It was only two days ago that I was sitting outside the Bar Cantonet in the early evening having a beer with a friend and commenting on the continuing warm weather. Overnight the snow came down on Puig Campana and the high Aitana ridge to the west. Suddenly we are plunged into winter.
The donkeys are looking wet and forlorn this morning, having stood out in freezing rain in the night. It is always a mystery to me why these animals who do not like water – and who have a perfectly servicable stable that can accommodate all of them – choose to stand in the rain or under the fig tree which eventually lets the rain through! They can look as forlorn as they want, but I’m going to stay indoors and have a relaxing day doing school work (?) to catch up with things after last weekend’s panic with Matilde. Her wounded nose is healing up nicely, and since yesterday I don’t have to give any more twice-daily antibiotic injections, thank goodness. It is very disruptive when you have to hurt an animal and it leads to a loss of trust. She runs off when she sees me at the moment! Here is her sewn up nose in close up – still with stitches in – but hardly visible now. I got the bill from the vet yesterday and was relieved to find it was a very reasonable 134 Euros: for an emergency call-out on a Sunday, with an assistant, and an hour’s work, plus the various medications. Excellent veterinary service. I think Alicia takes pity on me because I am overwhelmed with a herd of donks!
I extended the stable in the summer and integrated the feeding manger into the end, so the donkeys could feed from inside or out. The stable provides shade in summer and the open end keeps it well-aired. But the plan is to close in the end during the winter to keep out the cold winds from those wintry mountains mentioned above. Once the end is closed in, the donkeys can feed from the manger on the inside of the stable. I have just found a dismantled wardrobe at the rubbish dump and it will provide all the wooden panelling I need to fill in the end of the stable, enclosing the manger.
The food lorry came with the delivery from Nutrivila on Thursday, so just in time for the extra feed that the donks will get through in colder weather. I now buy enough food in bulk to last for five or six weeks, and the storage area was fenced off and gated in the summer holidays in preparation for this new routine. I tied the big plastic sheet down, over the bales of straw, forage and alfalfa, just in time for the change in the weather. A fierce wind preceded the change in temperatures, with turbulent conditions caused by competing weather fronts early yesterday morning.
So, with one last glance up at the snow-capped Puig Campana, I have taken off my muddy wellington boots and settled down indoors with a wood fire and intend to have a leisurely fried breakfast. Winter has arrived on the Costa Blanca.
Postscript Monday 18th November
Matilde’s behaviour – as a consequence of the course of injections – has become even more noticeable. The last injection was on Friday and I have been trying to regain Matilde’s trust. On Saturday I had to chase her all around the field before she would let me put the head collar on her, but I finally managed to catch her and simply gave her a long leisurely grooming with curry comb andthe hard and soft brushes. I thought that would be a good way to show that there were no injections to come: a half hour of my attention without a hypodermic syringe! However, this morning she was worse than ever and ran off when offered her usual carrots. She would not feed at the manger with the others until I had retreated to a safe distance. She is very nervous. That’s the last time I will give injections to my donkeys: I need to get someone else to do it next time.