You can all share my adventures as I move to the countryside where I now live with my adopted family at their home and refuge known as “Jarjeer” in the village of Oumnass, Marrakech.
You can all share my adventures as I move to the countryside where I now live with my adopted family at their home and refuge known as “Jarjeer” in the village of Oumnass, Marrakech.
Yesterday was the 1 December 2017 and all our muslim friends and colleagues were celebrating the birthday of the prophet Mohammed. All the humans who look after us are muslims except Susan and Charles and three of the men who care for us are called Mohammed so we knew that yesterday was a very special day.
All the donkeys were surprised to realise that on this special day the humans seemed to be very sad and then we learned that little Twinkle had died at 2 o’clock in the morning. Down in the paddocks we knew about Twinkle because when she was born Susan bought her down to see the men and then she disappeared for seemed like weeks. We were told that Susan was feeding little Twinkle round the clock and the men had to cover the work in the stables that she usually did.
So when we discovered that everyone was so upset when Twinkle died at 6 weeks old and that grown men were in tears we asked Susan and Charles “why?”. This is what they said. Twinkle’s mother was very old and sick and had her baby at Jarjeer before running away. The little one was so tiny and vulnerable that they had no alternative but to nurse her round the clock. She did very well but then had to spend a week at the vets where they learned that she had autoimmune disease and would have had health problems for the whole of her life. Even so everyone at Jarjeer did all they could and were devastated when she lost her fight for life. Twinkle fought to the end and was walking just half an hour before she died. She was also nuzzling Susan’s cheek as she passed away!
The response from facebook friends was extraordinary in that such a tiny little creature could invoke such emotion. She was no more than the size of one of our hooves! Why could we not save her and what did she bring in her short life. Twinkle triggered the spirit of love and caring in everyone she met and she made all the humans think about what really mattered in life. A community of care and compassion. Twinkle bought something very special to Jarjeer that none of us will ever forget. The tree she is buried under will be a daily reminder of how important it is to do the right thing however and where ever we are. We live in a world full of suffering and whilst here at Jarjeer we can’t, for example, save every tormented donkey we can continue to spread the message of compassion and the grief felt at Twinkle’s death is the same grief that we should all feel at the cruel loss of every child, vulnerable person, adult and animal that suffers at the hands of mans inhumanity!
Today I just decided to confront Susan about the state of my blog! She knows I can’t manage the computer without her and my position as leader of the herd is being sabotaged by daily postings on Facebook.
She explained to me that we don’t spend any money on administration or publicity work, “thank goodness shouted Alan or we would never get fed”. “Shut up” I shouted back “you’re not the only donkey in the paddock and we have a refuge to run”. Susan went on to explain to us that now we have 54 equine mouths to feed and 20 dogs she doesn’t have much spare time for administration, facebook is quicker to post and she doesn’t have to take dictation from me. “Pesky dogs” I muttered under my breath “nothing but trouble”. OMG she heard me and yelled that they still had to be fed. OK better approach her with a little more caution if I am ever to get this blog to press.
Mohammed came along and pulled those of us in the big paddock together. He reminded us that we had to be patient as the Refuge has grown so much lately with lots of donkeys and mules in real need. Because we now have more paddocks I really miss my friend Emily who went to the nursery paddock to have a baby. Her friend Jenny went with her but I had to stay here with the main herd – damn!!I asked Mohammed and Omar why we were so successful as a rescue place and he explained it very clearly. I shouted across to the nursery paddock to Emily “Do you know what Em, when those human come round three times a day with shovels it means we are a top class charity!” I heard about her mumbling to the other females that I was on one again but what do I care, Mohammed has a point. So I say to any one donating or contributing to an animal charity in the future please remember Mohammed’s points
AND FINALLY ARE THE ANIMALS HAPPY AND CONTENT? Apparently Susan and Mohammed say that these simple checks are very important as there is no regulation of animal shelters in Morocco. If money is given to failing shelters it doesn't help in the long term because the rescues continue to be held in dirty unhealthy conditions and are likely to catch and spread disease. I was born at SPANA which is spotless with vets on site. Rock on SPANA! We regularly welcome vets from SPANA who keep us on our toes.
