Celebrating St Francis Day 2011 with the donkeys of Eseltjiesrus

Our adorable and very handsome Donkey!

At the start of October, we took a drive to the village of McGregor, which is the home of the Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary.

Having attended last year’s St Francis Day and Remembrance Ceremony at the sanctuary (which I wrote about here), we were really looking forward to this year’s event – and to seeing our beloved Donkey again.

Perhaps you remember our first visit to the sanctuary in July last year, when we adopted a long-eared, furry four-legged young donkey?

“Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary provides a permanent refuge for abused, neglected and elderly donkeys. Here they are given the opportunity to live out their lives with respect and dignity, surrounded by their own kind, in a protective and natural environment.

One of the ways you can help is to adopt a donkey for a year to help towards the costs of our work. You choose the amount you wish to give to your donkey.”  (http://www.donkeysanctuary.co.za/)

This open-air service to honour our beloved companion animals is simply amazing

It was a rather wet morning, as we drove through spitting rain all the way from Cape Town to Robertson. It only cleared up just outside McGregor. This was fortunate, as it would have been rather uncomfortable to sit outside in the wet – the ceremony was held outside, as there wasn’t nearly enough room inside the restaurant. Clearly, the weather gods – having seen how many people had arrived despite the wet weather to celebrate the glory of creation and to honour the memories of loved companion animals – intervened just in time.

Everyone took their seats on the chairs that had been set out in neat rows in front of the Eseltjiesrus Country Kitchen, run by Debbie and Jimmy. One after the other, people got up to read some wise words, or to say a prayer, or to inspire us in some gentle way.

Clearly, everyone who attended this event had been touched by the donkeys in some way, or had said goodbye to a much-loved companion animal, and it shone through in all their contributions to the ceremony.

We pause for a few moments at the memorial cairn - and some of us write down the names of beloved pets that have died

It was heartwarming, moving and so peaceful.

We even received a blessing from a cheerfully smiling Brother Richard, who strode around the audience, flicking sprinkles of water at everyone! The donkeys didn’t seem to mind all this hustle-and-bustle – I like to think that they knew it was their special day.

Once the service had ended, we all went for a long, gentle, meditative walk around the vineyards, taking the time to read the inspiring and thought-provoking words of wisdom mounted against fence posts and tree-trunks.

And afterwards, we were lucky to get a short guided tour with Robyn, who showed us around the donkeys and introduced us to the newcomers. She was amazing – she really seemed to know all the donkeys, not just their names, but their personalities and their personal histories and individual idiosyncrasies too!

Incidentally, adoption makes an ideal anniversary, birthday, special occasion or Christmas present.  Instead of buying more stuff for your loved ones for Christmas, why don’t you “gift” them a donkey instead?

And now, sit back, and enjoy the slideshow. 🙂

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14 thoughts on “Celebrating St Francis Day 2011 with the donkeys of Eseltjiesrus

  1. Reggie
    Are you still supporting Donkey? What a great idea. So, you got to see him again, and how is he doing? I have found donkey sanctuaries everywhere. It’s a wonderful thing. I’m so glad you got to visit and to adopt a donkey. 🙂 Sher

    • Hello Sher – yes, we think Donkey is the coolest! 😉 When we visited at the start of October, though, he was looking a little dejected, and didn’t seem keen to interact with anyone. So we respected that, and didn’t go and pester him. They are such characters, aren’t they?

  2. That is what I was wondering — how he was now in comparison to how he was when Donkey was so taken by your husband. Usually donkeys love people interaction, but these guys are there for a reason, so they might not like people as well- still it is too bad he didn’t come right over to be petted. He is a good looking animal.

    • I was a little disappointed, I confess, when he did not come over to say “HI!” like he usually does. But donkeys, like people, have their off days, and their quiet times, and it’s not as though he *knows* us – we don’t visit every week or every month. It was just nice to see him and to hear how they’re all doing.

  3. I think this is awesome! And “adopting” an animal in rescue for someone as a gift is always wonderful! I’ve done that for my daughter on a few occasions and sponsored animals in sanctuary “just because”.

    Enjoy your donkey! Hopefully next visit he’ll be interested in giving you some long-eared love.

    • “Some long-eared love”… awwww, that sounds like just what I need right now. I’m so glad you feel similarly about sponsoring sanctuary animals – it is such a worthwhile thing to do. Thank you for visiting and leaving a sweet footprint on my blog.

  4. Glad you were able to go and visit Donkey again. Now you are getting to know him with his quieter side. Next trip, who knows? He may run up to you with a wild bray, “HI REGGIE!”

      • Yes, it is my husband’s favourite poem, so I recognised the line immediately. Good choice!

        I take a LOT of photos, which is my way of ‘remembering’ things I have seen, people I have met, and places I have been, and of sharing that with others. However, in some ways, taking photos is also a way of ‘holding on’ to the past – which is why Richard frequently reminds me to ‘kiss the joy as it flies’, before quoting his favourite poem. 🙂

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