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March 2010

It was with much excitement at the beginning of the month for the Unit to be involved with the NMMM Cart Recapitalisation Project roll-out.  In January 2007, a meeting was held with a Mayoral Committee to explain the problems that the Unit had identified with the donkey carts in the townships – the problem of doing the best they can with what they can find.   The Unit Solution was taken on board by the Municipality and after much deliberation, meetings and phonecalls, finally the carts were to be released to the Carters.  A sponsor, Old Mutual, had been approached and had agreed to become involved and the date was set for the 20 carts to be handed over.  The venue of Arlington Racecourse was ideal, and during the Presentation by the NMMM and Old Mutual, there was a suppressed air of excitement as many of us had been waiting a long time for this very moment.

In due course, the Carters were handed their ‘Ownership Papers’, and after a lunch, there was a scramble to match papers to numbers and to put the carts together and get them going!   I do not want to think about what we would have done without Treloar and Ayanda, who got stuck in and started attaching centrepoles and unraveling harnessing – you are stars!  Ayanda took the opportunity to level out a few hooves as well.

It was with great pleasure that we followed three new donkey carts down the road, donkeys clipping away at a smart trot, wondering I am sure, what had happened, as the carts were much lighter and because the wheels were ‘in line’, they were so much easier to pull.  Drivers grinning with delight, much like their donkeys!

One new Cart owner has subsequently built a garage out of corrugated iron and shade cloth for his cart and yet another owner brings his donkeys and cart in after every day he works for safekeeping.

We would like to thank Walter Shaidi, Lumka Tetani and Madoda Mcwabeni for their support over the past three years leading to this culmination.  Definitely a day to remember!

From time to time, we are asked by township residents, for assistance with dogs.  While the Unit does not ‘do’ canines and felines, we are happy to facilitate spays and therefore bring the dogs into AWS for the operation and then return the animal to the owner.  So we find that many a time the dogs recognize us after the deed is done and race up for a pat!  There was also the occasion where township residents complained to the Community Policing Forum about cows causing mayhem leading to threats of ‘burning you out’.  We were able to get the relevant Municipal Official to take matters in hand, and so Robert can now rest easier at night.

Boesman, the RTA donkey midnight call, removed his staples by himself and after his wound in his leg was healed, returned to work.

A visit to the Dentist meant that I was ducking phonecalls as my mouth was anaesthetized and very painful – so sorry to those who called and who were not answered on that afternoon!

The Tetanus horse that was euthanased had his test results back – negative for African Horse Sickness.  Thank goodness!

A new horse owner in Uitenhage found us by going to another of our horse owners in Uitenhage and getting our contact number.  His problem was that on asking the shop for ‘dip’, he was given cattle dip which he promptly put on his horse and this led to the horse being in need of help.  The owner has been supplied with proper horse dip, the horse has been dewormed, soon to be vaccinated for AHS, dietary information discussed and sponsored food from EquiFeeds supplied.

A donkey mare with a nasty cut on the fetlock was brought in from northern Port Elizabeth, and after some really heavy antibiotic treatment, made a full recovery and has been returned to her owner.

The sub adult donkey that was brought in because she could not stand, was special attention by volunteer Liezl.   After cleaning up her coat and putting her on special food, we agreed that perhaps she was not lying down because she knew she could not get up unaided again which in turn meant that she was standing to a point of exhaustion when she would collapse.  So a nap time was instituted in the morning and the afternoon, much like a mother would do for her human baby.  Things were improving to the extent that she was starting to use her hind legs when we picked her up.  So it was devastating to come in one morning and find her dead.  We were all very miserable that day.

A horse owner who has an ungelded, bad mannered companion horse who resisted human contact of any sort, had been gentled by his owner to the extent that he could get his AHS vaccination.  What a surprise!  Well done, Ted!

Stompie, the donkey mare who came in to foal down, was returned with her foal to her owner in the township, but at the same time, we were requested to bring in their other lame donkey. 

We have to explain that when out and about in townships, we are asked to look at lame donkeys and most of the time, the lameness is due to a bruise (many roads are still gravel with stones) or an abscess.  We blithely say, get a bucket of water and put this packet of Epson Salts in to do a wet poultice on the hoof for a few days.  Initially, we get a really amazed look on the face of the owner.  Why?  Because just to wash himself or his clothing or to do the cooking, he/she has to walk quite a way to a stand pipe to get water – and NOW you want me to put my donkeys hoof in it!!  So sometimes, it is just better to bring the donkey in, do the job, and return the animal. 

