Thursday 19th February.
‘Amazing’is the honoury cap that fits our departed furry friend Alex who lost his life battle today: his spirit still willing but body so weak.
His time to go to Donkey Heaven. He fought each day as if it was his last.
Tobias (or Toby), his much younger faithful companion, was always near his side braying loud and furiously if the old fella was stuck and couldn’t get up unaided.
Alex was handsome, chestnut brown, with distinguished white spots; he often held his head low but walked tall with a lean frame and straight legs housing small, short hooves. He arrived at Donkey Paradise 7 years ago, his previous life unknown, but soon became the old gentleman in the stable with no malice, kicks or bites. His loves included: morning Porridge which he willing shared with Toby, grazing and roaming the highest terrain in paradise whilst taking pride he always knew the best ways down, being cuddled and groomed and having a full belly.
Toby knew Alex’s moods so well, how he was feeling, how much energy he held. If the old man stayed in the stable too long Toby would come back for him, and nudge him to ‘come on mate – it’s nice outside, let’s go and eat grass.’
Two days Alex battled, we turned him, held him, placed him, covered him, gave him pain relief and showed him how much he was loved. He slipped away slowly and peacefully, with donkey’s circling him and his faithful mate Toby and people who cared by his side.
RIP ‘Amazing Alex’ xx
Winter Tales is just a play on words as at “El Paraiso del Burro” there are so many tales: most are happy ones and many are wagging and wafting tales of different shapes, sizes and colours!
How is the winter progressing for our followers? The beginning of February was rather stormy in Asturias, with the arrival of heavy snow, although we were lucky enough not to get any snow here at El Paraiso del Burro as we are a not so far above sea level. However, the snow can be seen all around us and some parts of Asturias were totally cut off by deep snowfall. Furthermore, the main road just below the sanctuary is now closed indefinitely due to a landslide following heavy rain. The donkeys have spent a lot of time indoors in January and February and so, when the sun finally came out this last week, the donkeys especially were very glad to get back out into the fields.
In January we received two new donkeys all the way from the Pays Basque: the lovely Burri and her daughter Burriki. Both were well loved but unfortunately their previous owners were unable to keep them and contacted us.
Work continues of course and our willing volunteers are always busy, with stable cleaning and animal care especially high on the list. This month there are new apple trees to be planted and continuing work to provide new pathways. As you can see from the photos, the pathway leading to the cabin is coming along well and provides a much safer route and a new path is also being constructed behind the house to provide a dry route through an unusually muddy area. Unfortunately, in the process of laying the path, part of it gave way due to water erosion and now a new drain will have to be put in to divert the water away.
I hope you enjoy these photos of the landscape and the animals enjoying the sunshine after the rain.
Winter is a beautiful time of year here in Asturias, when the Picos de Europa mountains are often covered in snow and there is a good view of the mountains from the grounds of “El Paraiso del Burro,” however, at this level, we rarely get snow covering the ground for any length of time.
Winter is a time of year for taking a little extra care of the animals to ensure that they do not get too cold or too wet. At “El Paraiso del Burro” we have large, dry stables and outdoor shelters, stocked with plenty of hay and drinking water, to keep our donkeys warm and dry. They are always brought back into the stables to shelter from the heavy rain, wind and occasional snow.
Donkeys come originally from hot, dry countries and their coats are quite different to that of a horse. A donkey’s coat becomes wet through very quickly on rainy days and the donkey quickly becomes cold and miserable. As donkeys can also be prone to pneumonia or bronchitis, it is important to provide a shelter for them so they are able to get out of the rain. How often do you see a donkey left out in a field in the rain? They never look very happy do they? Please provide a shelter for your donkey and remember that if you look after him or her well he will live longer and be healthier.
Finally, I wish you all a very Happy New Year from everyone at “El Paraiso del Burro”.
Five years ago the cattle-dealers of Arriondas came to drop off a friendly little donkey with curly hair. As this happened the day before our great helper Leo went back to Holland, the donkey was named Leo after him. Leo immediately adopted him and has done so ever since. Last Saturday night little Leo left us and his fellow donkeys forever.
Leo had the most piercing bray imaginable; when he started braying we all ran out to see what was happening. But he soon gave up braying and became one of the quietest, friendliest inhabitants of the Donkey Paradise.
Last Saturday he seemed a bit feverish and was given penicillin twice. He hardly touched his food. In the evening he lay down and he died very early the following morning.
