Our visit to Island Farm donkey sanctuary

​I’ve always like donkeys. I think they’re cool and I’ve supported various donkey charities over the years, but the only time I tried to visit one, it was out of season and the sanctuary was closed to the public. One donkey came up to the fence to bray at us, but it wasn’t the same as going inside!

So one of the things I put on our list of things to do on our week off was visit a donkey sanctuary. I discovered the Island farm Donkey Sanctuary near Wallingford in Oxfordshire and we drove there on a sunny day, earlier this week.

There is no entrance fee, but donations are appreciated and you can also support the sanctuary in other ways such as by adopting a donkey, or buying gifts from the shop. The sanctuary is open every day apart from Christmas day from 11 till 4, and they sometimes hold special events. There is one planned for the 2nd Bank Holiday weekend in May (2019) so check out the site if you’d like to go!

Visitors are encouraged to interact with the donkeys, though children should be supervised to ensure they don’t scare the donkeys and any treats should be given in at reception. It’s hard to make sure that all donkeys have a balanced diet if people give them too many treats, and some of the donkeys are on special diets, which means certain foods would be harmful to them.

When we arrived, we saw a lot of donkeys out in their fields. The donkeys are in various fields with groups ranging in size. Donkeys like company!

Speaking of company – going on a weekday during term-time was great, because when we were walking around, there was hardly anyone else there apart from a couple of visitors and people who worked there. I like donkeys more than people!

There was also some information around on the walls to teach visitors about donkeys, what they like to eat, differences between horses and donkeys, and further information about individual donkeys who live at the sanctuary.

After popping into reception, we were encouraged to walk around the grounds and see the donkeys. Many of them were behind electric wire fences. I did reach across to pat one who came right up to us, but I don’t suggest that anyone else does that! Also we later found that some of the donkeys were wandering around on the path area, so I could get up close and talk to a couple of them who were grazing or standing around in the sunshine. As someone who can’t see the animals, I’m always especially happy if I can get to meet some!

They didn’t solicit attention like your average golden retriever! Well maybe they would if they know you, or if they know you’ve come to feed them! But they stood still while I stroked and talked to them, with one of them twitching his ear in my direction. I think they like to know what’s going on!

Jack was definitely up for a stroke, and stood patiently while we had a chat.

Pollyanna must have been tired, because she was chilling out on the floor, happy for me to stroke her lovely silky coat!

Many of the donkeys come to the sanctuary with problems associated with neglect, such as skin problems, parasites, and worst of all, overgrown hooves. These are very painful and if not treated, can lead to problems with walking. This of course means extra vet bills to get the problems sorted out.

The donkeys seemed content, chomping at the grass, or trying to get their friends to play!

As well as around 120 donkeys, and over 50 more living with foster families, there are other animals at the sanctuary such as a couple of Shetland ponies, some chickens, goats, and a pig!

The donkeys have plenty of space to graze and enjoy the sunshine, and as they don’t like getting wet, there are also shelters for when it rains. Some of the ones whom I stroked had been enjoying a roll around, which keeps the pesky flies at bay, and also helps to remove any loose hair.

Some of the donkeys are active in the local community, attending fairs, starring in nativity plays, or taking part in country shows. This raises the profile of the work of the sanctuary and introduces new people to the donkeys. The donkeys have also starred in some TV shows – from animal rescue programmes to children’s TV.

I wanted to support one of the donkeys and decided to adopt Loppy, a 32-year-old mare who has what are believed to be the longest ears (around 45 cm) of any female donkey in the country. She came down from Scotland in 1996 and was bought at a livestock market and offered to the donkey sanctuary where she would have a good home. Loppy is an Andalusian donkey, which is in danger of becoming extinct. Loppy is one of the larger donkeys at 14.2 hands, but she is very gentle and friendly. You can read more about Loppy here.

You could sponsor a donkey at reception, but I chose to just do it myself online because I wanted to take my time and read through the individual stories.

I could complete the adoption process using my screenreader. The only slightly tricky thing was the payment types, because they were neither radio buttons nor check boxes, so a blind user can’t be sure which payment method had been selected because there was no feedback apart from the fact that it was highlighted visually. But I chose the one I wanted and hoped for the best – and it worked!

I would recommend this as a place to visit for anyone who loves animals or who wants to learn a bit more about donkeys.

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Blogmas 2018 – supporting the Donkey Sanctuary this December

I mentioned in my Blogmas is coming post that I would be talking about three charities throughout Blogmas, and the first one of these posts is today.