A visit to deworm three reluctant donkeys resulted in us coming home with enough shadecloth to use as shelter and windbreaks – we just need the time to set it all up.  Thank you Shadibay!

A visit to two of our adopted donkeys at the request of the owner, meant that we met up again with Beauty and Rusty.  Beauty was the donkey foal that was savaged by township dogs and who spent 2 hours on the operating table with two vets in attendance being cleaned up and shaved to find all the holes and gashes and was subsequently named Beauty because she needed all the help she could get.  She shows only two feint scars on her hindquarters and is quite the most beautiful donkey, loved greatly by her adoptive family.  Rusty, the orphan, her companion has grown into a beautiful boy too.

A call about two stolen horses from a Malabar school yard overnight where they had been taken for a Fete, had us most concerned.  Very luckily for the owners, the horses had released themselves and found their own way home, all the way to Uitenhage!  Clever horses!

An early evening call from a Uitenhage township donkey, mule and horse owner, led to us bringing in a donkey with a broken leg, quite possibly after being hit by a vehicle.  After a visit to the Vet it was decided that there was only one solution which meant one last stop at the Kragga Kamma Game Park who are always available to help us, no matter what the time.

Tack sales this month have been good and there are a number of people who have been trying on the two pairs of boots we have in the hope that they will be the lucky ones to get the perfect fit!

And then along came Liezl.  Tired of ‘doing nothing’, she had decided, having spoken to her Vet, to come and help with the donkeys.  A volunteer who arrived totally equine ignorant, and who has not dropped the ball since she came. Specialling any donkey or horse with a problem and being the proverbial sponge with information.   Everyday she arrives and assists with anything and everything and apparently enjoying it all.  Welcome Liezl!

A request from our Friend Dorrie for ‘a couple of collection tins’ for husband Mark’s birthday bash in lieu of gifts, meant that the Unit was able to bank a sizeable donation towards our funds. Even the barmen on the evening used the opportunity to donate all their Tips to the Unit tins – Thank you guys!   A similar request was made to guests for Ashley Parker’s birthday, with great results.   We wish both gentlemen a Very Happy Birthday, and may you have many more!

Two out of town visits, one to Humansdorp and the other to Grahamstown townships, have led to mass tick grease applications to donkeys, AHS vaccinations to horses, and supply of our Stanley made harnessing.  Positive in all respects. The last visit to Grahamstown for  donkey clinic was almost a non starter as somehow the office door had become jammed.  Liezl came to the rescue to get it opened while we fled to Grahamstown with what we had. 

An early morning call from the SAPS Superintendent Botha meant that Rich, the donkey, was in in time for breakfast.

Friend Treloar, along with assisting with lameness problems on various donkeys, donated 6 new Lavender bushes for our Basil Bartlett Garden. Not only did she supply them, but clearly not trusting us to do the job right, she planted them too!   Thank you Treloar for everything that you help us with.

Dan the donkey who was adopted out to a family in Theescombe as a companion for their boisterous lonely donkey, has proved to be a hit with the delighted family who find that they are no longer in danger of damage as the two donkeys are now firm friends.

In line with my environmental side, we have begun, with the help of Stanley and his chainsaw, to remove the gumtrees from the girls camp.   Stanley, an experienced DWAF supervisor and chainsaw owner, is having great fun lopping the trees down without mashing the beautiful stand of Knobwoods that the donkeys so love to stand under and snooze in the humid heat we have been experiencing.  Coupled with ongoing rock and stone removal, the camp is going to look great when everything is done and dusted.  We just need time!

It is that time of the year again, so meetings and plans are in motion for our Animal Wellness Awareness Day over the Derby weekend in May.  Entertainment for the Friday 7th race meeting as well as the Sunday 9th May race meeting is being organized.  Anyone wishing to donate items for Auction to the Unit is welcome to contact us for collection/delivery.  As usual Dorrie Sham of New Turf Carriers is most anxious to ensure a great day for all as well as an injection of funds for the Unit.

A sizeable Bequest was received from Estate Late Nicholls for which we are very thankful. A plaque in acknowledgement as well as a Certificate of Recognition will be erected soon.

