Although the sunshine is glorious today, the temperature is -12C and most of the donkeys are opting to stay in the donkey house. They are relishing the new conditions inside which are much warmer now due to the completion of a long-anticipated project. To wit, during recent weeks work has been carried out to insulate the interior walls and ceiling of the loafing areas in the donkey house. Additionally, 6 heat lamps have been suspended from the ceiling and these will go a long way to providing even warmer ‘zones’ in the insulated interior. (Unlike horses and mules, donkeys do not have a layer of fat running under the hide along their backs. That is why it is so important, when there is rain or snow, to provide them with a shelter where their bodies can dry out and ward off chills.)
At the same time, construction of a protective wall on the south side of the building has been underway. This will enclose partially the outdoor roofed ‘porch’ adjoining the south facing paddocks. Our mules are spending the winter there and although they seem to want to stand outside no matter what the temperature, we wanted to provide them with options, and heat lamps too.
All of this work, at a cost of $27,000, has been made possible due to a generous bequest to the DSC included in the estate of one of our donors. We are grateful for all such donations because they are far-reaching and they help to secure our future. For those of you who are planning for the distribution of your property after death, upon request we will send along our booklet, “A Guide to Legacy Giving from the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada”. Please contact email@example.com or 519-836-1697. Gifts such as these make possible improvements to our facility that will provide benefits to the animals for decades to come.
Sandra Pady, Founder
It is not unusual to hear visitors to the Sanctuary exclaim that they would love to look after a donkey themselves and possibly become a DSC Foster Farm. Thoughts of the peacefulness of a rural afternoon spent in a barnyard, the comforting presence of equine friends, the hypnotic nature of the grooming process – there are so many benefits to be gained from the taking on of the responsibilities of care.
At the same time, though, as with everything in life, there are other dimensions to be considered before any action should be taken, not the least of which are the monetary costs attached to the feeding, housing and medical care of very large animals. (DSC donkeys are placed in pairs so that each can be assured of companionship.) The other day I tallied up the various expenses. It had been many years since my last reckoning and in the intervening period the numbers had increased substantially.
Hay is now $5/bale and one of barley straw is $3. Given that a Standard donkey can go through 3 1/2 bales of each per week for feeding and bedding, in a year’s time over $2800 would be spent. Visits from the farrier at $32/each mean a yearly total of $384. Then there are 3 deworming treatments/year, another $80, along with annual inoculations and a checkup by the veterinarian: $200. These costs are in addition to the initial investment in such stable supplies as a donkey care reference book, water bucket, grooming caddy, halter, lead rope, rubber bowl, fly mask, brushes, combs, first aid, broom, blanket, bedding fork ….. the total can reach $500 for items like these in the blink of an eye. Finally, there are the significant housing costs to be considered: a small stable, a minimum 1 acre fenced paddock per animal, hydro, a constant source of water, and access to a trailer if transportation of the donkeys is required.
Whenever someone enquires about the possibility of becoming a foster farm for DSC donkeys, we always bring up these costs of care. They are real and most of them are ongoing.
Sandra Pady, Founder
Today, it is very cold outside and a few minutes ago as I walked up the lane with the dogs, there were no other animals in sight. In spite of the frigid temperature, given that the sun was blazing in the sky I had expected to see some donkeys out in the paddocks, basking in the solar warmth. That is their usual practice on such glowing January afternoons. Instead, when I went inside the Donkey House there they were, munching away at their free-choice barley straw, obviously contented to forego the direct sunlight for their shelter with its added warmth of shared body heat.
As I stood and communed with the donkeys, I could not help but be reminded of how their apparent obliviousness to weather conditions is in such contrast to our human fascination (or is it an obsession?) with temperature levels and wind chill factors. From morning until night the paranoia of the 24/7 news world warns unendingly of catastrophes to come while cameras comb the globe, seeking out images of extreme weather. These tense predictions pervade our lives — and to what end?
As thoughts like these ran through my head, I appreciated anew the peace and quiet of the donkeys’ world. Too soon, it was time to return to the house. The dogs raced ahead while I plodded along, feeling the cold of the moment with my face turned in to the light. My mind was blissfully blank.
Sandra Pady, Founder