Once upon a time there was in the Donkey Paradise a much beloved volunteer. He, a traveler, had seen a lot of places in the world and now wanted to settle down and learn to grow his own food. Around the cabaña in the valley he created his own small paradise. Miche -Michael – left after a stay of 2 years. He and Maria now have their own family.
In case you wonder where the name of our new donkey ‘Miche’ came from: now you know, he was named after our volunteer with that name. Donkey Miche came from Gijon, where he had lived alone and without a shelter in a plot of land near the harbour for over 15 years. He is not really used to people or other donkeys. He wants to make friends but doesn’t really know how to go about it.
After his castration he will be able to live together with lots of other donkeys; he will be able to socialize and gain the skills needed to make friends and he will be well cared for.
The two new inhabitants of the Donkey Paradise want to present themselves to you, so here they are:
“Hello there! My name is Elfie, and I have been a working mule all my life. Now I am so old, that both my previous owner and me have lost count of the years! I was bought free by one of the volunteers of this paradise, and she also gave me my name. I like it – so far I they only called me ‘mule’ (‘mula’ in Spanish) and it’s nice to have a real name now. I live in a little house now. I used to live outside and I still have a bad cold and that’s why I am now wearing a warm cover during the nights.”
“I am Willem and I like Elfie but she doesn’t like me. And, even worse, the people here will not let me near the other donkeys until I’ve had an operation … Just my luck!! But then maybe that is not as bad as going to the slaughter, so I will not complain too much. Hopefully I will be able to join the lovely lady donkeys afterwards.”
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
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.
It was love at first sight, Lua. When I looked into your eyes, I knew your place was with me.
You settled in well with the dogs, cats, donkeys and horses. After years of being tied down, you enjoyed your freedom here and even jumped and played around like a giant puppy.
And then the limping started. I didn’t think much of it at first, but it turned out to be the worst of the worst: bone cancer in your shoulder – very painful, very fast growing. You lost your regained joy of life and even stopped liking your food. So the vet came to end your life in the best possible way, given the circumstances.
Love for donkeys is not just a Dutch thing, judging by the volunteers in our Donkey Paradise who come from all over the world.
At this moment for instance we have volunteers from Spain (of course!), England, Sweden, Hungary, Belgium, Italy and Venezuela. In the past we also had helpers from Australia, United States, New-Zealand, Lithuania, Finland and even China!
It’s always a great experience to get to know people from other countries and cultures, although the language that we speak in the Donkey Paradise is sometimes a strange mix of everything!