Yesterday was a sad day. Tabitha, Tawny, Bramble and I were privileged to be present at the funeral of a dear friend.
Bonni was a princess among dogs! She joined this yard before I did, nearly twelve years ago. She was born at the dog pound in Carmarthenshire and rehomed as a pup. Sadly, after three years, her adopter fell ill and she was discovered by an RSPCA Inspector in poor condition and after a short spell in care, she came to Cwmbern. Her carers gave all sorts of guarantees about her reliability. She didn’t chase cats or livestock – in fact, she was a paragon of virtue. And she didn’t shed hair. According to them.
For a Llanelli girl like Bonni, coming to live on a farm was like moving to Disneyland. There were so many things you could chase! Her breeding was Whippet cross Patterdale, and these mini lurchers are hard wired to chase and kill. Thankfully, her early years had not taught her a lot about killing, but her brain told her to chase it (if it moved). Cats, horses, cows – well, they all got used to her quite quickly. She meant no harm and they seemed to sense that. She loved her new surroundings, but had an independent streak, which caused much angst in the early years. Unless she had her daily walk, she would go searching for her own. Many a day was spent searching the parish for Bonni, who would arrive home with a look which said ‘Sorry, I forgot’.
Bonni had a knack of knowing what was needed. If someone was feeling blue, she would climb on their lap for a cuddle. When I first arrived, she was a frequent visitor to my stable. I was a poor thing and easily scared, so she didn’t chase me. She would wander into the stable, touch noses and have a sort through my straw bedding. She was just one of the many friends I made at Cwmbern. It wasn’t until I was fully recovered that we discovered a mutual love of a game of tag.
Running was her favourite thing and there are fields and beaches here which suited her down to the ground. When her lead was picked up off the side, she would smile, dance and sing a little song, anticipating the excitement to come. The more company she had on a walk the better, and she came to know the visitors who had ‘walk potential’. They tended to get a special greeting when they first arrived.
It’s quiet on the yard today and we all keep looking around for that little black shadow. Although she was one of the smallest of our company , she surely had the biggest heart.
We shall miss her.
We all need to escape sometimes. My particular sort of escaping is usually under her arm as she opens the gate. I tear off into the field with the long grass and I see how many greedy mouthfuls of grass I can stuff down me before she catches up with me again. I have been known to trot off up the farm lane, but if I’m honest, I don’t like being too far away from my friends, so I usually wander back myself. Escaping is OK, but I don’t want to be lost and lonely.
My friends Hannah and Chico fancied escaping – well Hannah fancied it and Chico got roped in as well. I don’t know whether she was after some greener grass, but Hannah’s idea was to walk right around Wales (a seriously long way). She trained up Chico on the way (hehehe) and he had some of his own ideas as well. Sarah and she and I met up with Hannah and escaped with her for the day. She had nearly finished her walk by then and she had some very diverting tales to tell. Chico is a cool guy who doesn’t say a lot, but he had got Hannah organised by the time they reached our patch – and by now they had another donkey called Flo, in tow. Well, I should say Flo had Chico in tow – seemed he had found the woman of his dreams…
You can read about our escape with Hannah earlier in this blog: https://hooveswho.com/2013/11/03/donkey-walking/ but I have some excellent news! Hannah has written the book!
Hannah made quite a number of discoveries on her journey and she shares them in a very honest and fearless way. Guess walking makes you brave, donkeys make you forget yourself and family make you proud.
Don’t take the word of a pony though – even if he has been immortalised in print. Go and buy a copy – you too can escape!
is my new favourite thing! On Friday, I set out in the rain to meet Hannah and Chico, he is the famous Seaside Donkey. Hannah and Chico, by the time I met them, had already walked 960 miles around the perimeter of Wales. They were now on the home stretch; I had never met a donkey, so I joined them for the day on their walk. They have used the coastal path where possible, but today, I needed to show them the bridleways, because the path has stiles.
First off, I brought them back to my place for a coffee stop and a rest – they had just climbed one of our famously steep hills from Tresaith to here.
After an hour, and lunch for the donks and me, we set off for Llangranog (I wore my poppy today, to remember all the brave horses who suffered in the name of freedom). DId I mention that Chico and Hannah had gained a donkey only the day before? They met Florence at a camp site and decided to take her back to Aberystwyth with them (she has never been there).
As long as we are off the road, Chico is allowed off the lead rein. He is an old hand at walking and would follow Hannah anywhere. Florence is new to this game – this was only her second day! While Hannah bothered with her, Chico was quite happy to follow me. Brainy guys, these donks.
On our way up the lane we passed Paula and Hari. I don’t think they had seen a donkey before either!
The rain continued, and Hannah was busy on her phone, sorting out her accommodation for the night. This is a great and simple freedom, just walking with donkeys and ending up somewhere different each evening.
Negotiating the steep Parish Road down to Penbryn was easy for me and the donkeys, but entailed a bit of swearing from others about the muddy bit. When we got to the beach car park, the Cartws Cafe was open and they treated the muddy ones to a drink. We said ‘Hi’ to a few fans and moved steadily on our way.
Next was the best bit. We found a path up the hill and through the trees!
Then Hannah said she wanted to lead me – she is not familiar with pony walking. I was pretty well behaved, all things considered. I like Hannah; she and I have a lot in common – we both have positive mental attitude.
We are both good walkers as well. Quite soon we were well ahead of her and the donkeys, but fortunately, they managed without us.
I think she was having a bit of a daydream actually. I could hear her rabbiting away to both donkeys, like she does. It’s a lovely gentle thing to do, is donkey walking.
Soon we reached the turning onto the lane to MaesyMorfa, where Hannah and the donkeys were going to stay the night. I set off for home, because it would soon be dark.
This was the furthest I had ever walked in my life and I had the best time! She always comes to see I am OK, late in the evening when we have had a day out. That night, she brought a carrot and she said she was proud of me. Well, I can understand that.