AT JARJEER THE HUMANS NEVER STOP CLEANING!
This week Susan had an upsetting message from a tourist who had returned home but was distressed about the state of a mule used for collecting rubbish near to where she was staying in the Medina. We set about a rescue but the old girl died before she could come to Jarjeer.
Whilst yesterday was depressing with the news of this sad death, we have to analyse the situation. The reason the mule died was that she was slowly starving to death. These old mules working on iron berber bits (because they are cheap) lose their teeth and cannot masticate food. The old ones that come to Jarjeer suffer in the same way and we keep them alive long enough to enjoy their retirement by feeding specially prepared food that is ground to a soft consistency. As this is being written our men are out in the field having just bought a hectare of fassia which they will harvest and bring back to the refuge. For the old ones we have to grind it to a pulp to get some protein into their system.
So why don’t we euthanise at this stage? Simple, these animals have worked all their lives and this is our thank you from humankind by offering them a little peace, affection and freedom from fear before they pass on. And speaking of a thank you we must thank Riad Fanartchi who in turn are thanking the working donkeys by providing two troughs. One for water and a second to leave peelings and orange waste, much needed and appreciated by working animals. If other Riads want to do the same please get in touch.
Jarjeer is doing their bit to encourage tourism to Marrakech and are aware of a new breed of ethical tourists who deplore animal neglect. We currently have several queries a day either for recommendations for tours etc or to express distress having stayed in the Medina. If you would like to become a “Friend of Jarjeer” please let me know.
We appreciate the support given by James Wix at Fanartchi and I know that is welcomed by many visitors to the Medina.
Time to update everyone about my growing herd and the comings and goings of such a large community. Susan emphasises all the time that it is a community not just a random collection of animals. A community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. Once us donkeys got our heads round that we understood what she means. All the humans here are committed to giving us the best life possible, all our visitors are thrilled to meet us as we are them and the local village identifies and seems to be proud of Jarjeer. Wow, what progress just like a large tree growing out of the barren earth.
We then had a chat amongst ourselves about the trees around us and how they alter with the seasons. Leaves drop and again the herd remembered our beloved Byed. Susan rescued her just after I arrived as that naughty out of control adolescent and she knocked me into shape – no nonsense whilst Byed was around. She was elderly and becoming increasingly blind. She spent 5 years with us and during that time she never put a hoof wrong. She was kind, tolerant and loved giving rides to children.
Recently she fell whilst feeding and damaged her hip beyond repair. After days of trying to save her the decision was taken by the humans that the end had come and we all watched her taken gently to our memorial garden where she was laid to rest with the others who have left us!
But Byed will live on. She was pregnant when she joined me at Jarjeer and her foal Sultana who is now nearly 5 is still in the herd!
The other tragedy to hit us was the wonderful little Cynthia. She had been bought to Jarjeer late one night having been the victim of abuse and had lost her right ear. She was in a dreadful state and rushed to the SPANA hospital In Marrakech where she received the finest care. After four weeks, during which time the awful wound to her head had almost healed over, she came home to Jarjeer but prolapsed 3 days later and had to be rushed back to SPANA where she died in her sleep. Everyone was so heartbroken that the humans still cant bear to talk about it.
It was dreadful for the caring Moroccans who bought Cynthia to us but they have become friends to us all, visited us recently and bought us 4 bags of food. He Haw we all shouted, Thank you!
On a much happier note and with great excitement we can tell you that Frankie Dettori has agreed to become our Patron. “Who on earth is that” shrieked Emily, the fattest donkey in the paddock. We all groaned together and told her that he was the world’s most famous jockey who rode amazing horses who were a lot slimmer than her. Seriously, it is a great honour as Frankie is respected across the globe. We have a lot of Italian friends so were really pleased to have an Italian Patron.
