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