How do donks know it is a full moon?

We now have a full moon. Since every commentator on Rubi’s condition has said, ‘She is waiting for the next full moon,’ I spent all night awake in my tent listening for the sounds of a foal being delivered. It was a bit like the sleepless nights I remember at Christmas, as a child, when I lay awake expecting Santa Claus to come down the chimney but instead watched the less impressive spectacle of my father creeping into the bedroom with a sack.

At about 3.30 am, looking out of my tent at the bright moonlight, it occured to me that Rubi was in the stable and therefore might not have noticed it was a full moon. I put my shoes on, went into the stable and found Rubi munching straw as usual.

‘Come and look at the full moon!’ I said, and pushed her out of the stable. Once outside, she looked sulkily at me, pushed past me and returned to the stable to eat straw, without so much as a cursory glance at the lovely full moon. This is a donkey who clearly cannot be bothered to spend time looking at the moon and therefore will not necessarily have her foal to coincide with this astronomic phenomenon. Another theory goes down the drain. How long will she hang on to this foal?

What sign is Rubi looking for, then? She will perhaps wait for something more down to earth, like indigestion after eating too much straw.

Update, Monday 12th September
I slept indoors last night, as I really needed a good night’s sleep before Monday morning and a full day’s teaching, but at 4 am I was wide awake after a dream about donkeys in distress (!), so I put on my dressing gown and raced down to the donkeys. They were sitting close together, snoring in the last of the full moonlight coming from the southwest. Another night of full moon had passed without the expected foal.

At the end of the school day today, and after my lift home to Finestrat, I had to make a difficult decision. Cold beer in Finestrat or straight home to see if there is a foal? It was a tough decision. I went straight home. There is no foal yet…

Somehow, Rubi’s foal has become the pivot around which life turns at the present. One pupil in my new year 8 form probably spoke a great deal of truth when he said, ‘When the little donkey is born, you will be a very proud father.’


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. I am writing a comedy about a school in Benidorm. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette". If I had my time again I would not have spent the early 1970s working for Special Branch.
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3 Responses to How do donks know it is a full moon?

  1. karin says:

    Hey…if that works…so be it! Wishing you both well, and you Frere Rabbit…a good nights sleep!

  2. Julie Davies says:

    Marion Marples of the CSJ passed on your blog to me. We got our donkey Margarite from Barbara Reed and she had a foal called Rubi which Barbara kept. Do you think it could be a relation of our donk. We walked Margarite on the Vezelay route and took Margaite and Maisey (other donk) on the Le Puy route. Barbara helped resource our pack saddles (which cost more than the donks!!)
    I am the hospitalero co-ordinator for Gaucelmo so we might have met in the past.

  3. Frere Rabit says:

    Good to hear from you, Julie. I have stayed at the Gaucelmo various times and we may indeed have met. As for the donkeys, I’ll wait for Barbara to see your comment and reply regarding the other Rubi, but she definitely is not my Rubi! (You may well be thinking of Barbara’s donkey Rosie, the companion to Dalie. I’d be interested to know what she says.)

    Mine is Spanish and two years old. I think Barbara is still walking with Dalie at the moment but she looks in here regularly, so expect an answer eventually about the other Rubi.

    Yes, I am amazed at the cost of pack saddles. They do cost more than the donkey. I was blessed with the gift of Barbara’s old donkey tack and her original leather saddlebags on long-term loan. I recently looked at a French donkey supplies website and realised that the value of this equipment is in excess of my most expensive donkey!

    My Rubi is going to foal at any moment and I cannot sleep beyond 3 am now. I wake up long before my morning alarm and I am compelled to go straight to the stable and check on developments. Luckily it is still warm here in the Costa Blanca at 3 am so I can wander around outside in my pyjamas!

    Regards to Marion at CSJ when you speak to her again!

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