OPEN DAYS – Here they come!

Before we know it, our seasonal Open Days will resume at the Sanctuary Farm.  From May 1st until the end of October, on Wednesdays and Sundays (10 – 4),  we will welcome many thousands of visitors to the donkeys and their special world.

During the 1990’s, when the DSC was very much a  fledgling operation, we would turn the calendar to May and hang out our little sign of welcome.  Visitors numbered around 1000 annually.   The arrival of the new millenium signalled the beginning of steady increases, though,  and  we will not be surprised if over 10,000 people  pass through our Welcome Centre this year.  Needless to say, advance preparations have risen accordingly.

Currently, our Longears Boutique is being relocated to brighter, roomier quarters and this has occasioned the renovation of former office space.  Our Welcome Centre, too, will be moved and reconfigured.  Then there are the gardens that need tending and new  picnic areas to be developed.  Inside our Education Centre, new displays are being mounted and, as well, we are working to make our site as accessible as possible to all ages and abilities.

Top of the list, of course, are the preparations around the donkeys.  Our visitors like to mingle with our equine residents and/or to have access to as many as possible ‘over the fence’.  Last season, visitors commented that our more active gelding group was grazing in areas that were too far away.  This is being changed in 2013 so that Panne, Cocoa, Apollo and their pals will be more available for pats and compliments.

Along with the human requirements.  the donkeys’ welfare is, of course, a primary concern.  The ‘Donkeys Only” part of the barnyard is being expanded so that the animals can  take  rests comfortably  away  from enthusiastic human attention.  Mingling with people can be  tiring, as we all know.   

This brief overview of our preparations for Open Days  gives some indication of the importance that we place on this outreach part of our work.  We want to share with you our philosophy of animal welfare and care and, when you come to visit the donkeys, we want  you to enjoy an  informed, relaxed and significant experience.  An experience that is a world apart from everyday urban life.  See you soon, we hope.

Sandra Pady, Founder



Too much time has passed since I have contributed to this conversation.  Three weeks ago, David and I  moved out of the house at the DSC and we live now in a new house,  built on a 2 acre lot at  the north-east corner of the Sanctuary Farm.  As you may or may not know, the DSC purchased the farm in June, 2010.  In the interim, we  lived in the farmhouse as tenants. 

Of sorts, this recent move is the ending of an era  for us.  Although I retired last September, it seems so much more official now that we no  longer look out our sunroom windows at the hustle and bustle of Sanctuary life.  Instead, we gaze at a  marsh which sits in the middle of Velvet’s Woods near to the entrance to the farm property.  The intricate web of life in this acquatic world  is now  ours to discover.

In many ways, the DSC has become  a place that I ‘visit’  twice each day when I walk with my dogs.  Each time, we go down the lane and up the hill to the  approach to the farmhouse.  Then,  we veer into the parking lot and cut through the Welcome Centre to the farm lane where we enter and walk among the donkeys in the barnyard.  The serenity never fails to  wrap around us like an envelope.  After a few words exchanged with staff, who are busy  with chores, it is time to go back via  the farmhouse – where the offices are  located now – and deliver the mail.  Then it is onwards to the pond,  past Memorial Hill,  around Apple Tree Hill and  into the woods surrounding Wild Duck Marsh.  After that it is just a short walk along a trail  to our new home.

Of course, I realize that the donkeys are receiving the best of care in my stead,  and that fact is very reassuring.  Nevertheless,  in great part, “the wheel  turns now without me” when it comes to the day to day at the Sanctuary.  Katharin, Kim, Adam, Sarah, Kayla, Ruth, Martina, Terri: you are doing such a great job but I have to add that  watching from the outside is not nearly so fascinating or satisfying as being in the middle.

But it is time to turn to new projects, especially that book that I have been promising to write for years.  It will be greatly rewarding to go down memory lane and revisit the amazing donkeys, mules – and people – who have crowded my life since the early days of the DSC.  As for this blog, I will continue to write about Sanctuary affairs, albeit from the outside/in.

Sandra Pady, Founder