Rest in peace, little Leo. If there exists a donkey heaven, you will most certainly be there. The people that have known you while you were here, will always remember you with love and affection.
For more photos of Leo and to see a lovely photo of Leo with Leo his sponsor follow this link: http://www.paraisodelburro.com/pictures/animals/donkeys/leo/index.php
A yearly recurring event is the autumn apple harvest, as the land of the Donkey Paradise has lots of apple trees with cider apples.
It’s not always easy to carry out all the donkey-related tasks ánd collect all the apples, but this year we were fortunate enough to have a lot of helpers. They had to shake the apples from the trees and put them in 30-kilo bags. These bags will then be taken to the village, where they are collected by the truck from a cider factory in Nava.
Thanks to the enthusiasm of the helpers and the warm weather we were able to collect 10.000 kilos! The money is used for necessary reforms of the buildings.
The pictures below will give you an impression of this year’s apple harvest and the amount of work done by a lot of wonderful volunteers! Marleen
Friends of the Donkey Paradise spotted an old little donkey in a country lane, in the blazing sun without water or anything to eat. So they stopped to give him some water. Only then did they see that his hooves were extremely long – too long for him to walk. So they contacted us and asked us what could be done.
One of our volunteers went to see the animal straight away. He also contacted our farrier, who came and cut the donkey’s hooves. Fortunately little old Alfredo was then brought over to the Donkey Paradise, where he will be taken good care of from now on. Little by little he is settling in.
On the photo: Nico (brown), another very old donkey, has come over to welcome Alfredo (white) in the Donkey Paradise.
Most of our donkeys are elderly and require a lot of car. We are a small charity and we depend upon donations to continue our work. If you would like to sponsor one of our donkeys you can find more details on this blog or on our website. Your help is needed and is greatly appreciated.
The majority of the donkeys we welcome to El Paraiso del Burro have problems with their hooves, many of which are severe, as they have never been seen by a farrier before. Donkeys naturally live in dry, stony conditions and are not used to the damp atmosphere and green pastures of Asturias. Their feet absorb more water than a horse’s hoof and they are prone to Laminitis and to wounds and infections of the foot. It is therefore important to check the hooves of the donkeys on a regular basis in order to be able to act quickly to stop infection from spreading and to keep the hoof as clean as possible.
The donkeys at El Paraiso del Burro are seen by a farrier four times a year and, in between, we check and clean the hooves of all the donkeys. Frieda has some severe problems due to poor care in her past. Here we can see Frieda’s foot being cleaned by Simone to remove dirt and stones; the foot is then washed with sterile water, a “frog” antiseptic is used to prevent the spread of any infection and Simone then covers her foot with a pad to help support her legs and to keep her feet clean during the day. At night, when Frieda returns to the clean, dry stable, her pads are removed so that the air can circulate around the foot.
Frieda is a good donkey. She is used to standing quite still whilst her feet are cleaned. At first she is not too keen to walk on her “pads” but very quickly she adapts and seems to walk better as the foot is less sore.
The t-shirts we now have for sale to visitors of the donkey sanctuary are a great success. In less than a month we have already sold out some of the models and colours! In the photo the volunteers at our August Open Day are wearing some of the models. The print was designed by Lidia Fanjul, a young Asturian artist who gives art workshops.
It has been a very busy couple of months at the Donkey Paradise, but luckily there have also been lots of wonderful volunteers from all over Europe, and beyond, to help with the work and activities. Also, Marleen was happy to have her daughter, Grietje, and her family over for a holiday with her and the animals.
We have a lovely new donkey called Matias. He is quite old and unfortunately has not had a good life so he will need some care and attention but he already has a kind sponsor – Ria. He was very wary at first but he is responding to love and attention and he has the loudest bray which Marleen likens to the siren of a boat in the fog!
Some dear friends of the Donkey Paradise, Frank and Helma came again from Holland for their summer holiday, which is more like a working holiday. This time they brought with them an enormous trailer loaded with goodies – a beautiful wooden house and a car port. The car port will be used mainly as a shelter for the dogs as it can get extremely hot here in the summer months. Thank you to Helma and Frank and to those who helped them in the erecting of these buildings. The summer house will have a special use – more about this in a later blog.
At the beginning of August we held our Open Day and this was well-attended and enjoyed by donkeys and visitors alike. Perhaps you can pick out some of the donkeys you know in these photos.