That time of year has arrived when thoughts turn to the coming winter months. In spite of the forecasts circling around that El Nina’s effect will be causing a mild winter, no chances will be taken with preparations for the animals’ care.
In September, we built a new large shelter for the mules(pictured above), complete with heat lamps for when it is very cold. Thanks to a generous bequest from the estate of one of our donors, we were able to carry out this construction. Although the mules are often seen standing outside on the coldest of days, we appreciate that they are an aging population in need of a warmer place at times. Molly, our little hinny, is 25 years old, now, and Reno, Jimmy and Gertie are in their twenties. Danny Boy is the oldest, however, at almost 30 years old. He passes his time in the barnyard these days and is on a special diet that helps him to keep on weight.
Last Sunday, several volunteers gave generously of their time with other winter preparations. Snow fences were erected on the west side of the driveway, some signs were taken down, benches and tables were stacked in the forest, the gardens were raked and trimmed and still others worked with a wood chipper to rid areas of fallen wood.
Along with the mule’s shelter, much of the south ‘porch’ of the Donkey House has been enclosed recently. That area, which has access to a large field, is now the home of many of our Miniature donkeys. They are living together so that their diets can be monitored and adjusted as needed. Weight goes on their little bodies very easily and it is always a challenge to keep them in healthy trim.
Our laneway is over 1/2 a kilometer long and in winters past we have used an old snow blower, as well as a ‘pusher’ attachment for one of our tractors to clear a track so that cars can come in. Both were just moderately effective and so we are relieved to have been able to purchase recently an ancient pick up truck with a plow on its front which should work well on the lane.
While all of this has been going on, the donkeys and mules, have been preparing in their own way for the coming cold by growing winter coats that are nice and thick. Their appetites have increased as well and, of course, winter blankets for our older donkeys are out and ready for use.
Blow, blow, winter winds: it’s good to be well-prepared.
Sandra Pady, Founder