The forest fires in British Columbia are devastating the land and forests. These conflagrations get worse each year. Historically, they have been part of the natural ecological cycle; now, however – and due to global warming – their numbers, duration and intensity have escalated dramatically.
These photos of a part of the Nicola Valley, south of Kamloops, are of the land where Anjou, a DSC foster donkey lives. Most of the time this environment is perfect for Anjou and his 3 donkey companions. They graze over 265 acres of shrubby grassland and then they return each evening to their barn where they receive much attention from their caregivers. The ground is rough, hilly, precipitous in places and rocky. Usually, one can see for miles but the haze in these photos blocks most of the vistas. It is the smoke from fires burning 30 miles away.
Anjou’s caregivers have been on high alert for over a month, now. Every day the temperature soars above 30 degrees Celsius and, unlike in years past, there has been a lot of wind. Sparks in a windy landscape like this can turn into a fast-moving blaze within minutes.
It is a given, of course, that neighbours are tremendously supportive of each other in this vulnerable grassland world. Next door to the farm where Anjou lives, the rancher has large equipment, water trucks and several workers on standby. If a fire were to start, his backhoe would be used to cut trenches around houses and barns. In the meantime, people work outside, removing dry brush from the vicinity of buildings. It is never-ending work, too often complicated by extreme air pollution that clogs the air, caused by the smoke from distant flames.
One can only hope that these fires will die out sooner rather later. In the meantime, our hearts are with the people and animals in the Nicola Valley, Williams Lake, Kamloops and in neighbouring areas.
Sandra Pady, Founder
It has been a month since Tibet’s death and I continue to miss her presence very much. The smoothness of her silky coat, the sweet smell of hay on her forehead, her inimitably delicate walk: she fascinated me in so many ways. From her first moments in my presence – both of us shivering in the coldness of a dark auction barn – to the last time that I stroked her beautiful ears, this little donkey floated around in my imagination.
During two decades with us Tibet experienced the many stages of a full life. Upon arrival at the DSC she was only 3 years old and already pregnant. She carried her foal, Tengen, for almost thirteen months, birthed him all alone, and then nursed and guided him during his first two years into independence. The decade following was an energetic time for Tibet when she mingled comfortably with the donkeys in the main herd. Hours and hours were passed grazing in the pastures or resting comfortably in the warmth and security of the Donkey House. Then, one day while out in the fields, Tibet twisted her leg and tore a ligament. This injury would go on to inhibit her movements from that time onwards. Thereafter she lived in the barnyard paddock with the older donkeys whose pace of life was much slower. She became a favourite of countless visitors, young and old.
For my part, I always looked forward to encountering Tibet. Her very presence charmed me. I’m sure that bystanders were often surprised by my effusive greetings to this little equine; nevertheless, I would chatter on and on. Looking back, I realize that my compliments to her were part of my desire to connect, to experience the full attention of her gaze. Such moments were always evanescent, though, because of course from her vantage point I was just the other, essentially foreign and unimportant. As I did not exist for her, nor did she for me.
There is one more thing about Tibet that I feel compelled to share. While I miss her very much, I know that I am waiting, too. You see, Tibet arrived at the Sanctuary less than a year after Alice’s death. Alice was a little grey donkey as well, equally fascinating in her own way and the space she left was filled by Tibet. I wonder who will be next.
Sandra Pady, Founder