According to the Donkey sanctuary’s website, there are 50 million donkey around the world. The sanctuary works to improve the lives of donkeys worldwide, training vets, helping people to learn how to take better care of their donkeys, contributing to research, and also working to put an end to cruel treatment. The various sanctuaries around the UK also provide homes for the donkeys in their care.

I mentioned last time how you can adopt a donkey, but the adoption packs can also be given as Christmas presents to the animal-loving friend who would like to know that the money for their gift went to a good cause.

Alternatively, the donkey sanctuary has a range of gifts that can be bought either online, or from their shop in Sidmouth, Devon. I particularly like the donkey foal – one of the more expensive things on there, but there are gifts for all budgets, and things such as cards, bags, magnets, pictures, and sculptures.

For anyone who is in the Devon area and who wants to go along, there is a Carols by Candlelight service at the Sidmouth Centre on 14th December, from 3pm till 7pm. Entrance is free, and after some festive music in the yard, you’ll be able to go to the barn, where a 45-minute carol service will be held, surrounded by the donkeys! You may even hear them singing along! No booking necessary. Dogs on leads are welcome.

If you’d like to listen, but can’t be in the area, the sound on the barn webcam will be turned on – so listen out for those donkey brays if you decide to listen in! You can find out more about Carols by Candlelight here.

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – Lash Hero fibre extension mascara – I have never tried this. It’s a two-step mascara with a lash primer and then the mascara part with extension fibres. I’ll need to find some tactile way of marking which one you use first because by touch bot h ends feel the same unless you want to touch the wand, which I don’t! I have a couple open at the moment, but look forward to giving this a go once I’ve used up some of my others.

Glossybox – a Yankey candle in the scent berry trifle. I knew there was a candle in there, but I didn’t realise it was one of the little ones in a glass jar. This is a lovely addition to the calendar and will make the room smell festive (in general I think Christmas desserts smell better than they taste anyway!) So again, two good products today!

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.

Products 3-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

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It’s Donkey Week – what can you do to help a donkey?

Today I’d like to talk about donkeys! 8th May 2018 is the beginning of Donkey Week, which is a series of events run in the UK by the Donkey Sanctuary.

The closest I got to meeting donkeys was on the Isle of Wight. I went there with some friends, but it was around Christmas time, and the sanctuary was closed to the public. As we stood by the fence outside, some of the donkeys came up to the other side and started braying. I wasn’t close enough to give them a pat, but it was as if they still wanted to say hello to us!

I’ve been following the Donkey Sanctuary on Facebook for a while and received their emails. The sanctuary is involved in helping donkeys all over the world, so as well as looking after abandoned or neglected donkeys here, they also work on shaping legislation in other countries. If you aren’t able to help financially, there are still ways in which you can help such as public awareness, sharing informatoin on social media, or signing petitions if you agree with them to show that the petition is supported by members of the public.

According to the site’s website, there are over 50 million donkeys around the world. In other parts of the world, some are treated as part of the family,helping to bring water and firewood, but in other areas, their life isn’t as good and they are not treated well. The sanctuary works to change laws to stop cruel or bad practices, address cases in which they are being neglected, and improve the life of the donkey worldwide. This includes monitoring what’s happening to donkeys around the world, particularly when they are working in dangerous places such as brick kilns and building sites.
Donkey week gives people the chance to meet the Donkey Sanctuary donkeys, go on wildlife walks, attend talks, hang out witt, or groom the donkeys. Accommodation is provided by a range of hotels and guest houses that are part of the Donkey Week scheme, and 10% of your accommodation costs go back to the sanctuary and therefore to looking after the donkeys.

I’m not actually able to go to any of the events this time, but I did adopt Coco the retired donkey! There is also Bonnie, the inquisitiv donkey who likes to try and get a second turn at being groomed, Cisco the organiser donkey, who makes sure all his stable mates are doing what they should, Henry the visually impaired donkey, who is getting used to getting around relying on his ears, and Ripple, who puts his head on your shoulder to show affection. There arre also many others, so do check them out if you want to meet the rest of the donkey family!

If you go to the adopt a donkey part of the website, you will find pictures of all of the donkeys and some information about each donkey.

Sponsoring a donkey costs £36, or £3 a month. You can receive a welcome pack with pictures and postcards, or you can choose not to receive the pack so that there is no cost for it and the total amount goes to the donkeys. I wouldn’t be able to see the pictures, so I ticked the box to say that I didn’t need a pack.Coco is at the sanctuary in Devon, so if we ever make it down there, I might be able to meet him!

Have you ever been to a donkey sanctuary? Will you be doing anything for Donkey Week this year? Let me know in the comments!

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