So when a little tiny foal was abandoned in a nearby village, Mohamed ran out to rescue him and I suggested we called him Frankie.
And life goes on. Susan and Mohamed have just returned from market where they ordered a large lorry load of hay, the sun is shining, and the oldies are all enjoying a roll in the sand. From all the herd, have a very happy day and spare us a thought here at Jarjeer from time to time.
A lot of people have been in touch with me complaining that I am not blogging any more. Please don’t blame me but the whole fault lies with those pesky humans who have fingers so that they can type. The sooner a computer is made that will allow us with hooves access to a keyboard the better and I can blog to my hearts content.
To be fair to those humans it is right to say that they have all been very busy lately – all I hear is “we’ve got got to get those stables finished” or “when is the roof going on my new office” etc etc.
Listen, we only have 8 humans and us 36 donkeys and mules all have to be fed, groomed and watered before any building work, olive tree maintenance or gardening can be done; not a job for the faint hearted I fear.
I have also been recovering from a huge shock. One day just before Christmas I heard a big commotion. We donkeys all rushed to the back of the paddock to see Ayoub riding up our path on a horse! Yes, thats right, I said a horse! “Oh my weary hooves I shouted to Emily, what is that and what is it doing in our refuge?” I was about to shout OMG but I remembered Susan warning me about religious sensitivities so we are all having to watch our language.
How true we all agreed!
So here I am learning tolerance towards a horse whom I discover is to live at Jarjeer. Where are all the humans I said to myself? Yes, you got it in one, making a fuss of the pesky horse. Charles has called him Rufus. He gets to spend all day in the olive groves and he is waiting for a new stable to be finished so that he can have special accommodation. “Oh no Tommy, you got that wrong” said Byed our elderly donkey. “I heard the humans agreeing that it would be good for you and Rufus if you shared your own stable and paddock. So there we have it, I am being promoted to become a friend and companion to our new horse Rufus. I always knew that I was special and now my status has been confirmed even though I told the rest of the herd that I will still be keeping a very close eye on them all.
Well I’ve done it. Google has accepted me for online advertising. The humans seem to love the idea. Hopefully it will help keep the food barn full!
p.s. Ive been told not to put a hoof anywhere near the adverts, it is forbidden for the website owner to do it! So we will concentrate on making a better life for equines in Morocco!
29 August 2016
Emily, one of our older donkeys at the Refuge, asked me why I’m not blogging any more. All the girls hew hawed in support and said that it was outrageous that I didn’t use my writing talents to best advantage. I agreed but I put it down to that pesky human, Susan, who introduced me to Facebook and it is so much easier to post a short comment and a photo each day. “BUT where does that get us” said Byed our older white donkey. “Lots of likes and what good are those to us”. I agreed and told them all that was why I handed the Facebook content back to the humans because a lot of ‘friends’ didn’t even understand I was a donkey, someone thought they were talking to Susan’s husband. “Heaven help our hooves” screamed young Jerry “what is the paddock coming to!”
Which brings me on to life in the paddock and another reason that I have not been blogging, I’ve just been too busy. I now have 7 mules, and can’t those mules eat, and 28 donkeys with another booked to come in this week. I have to be on hand to oversee building work and help my new favourite human, Touffik, with feeding three times a day.
“Yipes, whats that” shouted one of the mules as Susan came running across the paddock to consult with us. Maybe consult is overgenerous because all she could do is shriek at me “Tommy, get writing, there’s money in this blogging lark”. We all stood stunned, what is she on about now. Charles strolled past and muttered something about it being another hair brained idea. But then I got to thinking, the humans hate having to rely on donations to feed us; they think it is like begging and there are far too may worthy causes in the world that they don’t want to compete with. Mind you, my amazing supporters, don’t give up donating just yet!
