Yes, everyone in our part of the world is feeling the heat these days. For the past week temperatures have been 30+C and to walk, even just to and from one’s car can feel like an immersion in a steam bath. While each one of us has a story to tell about the weather, this morning I was reminded that particular admiration is due from all of us in our air conditioned buildings to farm workers everywhere who have little choice but to be outside most of the time in summer.
During our walk up to the Sanctuary today, at the corner of the barn wall where the main yard opens up, I collided with a wall of hot air. In the instant, the temperature rose dramatically and enveloped me in a cloud. Instinctively, I took a step backwards. At the same time Kayla, one of our animal care staff, approached and of course she was wearing jeans. My obvious comment that they must be very heavy was completely unnecessary. Kayla, and every other staff member working with the animals, has no other choice. When one is engaging with large animals, sweeping out stalls, dragging water troughs, hefting bags of feed, throwing bales of hay……..the list is endless and all of it must be done with some protection for one’s humanly delicate skin. Day after day under the hot sun, encased by the heaviness of denim on the lower body means that extra-ordinary effort is required just to walk around. Stamina takes on a whole new meaning under such conditions.
Meanwhile, as we humans attempt to stay cooler, the donkeys and mules handle the heat in their particular ways. They go out to graze in the coolness of the nights or early mornings. No unnecessary effort is expended in their movements. They amble around the pastures, graze a while, and then stand very still. Much of the time shade is sought – be it in the relative cool of the Donkey House, barn or Mule Motel – but at the same it is not unusual to see an equine standing, snoozing in the full sun with short summer coat glistening in the heat. Soon enough, the time for movement arrives, though, and then more than likely a trip is made to a water trough for a good, long drink. It is so evocative to watch a donkey or mule take up the water and then work that coolness down his or her long throat.
They say that this extreme heat will carry on a few more days. During that time, our staff will carry on in spite of the temperatures and because of their commitment to their work. At each day’s end, the shower must feel so good.
Sandra Pady, Founder