuary,” before passing out.

Outside, the glue factory goons curse, but know they must honor the age-old treaty and cannot violate the sanctuary.”

Sandra Pady, Executive Director


Donkeys and Cattle – PLEASE THINK AGAIN!

Earlier this week, we admitted yet another donkey for lifelong care who had lived  for most of his life (20+ years) with cattle.  And, once again, we found ourselves faced with  a creature who had suffered as a result of living for too  long in an unhealthy, unsuitable  environment.

Cattle are fed an extremely rich diet, as everyone knows.  Donkeys, on the other hand, thrive on coarse grasses and scrub.  When a donkey has no choice but to eat the food given to cattle, the donkey will gain weight rapidly.  Fat pockets will form on the hips, the belly will bulge and, most of all, the crest of muscle on the animal’s neck will become encased in fat.  Within a relatively short time, the crest will fall over, remaining permanently out of place.

Donkeys are herd animals and they thrive with their own kind.  When a donkey is placed with a herd of cattle, the donkey might bond with one other animal and, if threatened, might want to protect that one other animal.  But donkeys do not  have the instinct to protect an entire  herd.  This instinct is strong in certain breeds of dogs: eg. Great Pyrenees, Anatolian, Akbash or Maremma.  These donkeys make outstanding guardians and they are very comfortable living with cattle. (   

Finally, a donkey’s hooves should be trimmed by a farrier every 6-8 weeks.  This is not required for cattle and, too often, we see donkeys whose hooves are horribly overgrown, causing constant pain and damage to the animal’s back and spine. 

There are many, positive reasons to give a donkey a home and to give it care.  But compelling  it to live with cattle is not one of them.  Cattle are much better protected by canine guardians and donkeys live best, without stress, when they can be with a donkey companion.

Sandra Pady, Executor Director


Every evening, someone on staff makes a circuit of the barns and paddocks, just to ensure that all is well in the donkeys’ nighttime  world.  Although, on the coldest winter nights, night check can be somewhat onerous, on the vast majority of evenings,  it is a beautiful way to end the day. 

 Last night, as I walked past the Garden Paddock  Saucy, Ginger  and Juno raised their heads from their piles of hay and  mumbled a greeting.  Then  into the old barn, where Tibet and Juliet were in their stalls while Pansy, Sable, Jacques, Summer and Juanita stood in the barnyard, illuminated by the light of the moon.  After that, it was up the hill to the Donkey House where most of the herd were dozing inside on their bed of straw. The rest were in the fields grazing contentedly.  

In no time at all I  was wandering back to the house, feeling noticeably more calm than when I had started out.  Goodnight, Moon.

Sandra Pady, Executive Director


There is quite a feeling of excitement in the air around the DSC, currently, because Open Days resume this Sunday.  The cyclical nature of our year means that, as Spring gathers steam, we anticipate always  the return of our visitors.

During the winter months, we relish the company of the donkeys and the quietude of their everyday world.  Then, with the arrival of May, it is time to open our space once again to the thousands of visitors who will come up the lane.  The donkeys sense this change, I believe, as they opt to spend most of their time outside, now,  either in the sunshine or rolling in the mud.  (White donkeys?  Are there any?!)

With regard to the preparations required for all of these visitors, there has been a great change over the years.  I remember, in times long gone, when the calendar would turn to May and we would nonchalantly hang the Open sign on the gate.  Now, on the other hand, for 6 weeks staff and volunteers have been prepping the site.  Our new Welcome Centre is in place and decorated, as is the Learning Centre, and there are new gravel paths everywhere. Training sessions have been held for our greeters, made up of both volunteers and staff. 

 And when everything is in place, we will know we have succeeded once  the comment is heard,  “It is so peaceful and quiet around here.  The Farm is a magical place.”

Open Days: Wednesdays and Sundays, 10 am to 4 pm, early May to late October.  We look forward to your visit!

Sandra Pady, Executive Director