The humans started rattling on about the plight of overworked animals being the result of greed and poverty in the world, Susan even mentioned the word ‘Capitalism’. “Now don’t go there” said Charles “you promised to keep politics out of this”. So she calmed down, Charles told us that she was mellowing in old age! But not to be beaten she then explained that there was nothing unethical about trying to get a bit of advertising on my blog if it helps the food bill. “OK….” I said and reconciled myself to honing my writing skills and giving it a whirl.
31 March 2016
Hello, its me Tommy the donkey writing a very exciting post!
This has been a wonderful year for us all at Jarjeer, we have grown beyond recognition and in turn are being recognised for all the positive work that is being done with my ever growing herd. Susan and Charles knew, when they agreed the project with me, that they would have to make a considerable contribution to ensure that no animal suffers whilst in their care. Since I arrived in late 2011, they have funded the staff to look after us and our food. Today, between them, they give £4500 of their own money each month so that we can have the finest care. Charles complains that he never has a holiday anymore and can’t even afford new underwear! We tell him to stop complaining, who would want to go and leave us? Susan says it is important that people should know that such a project requires planning, investment and a business plan – a good heart is not enough.
We are all more than grateful for donations that have been made and would like to mention, in particular, Lynda Lyons who has run two marathons for us all. There are some very special people who have donated large sums that have allowed further building to take place. And then there is everyone who has set up a monthly payment, you all make life so much easier for us and it has meant that Susan has never had to turn a donkey or a mule away.
The humans explained to us that it is written into their constitution that Susan and Charles will never take a penny or a dirham from charitable donations so everyone knows that any contribution goes directly to our care and not huge staffing costs. we always explain to visitors that we would not be so happy and sociable if it were not for the men who work with us but their wages are small compared to the UK!
As a thank you to those of you that have helped us we have been putting the names of all donors from the UK and Europe into a large tin and on the last day of April we will have a draw – the prize will be a week with flights paid, by a generous benefactor, to stay at the humans’ villa here at the refuge.
ANY DONATIONS DURING APRIL WILL ALSO BE ENTERED INTO THE DRAW SO WATCH THIS SPACE FOR THE AMAZING PRIZE!
Boris Here! Tommy is so busy at the moment that someone suggested I take over the blog for a while so he can get on with supervising the new building work. “Can I be your deputy” I asked. “Absolutely NOT” snapped back Tommy “I am the leader of the herd because I was here first and I am very famous, I was named after the British Ambassador’s son remember! Susan insists we try very hard to have equality across the board so the oldest female must be my deputy, that’s right isn’t it Byed? Tommy said looking across to our ageing white donkey. She sighed patiently and muttered “boys will be boys.”
So here I am no more than a journalist’s stand in. But folk are quite right, I do have time on my hooves now that I can no longer escape into the garden and stuff myself silly on every scrap of herbage I can find. I did hear the vet telling Susan that I needed to lose weight but then what does he know?
Talking of weight, we were all shocked to see the arrival of an old grey donkey today that we have called Picasso. His poor old legs are so frail and damaged that he can hardly carry his own weight. The men put him into a hospital stable on some warm foam and are slowly cutting out brambles and burs that were matted into his coat. He needs some time to recover and our friend Paula is advising Susan on his feeding. Picasso is being given some of the olive oil from Jarjeer to help clean his system. Charles masterminded the planting of 750 olive saplings and this year we have had a wonderful crop now milled into olive oil. Emily and Tanermirt the mule helped by carrying our special manure to each tree during the autumn months. No wonder it tastes so good!
We have had lots of visitors this week including our friend Anna and Mike from the UK. Mike bought some Moringa tree seeds over which are being soaked and planted in pots by Mohamed. Paula Da Silva is very keen that we grow Moringa trees as they are excellent for donkeys and have great medicinal properties. We are told that Moringa Oleifera is nature’s most nutritious vegetable tree. It is one of nature’s best kept secrets. The leaves of this tree contain almost all the nutrients required for perfect health. It is one of the few plants on earth that contain all the essential amino acids required for human protein synthesis so we could share it with our humans in the village. One of nature’s richest sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it is the perfect food for vegetarians. Susan has tried everywhere locally to buy the trees but people say they have them and when she arrives at the garden centre, they just don’t exist and they try to sell her roses! So not to be beaten we are going to try and grow them from seed – watch this space. It would be really good to hear from anyone who knows anything about these trees!
