Rubí was my first donkey. When I went to Parcent on the other side of the Sierra Bernia looking for donkeys, nearly four years ago, Rubí was the two year old donkey who stood out as the real charmer. I bought her immediately. Here is the blog post from that day in December 2010.
It was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Unknown to me, Rubí was pregnant with the foal that would eventually be called Morris.
Over the years, Rubí has always been the donkey in the background. She is a true Eeyore: always facing awy from the others, and me, gazing into the distance and wondering if it is Tuesday.
Is it Tuesday? I think we should be told.
In the morning at first light, the donkeys gaze up at the house and bray for their breakfast. The first thing they get is chopped carrots and Matilde, Aitana and Morris stand around snorting and stamping in expectation. Meanwhile Rubí is usually at the other end of the field, ignoring the whole sordid business of carrots, and looking into the far distance watching the sun come up over the Mediterranean. That could provide a valuable clue whether it is Tuesday.
When the first two donkeys arrived in March 2011, Rubí proved quite a character from the start. We had the famous local incident where I was marooned in Finestrat overnight. This was due to Rubí refusing to walk home in fading daylight.
In four years I have learned to understand Rubí’s funny little ways and work with her. She is a very affectionate donkey. She will not walk through the valley path to Finestrat because she arrives at a particular spot on the path and decides it is too dangerous. (Crocodiles? Imminent earthquake? Who knows what goes on in Rubí’s head?)
Rubí is not always quiet: at times she goes quite wild.
And then there was her foal Morris…
Morris on 1st October 2011 pictured with Rubí half an hour after being born
It’s a confusing life for a poor Eeyore donk, and maybe she will never know whether it is Tuesday.
After hearing unusual noises I went down to the field and Morris was doing circuits with a plastic bucket on the end of his nose. I could not get a video of that because he stopped immediately I arrived. Videoing that will be a project for another time…
So I threw the donkeys a handful of algarobas (carob beans) and here’s another equine foodie video.
Happy birthday Alys! I hope you like your new toy! (Now you need to download Whatsapp to get free international text messaging and I can send you the latest donkey photo as it happens!)
The donkeys had their new toy a couple of weeks ago, pictured above. It is an inflatable boat fender bought in a ship’s chandlers in Vilajoyosa. Just as last year with the failed football toy, they have still not responded to it. The rope handle is supposed to make it interesting for them, so they could pick ity up and run with it, or throw it around. So far it simply gets an occasional sniff or a slight kick, but they are diplaying little real interest in it. Now I have put it in a tyre, so when I return to the field I can see when they have taken it out and moved it.
Animal feed store Nutrivila delivered the monthly food supply a few days ago. The four donkeys get through 14 bales of straw, 8 bales of alfalfa, and 5 sacks of grain every month. (Current cost about 150 Euros per month.) I mix the alfalfa in with the straw, so it works out about 70% straw and 30% alfalfa (straw bales are bigger); and one scoop of grain each per day, just as an aid to digestion. I would like to compare donkey diets with other donkey keepers who comment here.
Nutrivila van after delivery
Aitana and Matilde in breakfast bowl of mixed cereals and carob beans
And here’s a few more pics from recently.
Donkey ear in the sunset (Matilde)
Rubí out walking last Sunday, nervous about nearby dogs
Spanish authorities have said they will kill Excalibur
The nursing assistant Teresa Romero who contracted Ebola in Madrid was the first person infected outside of West Africa, after caring for a Spanish priest who died of Ebola last month. Authorities in Madrid have three people under quarantine, and the family dog is due to be killed in case it has Ebola.
The dog has now become a cause célèbre with thousands of people signing an online petition. His story is now in Time magazine. It is the Spanish Health Minister Ana Mata who should be put down, not this dog. His name is Excalibur. Sign the petition here: http://linkis.com/www.change.org/p/0BwOO
After Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his government reneged on abortion law reform last month, now he wants to kill your pets… Now this dog has more support than the ruling party. If the Spanish government thought it was a clever idea to repatriate nationals with Ebola from Africa, they should have provided Ebola suits for all Spanish pets.
