We drove to see the donkey’s with fresh water, straw and seed.
It was a hot day in early September.
Clouds of dust followed the jeep as we bounced down the dry rutted tracks to the finca.
We transport water every two days during summer.
The bale of straw will last them three days.
We can’t bring more because there is no storage that we can use.
We’d like to build a feeding station before winter comes.
The area has heavy rainfall and this quickly spoils any bales of straw left in the open.
We parked just outside the gates. The two donkeys Domingo and his son Chico were nearby under the shade of some leafy oak trees. The sheep are never far from the donkeys. As soon as they heard us they headed up to the gates. A single-file procession with Domingo leading followed by Chico then Lily and Dolly in the rear.
We let them through the gates to see us while we unloaded the Jeep.
We know that they won’t run away because it’s feeding time soon.
The Spanish summer sun is relentless. It dries and scorches all but deep-rooted trees and shrubs.
The donkeys eat some of the leaves but most in reach were eaten months ago, only blackcurrant bushes have green leaves at the moment. They eat these carefully to avoid the thorns but they can offer little sustenance.
Through late autumn to spring a small stream runs on the land, it pools in places making natural drinking spots for the animals. There are grasses and herbs that grow in small patches. The mountainside is very steep with 33-50% inclines. It is rock strewn and mostly barren. At around 50,000sqm the fenced land is the perfect natural terrain for a small herd of donkeys. They have freedom of choice about where they sleep and where they spend different parts of the day. The steepness keeps them fit and the rocks wear down their hooves naturally, so we have none of the hoof problems associated with donkeys kept on soft soils or grassland.
Here are some photos of donkeys and the sheep which we took.