Have to rush off now, lots to do and we all have to clean the paddock up as we have some important visitors from the ‘National Geographic Society’ on Wednesday next. I dare say the humans will tell us what that is all about in due course? In the meantime I spotted our friend Ed on the human’s terrace pouring out this bubbly stuff. “Ah” said Emily “that means they are celebrating something, may be a birthday but all I know is that they drink it and then behave very strangely. I suppose they are entitled to a little strange behaviour of their own so long as they keep feeding us and don’t forget to scrub out the stables!” Ed and Susan shouted that we should stop gossiping and enjoy our carrots, the bubbly was a gift and not to worry it didn’t come out of the carrot fund!
15 February 2016
Pablo died this morning at 8.00am. The herd became very quiet and Emily said “Oh no! not again”. Susan asked me to explain to all the young ones in the herd that we are not just a refuge but also a hospice and it is our duty to give all the old ones the chance to die with dignity.
Pablo was seen abandoned and in a bad way and taken to SPANA. we offered to have him as SPANA has no facilities to keep old animals. Here is is when he arrived and you can see how malnourished he was.
“But we all loved Pablo” said young Sultana, a baby donkey born here at Jarjeer. Everyone loved Pablo. He never complained, was always calm and gentle. He came to us after a lifetime of pulling a cart in the Medina. We could tell he pulled a cart because when Susan would take him to the top field for some herbs he used to trot in a very different way and Charles pointed out one day that was the way the donkeys trot along in traffic in the City when they are pulling a heavy load! He was always frail but enjoyed his life at Jarjeer, his health improved and he loved being with the rest of us donkeys.
Pablo never had to pull a cart here! He loved to lie in the sun and he always greeted visitors like long lost friends. He was always willing to dress as a reindeer at Christmas time, he spent three Christmases with us.
When he lay down in the hospital stable and we knew his time was near, all the men who look after us took it in turns to sit with him. They made sure he was comfortable and warm and they moved him regularly so as not to get sores. Susan wiped his mouth with a little water but he didn’t want to drink.
Emily and Byed, our experienced female donkeys, who had both worked in a Berber village commented that donkeys out in the City and the countryside don’t get this treatment when it is time to die and then Susan told us all something very important. Humans live in tribes and they develop their own tribal behaviour. If those humans around them never show emotion to an animal, then the young people don’t either. Here at Jarjeer, the staff are given permission to care, they copy Susan and Charles and their grandson Mark! We noticed when one of the men left last night he actually bent down and kissed Pablo! I have never seen that happen before!
We then understood that people who can show such compassion will show the same compassion to all vulnerable living things and that is what is needed today. All our human friends need to show compassion to the old and needy and in this day and age to the people fleeing war zones and all those who suffer at the hands of bigots and terrorists.
It has rained today, Hamdullah, we need the rain for our crops and our herbs. Pablo hated the rain so he knew the best time to leave us and the sun came out for his burial. Here he is being laid to rest on our land with the ever caring Poppet on hand. We will miss you Pablo but you taught us so much.
Two days ago we said goodbye to Gus, all my herd knew and were very quiet all day. We saw humans in tears and Mohamed had to stay in the village, it was too much to bear!
Gus came to us 6 months ago from SPANA when he was 27 years old. His owner had taken him to SPANA because he had started to fall over and he wanted the vets to ‘cure’ him so he could return to work. Dr Boubker persuaded the owner to let Susan bring him to Jarjeer and what a grumpy bad tempered old man arrived. When Susan tried to put a coat on him he would bite her. Us donkeys had to explain that he was terrified that she was going to harness him for work!
