Today’s birthday girl, above. Below, Aitana’s first grooming in October 2011. Note her size in relation to mummy donk Matilde in the photo above and in the video two years ago.
Originally, I thought Aitana would grow to be bigger than Matilde, but so far – at two years old – she looks as if she will be smaller and I believe Aitana had the same father as Morris. Rubí and Matilde were covered at the same time, probably by a male who was about the size of Rubí, i.e. smaller than Matilde. At this stage, it is not expected that either Morris or Aitana will grow much bigger than they currently are.
In a comment below, GC asked for a “few more observations on Aitana” and I am glad to oblige.
Every morning I greet the donks before I feed them and I always have a pocketful of chopped carrots. While the others always compete to get in front and eat the carrots, Aitana stays back and will not eat any carrots until she has had her morning cuddle, and then she will eat carrots. As you can see in the video of Aitana’s first grooming, the foals were handled from the beginning and I was determined that they would learn to give up their hooves for inspection, unlike their mothers who always put up resistance.
Although both Morris and Aitana had equal attention, grooming, stroking, and generally being fussed over by their proud keeper, Morris is his own donk and doesn’t really keep still for very long if I make a fuss of him now. I have to be careful of him jerking his head suddenly, as he has caught me under the chin a couple of times. Aitana on the other hand is very calm and stands totally still: she almost goes into a trance when having a stroke and a cuddle. Unless disturbed by the arrival of another donk, she will stand quite still for a quarter of an hour with her head cradled in my arm while I stroke her ears. This can be quite calming therapy for me too, after a busy or stressful day in the classroom. Yesterday I had quite a stormy meeting with a challenging pupil and her parents, at the end of which they were shouting at each other and it was evident that my geography class was the least of the little darling’s problems. But as usual, they dump all that stuff on you as part of your day and leave you to de-stress yourself in whatever way you can. On arrival back at the donkey home I received my usual equine counselling: Aitana is the perfect de-stresser!
Like her mother Matilde, Aitana has quite large ears. Looking back through the blog photos of her she looks quite ridiculous sometimes, with her small foal body and great big ears. She uses them well. No matter how quietly I undo the catch on the glass doors to the balcony, she will be the first to look up from the field. A local man who has long experience of donkeys once said to me, “Burros will hear a whisper from the next village.”