A Food Delivery to the Uitenhage southern townships unravelled on the 20th.  Everything was fine and we were almost finished when we saw one owner who beckoned us to stop urgently.  We were told that his donkey mare had been stolen, leaving the unweaned donkey foal alone and could we please go and fetch it and ‘take it away’.  Clearly the man found himself in a pickle as far as feeding was concerned.  This was followed shortly by another phonecall to say that the donkey that was having difficulty walking was now in and could we come and have a look.  We found that his leg was broken.  We had also found another donkey with plastic colic.  So the question was just how do we get this all sorted pronto. 

So, off we went to a northern Uitenhage township where we found the young foal attached with a tether to a shack.  When it became clear that a ride in the back of the bakkie was not an option, he was lifted up and placed on the laps of Stanley and Liezl in the bakkie cab where he calmly laid, ears upright and blowing in the wind until we got him home.  When milk was presented, he made a pig of himself having to ‘catch up’ on lost feeds since losing his mum.  We then hitched up the horsebox and returned for the colicky donkey as well as the broken leg donkey.  On arrival at the vet, it was decided that the best thing to do was take the broken leg to the Game Park, but we first had to sort out the colic.  Being very opposed to having a tube inserted in her nose, she managed to bleed from both nostrils and in the fight, gave an almighty sneeze which left me standing with blood everywhere.  (I could see that the man at the Café on the way home was wondering where my chainsaw was!)  

The foal, now named Braveheart, was the return to 4 hourly feeds until he settled down to his new routine with Liezl taking care of the day feeds, leaving me to the night patrols.  Thanks to a Friend, a good supply of foal milk was purchased on a Saturday afternoon and that has made feed time a pleasure and the colt is growing by the day.  The mare made a rapid recovery and has been returned to her ecstatic owner and the donkey with the broken leg is no longer in pain.  Lucky for me, Ayanda was quite happy to come and work for 5 hours that night to get everyone in their correct place.

We currently have 4 horses with us none of which is available for rehoming or adoption at present.  They have received a lot of interested queries but as the staff do not know anything about where and who and why, they are unable to answer questions about them.  When the time is right, everyone will be notified that they are available. 

Interesting visits have happened, including a mother and daughter who arrive and give the horses a good brush as well as a bunch of township children, who on being given a bag of carrots for them to eat, proceeded into the camp and ensured that all the donkeys ate them instead!

A number of Inspections of reported horses in bad condition have been undertaken, the necessary education, feed information and deworming, has been supplied.

One of our Foster donkeys was returned to us during the month but lucky for him and a friend, they are now safely adopted out to someone else.  I am sure Charlie and Curly will have a wonderful home for some time to come.

The bakkie has contributed to the circus this month, by getting two flat tyres, thankfully at different times, as well as a shot battery.  Luckily it conked out at the Stables and in the morning Stanley and Alfred were able to pushstart it so that a battery check could be done and a new battery purchased.

Two stray donkeys, a jenny and a jack, wandered into a property on Kragga Kamma Road, and although they were kept in in case the owners came looking for them, they were never claimed.   So they have been brought in, and the SAPS have been informed, but if you happen to know someone in that area who is looking for their two pets, please send them our way!

On going to feed Braveheart at 9.30 one night, I came across Rich grazing alongside Victoria Drive.  Again, I opened the window and said hello, what are you doing here, whereupon he brayed his helllooooooooo back and trotted after the car and was duly put in the camp for the night.

The Animal Anti Cruelty League Charity Shop phoned on two occasions for us to come and collect riding gear that had been donated to them.  This has led to us receiving a saddle as well as a pair of boots with stocks for the tack shop. 

Friend Kiara had fun one morning explaining the whys and wherefores of tick greasing ears and spent an hour instructing Stanley and Liezl how to do it without getting your block knocked off!  Thank you Kiara.

On our last feed delivery to Walmer, excess dog food that had been donated to the Animal Welfare Society was given to the Carters for their dogs along with the feed for the donkeys.  The Carters were delighted as were their dogs.
 
Unfortunately, in amongst all the above, a problem with the new cart drawpoles has meant a hole in the Petty Cash as well as my own pocket.  Hopefully the Manufacturer will be in town soon to sort out his problem.  As with their donkeys, problems mean no supper, nor the means to work, and work is what the Carters want to do.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the Volunteers.  They have pitched in, helped with brushing, nursing, feeding, giving us space to do ‘other stuff’.   Thank you to Liezel who came to help a month ago and has never missed a day!  Also to Sally, Denise, Stefan and Karien who are all prepared to go the extra mile to lend a hand.

M

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