Gradually we all got to know Gus and he got to know us. He was named after Augustus which was suggested by our friend Anna Walker and meant “Respect”. Gus had never had any respect before. His back was injured from pulling cement trucks and he had a broken jaw and had lost an eye. Susan spent hours with him and eventually he would come into the paddock and watch all the young donkeys play. He could not walk in a straight line because of his back injury but he started to follow the humans around and would bury his nose into their side.
His teeth were damaged from years of wearing a traditional bit but the humans used to make him a pudding of soft bran, rice and chopped vegetable. Charles came every day to give him an apple which he loved. Eventually he became too weak to stand up on his own and as the men hauled him up it was clear that he was becoming injured even with his special padded clothes. All the humans met together and it was decided that Dr Boubker should come and let him slip away peacefully. Susan and Mohamed Simon took him for a last walk and he enjoyed munching the herbs in the sun.
We will never forget Gus but we all saw Charles in a way that we had never seen him before. He became very angry and upset about the way the mules in the City are treated and started to encourage Susan to develop the Casablanca project.
I had to explain to the donkeys what that would mean. At last the local authority in Casablanca has agreed to lawfully confiscate mules. We hope that gradually they will disappear from the traffic congested City centre. They will come to us, be rehabilitated and offered for adoption to families who need a working mule in the countryside but they will be inspected regularly. It is a little know fact abroad that poor families have to buy mules and end up having to buy them on credit! That often leaves little money left to feed them and the whole cycle continues. Susan and Charles hope that if a precedent is set in Casablanca it may soon be possible to confiscate abused mules in Marrakech. Combined with providing training and encouragement it is a win win situation. Animal suffering is relived, free training is provided and poor household get help to keep the animals their livelihood depends on.
Susan is available to speak to any group or organisation about the plight of the mules/donkeys in Morocco. She can travel easily to the UK and is happy to visit the States during the coming year.
When I was looking at my strange mixture of mules and donkeys today I gave a thought to where they had come from. Emily and Byed who both came from the countryside got together and did a quick resume of our latest arrivals.
Clover has half an hoof and was being worked in Tangier until Sally from the Sanctuaire de la Faune could take no more and bought Clover so that her owners could buy a new donkey. “So why do they need donkeys in the City” said Emily. “To work, WORK” I said, “my mother died of hard work and died which is why I was born by cesarean section” I think that all Riad owners and tourists who stay in the beautiful Riads in Marrakech should remember that they would not have a business or such a wonderful holiday without us donkeys. We are needed to go down the tiny derbs (streets) where mechanical vehicle cannot go.
Look at old Pablo, left for dead after a lifetime of work in the Medina, without Jarjeer he would have been on a rubbish heap two years ago. Yes, that is where the dead donkeys go! Here, our men work hard to dig graves and they are buried with dignity.
And, our newest addition, Norman, whose mother died because her family could not afford to feed her!
Lucky rescued from a building site where he was left tethered and to die because he could no longer eat, having lost his teeth after years of being worked on a traditional bit!
Salvo, whose back hooves were deformed by being worked too young.
Not to mention Gus who remains very weak and old here at Jarjeer. he lost an eye and a fractured jaw in the City. His back is deformed from years of pulling a truck so he can’t even walk in a straight line.
We are not your bunch of fluffy pretty donkeys that make everyone go “Ahhh!”, we are the product of mans abuse of the kindest gentlest animals on earth. The herd are getting cross, not because of our humans who tell us that it costs £2000 a month to keep us but because of Linda Lyons our friend and lifelong supporter. Last year Linda ran the Marrakech marathon and raised a £1000 which kick started the new build of extra stables. Without those stables we could not have taken this years rescues!
Linda has a Riad and she knows how much she has depended on working donkeys. This year she is running again because she knows that we plan to expand and assist with the rehabilitation and rehoming of mules confiscated by local authorities. We were shocked to find that only 5 people have donated and she is running on the 31 January. We are asking not for ourselves alone but for Linda who has tirelessly worked on our behalf. Please click on the link below:-
We all know that money is tight at the moment but even a gesture of a £1 would mean so much to us and to Linda’s moral. Come on everyone, show that you care! We have worked hard on your behalf, help us working animals enjoy a retirement!