185,000+ signatures now on petition to save Excalibur. See The Spain Report for up to date information about the dog (and other Spanish news) https://twitter.com/thespainreport
Update Wednesday 9th October 5 pm
The police went in heavily, clubbing protesters outside the flat where the dog was. They took Excalibur away and killed her. The next Spanish election could be lost by the Partido Popular over the incompetence in the Ebola crisis but also in the murder of a dog. The petition reached 381,000 (yes, that’s 381,000 people not voting for the Partido Popular in elections next year, Mariano.)
The official statement says the dog was “sedated beforehand”. It would have been good if it had been tested beforehand. This incident shows the contempt with which incompetent authorities hold the public.
Today we remember St Francis, a very solemn point in the year for all who regard this remarkable 13th century Umbrian saint as their helper in trying to conform to the person of Jesus Christ. On this feast we remember the holy death of a saint, and also the remarkable conversion of the young man of Assisi and his astonishing evangelical life which brought thousands of Catholics into full conformity with their faith in his lifetime, then millions more later.
Primitive Franciscan cell, Monteluco near Spoleto
Today we have a Pope who has chosen the name of Francis – who wants to bring a message of Franciscan simplicity but accidentally ends up with very complicated and confused media reports of what he actually said.
We also have a strangely skewed perception of the simplicity of St Francis’ message, which is often read as a criticism of the perceived power and authority of the Church. Nothing could be further from the truth. The prophetic dream of Pope Innocent III after meeting Francis for the first time tells us all we need to know about Francis’ mission: he fully supported the structures of the Catholic Church and its doctrine at a time when these values were being undermined.
Throughout his life, Francis demonstrated an extraordinary affinity with creation and often the examples of stories involving Francis and animal life reflect his use of creation to preach the Gospel. But how did we go from that to St Francis as “Patron Saint of Animals”?
Why is it World Animal Day on the feast of St Francis?
Don’t get me wrong: I have four equines – the biggest sort of animals you can get – and I have spent most of today with them. But not because it is “World Animal Day”. I do not need such a day to notice there are animals in the world. Here is a photo of the latest attempt to interest them with a new toy. Thirty euros wasted. Maybe they will play with the new toy eventually…
I love my animals. So it is not because I devalue animals that I make this statement; but I cringe at the conflation of the feast of St Francis and “World Animal Day”.
In the remarkable life of St Francis we can see a way to connect our lives with the Gospel life of the Son of God. To reduce that to the celebration of an Umbrian mystic who had power over animals is entirely missing the point.
The magic moments of Aitana’s first steps, 2nd October 2011
The day after Morris was born, some friends came to see him and Matilde upstaged the whole day by giving birth to Aitana while we watched. Never to be forgotten! What a magic day that was. Below is Aitana, on her birthday, three years later.
Birthday girl Aitana this evening.
What about a birthday present? Always difficult buying for donkeys: they are very picky. The football disaster has already been recorded on this blog.
After that farce, I went in search of a horse toy in the Tots d’Animals shop in La Nucia a few months ago but the one thing they had was sixty Euros: a robust rubber ball with a handle on it. No way was I paying that kind of money for a portable beach ball!
However, this week in school, I noticed kids on orange rubber space hoppers in the reception class, and I suddenly connected: they were just the same as the “horse toy” being sold for sixty Euros! So this evening I went to find a toy shop, but the big Rubik’s toy shop in La Marina had closed down. Due to the financial crisis probably; as everything is ultimately blamed on the financial crisis rather than commercial incompetence.
A friend and neighbour just told me there is another big toy store that I didn’t know about. Too late for Morris and Aitana’s birthday, but I shall try to get a space hopper as their pressie and give it to them at the weekend. Watch out for the video. They will run away from the space hopper and hide in the corner of the field. A betting certainty.
Rubí, Morris, Matilde and Aitana lining up to greet me on my arrival from work, which Morris and Aitana take turns to announce with sustained braying.
Morris on 1st October 2011 pictured with Rubí half an hour after being born
I just read the blogpost from three years ago today, recording the birth of Morris. Happy birthday Morris! Tomorrow is the birthday of Aitana – born the day after Morris – and we will celebrate the two of them with carrots, champagne, fireworks and a disco on the beach…
No, prolly just the carrots and a pressie.
Morris recently: a rather sturdy chap