sequia-arrasa-6The drought in the Alicante region of Spain is the most serious since records began in 1893 and threatens ruin for many local fruit growers. The almond crop is badly affected and if drought continues trees will begin to die at the roots. The growth of urban areas means that the water priority in a year without rain has been to keep serving the needs of urban domestic water users.  The vast increase in urban water use during the summer period when hotels are fully occupied will use up the remaining water stored in the Guadalest reservoir.

Amadorio reservoir near Vilajoiosa

Amadorio reservoir near Vilajoiosa

The other reservoir, the Amadorio, is already empty: the old road bridge from Orxeta to Vila is now clearly visible from the new road that passes around the banks of the man-made reservoir.

When the reservoir was full this old bridge was twenty metres under water.


I am fortunate that I still have a water supply for my small vegetable plot: the agricultural water for our little valley near Finestrat comes from the village waste water, so it is an endless supply, but only fit for the garden – not even for the donkeys to drink!  They drink from my domestic water which is delivered in a tanker lorry every two months (62 Euros a time) and the four donkeys probably consume about a quarter of my domestic water.


The onions, peppers, courgettes and aubergine escape the drought affecting our region

The onions, peppers, courgettes and aubergine escape the drought affecting our region

Drought or no drought, the donkeys are very particular about their water and they would never drink the poor water that comes into the garden through the open channel.  Their water buckets are topped up every morning and evening, but the water usually has to be changed and the buckets scrubbed out. If the water does not look absolutely clear, they will not drink it. All it needs is a few straws floating on the surface – dropped in by the donkeys themselves while drinking – and they will not touch the water!

The water channel

The water channel

At one time, as shown in an earlier blog post, it was the donkeys who did all the work of drawing up water from the wells, as they walked around in circles all day, turning the wheels of the norias. Now they life a very carefree life under parasols, eating and drinking, and I do all the donkey work to make this happen.

Matilde's life of luxury in the Costa Blanca

Matilde’s life of luxury in the Costa Blanca

Does anyone know why Matilde keeps jumping on Rubí ? I do worry that these two are going to have an accident one of these days: Matilde is a very big heavy animal!

Matilde jumping on Rubí

Matilde jumping on Rubí


Donkeys have been inside the stable all day, as it has been a day of continuous rain. The first rainy day since 2013! Thank God.

Damp donkeys in the evening light after the first day of rain since 2013! 31/5/14

Damp donkeys in the evening light after the first day of rain since 2013! 31/5/14


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself dividing my time mostly between looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca and preparing a legal case against the corrupt management of my monstrous last employer - the Elians group - for unfair dismissal. I like to hear the wind in the pine trees. I do not like struggling to get a duvet into a duvet cover. My musical tastes are extinct and I have mostly given up cycle racing.
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8 Responses to Drought

  1. Jim of Olym says:

    I hope that Matilde is not a lesbian donkey! Perhaps you should get her exorsized…..
    Jim of Olym
    PS seems like there is a worldwide drought through the temperate regions, Spain, California, etc.
    We are fortunate we have a well with sweet water.

  2. Frere Rabit says:

    Matilde and Rubí are very close. Before I moved them here from the place where I bought them in 2010, I had them stabled together so they would becomefriends ready for moving together to a new home. If any of the donkeys (mothers or offspring) are separated from the rest, even to go for a half hour walk, the resultant panic and hysterical braying is quite remarkable. These four donks are very closely bonded together. Matilde jumping on Rubí is something else, and it is becoming a worrying development. I cannot take them out for a walk together because we end up in a circus game. It did not used to be like that!

  3. I don’t know much about donks, Rabit, but in dogs “humping” is a dominance behaviour. When I got my first dog (female) she used to try humping other dogs in the park. I was a bit bemused and asked other dog owners and they said it is a dominance thing….a lone female will consider herself leader of the pack. Humping other dogs is telling them to submit. Later I got another dog (male) and he has taken over as leader of the pack and forced the female into submission and now she knows her place she doesn’t usually hump any more. Dunno if that helps.

  4. Geert says:

    Jumping: Many years ago when approaching a dairy farm in a grassy enclave in a remote dense wood I saw one cow jump the other. I memorized what the standing one looked like and told the farmer, who immediately phoned the vet to have her inseminated. He hadn’t yet seen that she was ready, his wife treated me on a huge pancake and we became friends forever!

  5. Frere Rabit says:

    Geert, many thanks for your comment. I believe from earlier correspondence that you went to agricultural college in your youth, is that right? Is that where you were in the incident cited here? Well, we don’t want any donks inseminated here! Four is enough.

  6. Frere Rabit says:

    That probably makes a lot of sense. When I got home from work today, Rubí had grey hairs all over her back, showing Matilde has been up to her jumping games today again. My concern is that Rubí has a weaker frame and Matilde might put too much pressure on her and cause an injury.

  7. Geert says:

    tried to post a reply but perhaps it was too long. do I have your mail address?

  8. Frere Rabit says:

    I’ll send you an email.

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