11 December 2015
“Susan’s back” I shouted to the men…”look busy!” And there she was back from England with shiny new bowls for us and a huge new ‘pooper scooper’ to add to the existing three used three times a day to keep our paddock clean. As she set to with all the humans to deal with our ablutions before breakfast I heard her exclaim “who’s that?” We all went very quiet whilst I heard Mohammed mumble that it was a baby donkey whose mother had died in a neighbouring village. Poor little soul was very nervous and still trying to find his place in the herd. Susan grumbled and moaned a bit so I took the opportunity to take her on one side and review the current situation.
This month we have had 6 new arrivals, 6 more mouths to feed and a growing manure heap for the working donkeys to spread on the garden. Two donkeys from Tangier (as if we don’t have enough in Marrakech I say). Leo was the first to arrive from Tangier and what a noisy little monster he is. However, that was soon sorted and he is currently in the SPANA hospital being gelded – ouch!
Then Clover arrived and what a little sweetie she is. Clover lost half a front hoof and spends her days limping round with us but at least she is saved from crippling work carrying water vats for her last owner.
Mohamed bought Salvo to us from a neighbouring village having been found abandoned with deformed back hooves. Dr Boubker at SPANA performed a miracle and Salvo is as good as new. He told me that he is delighted to be able to walk properly but that gelding thing was a bit uncomfortable. “Ah well” I said “the humans insist it is the only was us males can live happily together but it’s a rum do if you ask me!”
And then soon after Salvo arrived, a young donkey with an injured knee joint was found abandoned near the Capaldi Hotel so Mohamed called him ‘Ed‘ after Edward, our good friend who owns the Hotel. Ed the donkey is still at SPANA being treated.
Our final two this month are mules. “Mules” I said to my trusty companions Emily and Byed ” Susan never stops going on about her mules, it does wear me down sometimes.”
Nontheless we all agreed that the Kasbah Mule ‘Tanemirt” is a beautiful girl. Mike McHugo at Kasbah Toubkhal agreed that Tanemirt should be retired early at the age of 20 before arthritis sets in.It is much warmer here in Marrakech and she can enjoy her days basking in the sun. Or thats what she thought until young Mohamed put a saddle on her and told her that she had to do 2 hours garden duty each day.
Even us chirpy happy donkeys shed a tear or two when Lucky the mule came to us last week. Susan had spent 4 days negotiating a price to take him from the hell of a building site where he was tethered and unable to work. His teeth were worn away with a tradition bit and he could no longer get any nourishment from his hay. He was literally starving to death. His owner thought he would die and then he would be sold for animal food. However, a £100 secured his fate and the sad starving mule came to Jarjeer. Susan has told me to tell you that he is the most gentle gracious creature who is recovering well from several injuries. with the help of a friend and colleague in Italy we have devised a diet for these old mules and donkeys. When an animal gets old here in Morocco they are just left to die so there is no where that sells proprietary food stuff for elderly animals. But I think our recipe goes down a treat even though us healthy donkeys never get a sniff. Back off the humans shout, you will get too fat – so we have to stand and watch the oldies tuck in to steaming bran, rice and chopped vegetables.
An update on the baby donkey! two lovely visitors from Tonbridge in England came to see us on Tuesday and called him ‘Norman’. Welcome Norman!!
11 November 2015
The remembrance poppy has been used since 1921 to commemorate soldiers who have died in war. Inspired by the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields” by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, they were first used by the American Legion to commemorate American soldiers who died in that war (1914–1918). They were then adopted by military veterans’ groups in parts of the former British Empire: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Today, they are mainly used in the UK , New Zealand, Australia and Canada to commemorate their servicemen and women who have been killed in all conflicts since 1914.
Today is Armistice Day. Armistice Day is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. While this official date to mark the end of the war reflects the ceasefire on the Western Front, hostilities continued in other regions, especially across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the old Ottoman Empire.
As we look at our old mules here at Jarjeer, broken by a lifetime of work, we remember all the horses, mules and donkeys who played a crucial role in the war effort and perished alongside fighting soldiers.
A timely reminder in this modern world of the innate link between humans and animals and whilst we mourn all who lost their lives and those who continue to fight for freedom in all parts of the world today, we donkeys and mules ask you to value our changing roles in the world today whether it be agricultural wok, equine therapy or pleasure for children. You honour the dead who gave their lives for us all if you respect all life even the humble donkey
Thank you from Tommy and the herd.
6 November 2015
Because our Facebook page is a non profit organisation, Susan had to prove that we were a registered charity and regulated. If it had just been a community page there are no such controls but the writers of such a page have no ability to raise funds and are not supposed to advertise etc. Although knowing humans I bet they break the rules but here at Jarjeer I am firmly in charge and no such abuses are tolerated. However, all sorted now and they have let me have my name back on Facebook.
So where to begin? I said to Emily and Byed that we should really thank Susan for keeping facebook going, just lets pander to her a little even though she was pretty hopeless. “Not as hopeless as Charles would have been” retorted Emily and all the donkeys had to agree. So I’ve just told Susan to pop off and pour herself a gin and tonic whilst I get the old keyboard spinning again.
GUS, I must tell you about Gus. Everything here is Gus,Gus and more Gus just because he is old and pretty worn out. This morning there was a panic because he sneezed, would you believe it? The old boy can’t even sneeze now. “Order some antibiotics” shouted Mohamed but Susan suggested we try to up his protein intake first. I heard the humans arguing as to whether he should wear a coat at night or not. Mohamed thinks the change in body temperature when it is taken off can cause a cold. Susan shrieked “stuff and nonesense, you sound like my mother and that was during the War”. “What is the War?” said Bejee. “Don’t go there” I said “its not worth it – it just shows how old Susan is, we’ll soon be bedding her down in the hay with a warm coat on!”
So Gus was given a special meal at lunchtime of chopped cabbage, beans and peas with a spot of olive oil. He ate it all up and then wandered into the paddock and lay down on his back. Well, all hell was let loose at this point Susan was yelling to Mohamed that he had died and all the humans started rushing round. I strolled over to him and said “Look here old boy, what is this all about”. Gus raised his head and said to me “Goodness almighty, can’t I get any peace round here. I’ve pulled a cart full of cement for years until my back is nearly broken and all I ask is to have a good lie down in the sun after my lunch”
20 August 2015
Mohammed went to a funeral in the next village to Oumnass. We were all amazed because Mohammed told us that the old man who died was 130! Charles wouldn’t believe him but everyone in the village confirmed it. Apparently he had known four Kings. I thought to myself that there was real hope for old Pablo.
Mohammed came back with Hassan in his large white van. I muttered to the herd that usually means something and we all rushed to the gate to see what was going on. AND, was I right? Yes of course I was! Out staggered a really old donkey who Mohammed had found whilst at the funeral. The poor old thing had been abandoned and he was being attacked by dogs. “Look at his hooves” I exclaimed. They were so overgrown he could hardly walk and he kept falling over. I ordered Susan to phone Dr Boubker at SPANA immediately and it is now arranged that the old boy will rest over the weekend, our farrier will come on Saturday to trim his hooves and then he can travel to SPANA to be castrated – Ouch!! We have called him Max but I was very clear to explain to him that I would still be head of the herd – so don’t get any ideas Max.
19 August 2015
“Tommy” shouted old Pablo “when are these stables going to be finished, I will have crossed the rainbow bridge before they are ready for me to move in to!” Not much chance of that I thought given Pablo’s good health! We were all worried we were going to loos him 6 months ago because he became so frail and lost even more weight. But thanks to Mohammed and his team not to mention some excellent treatment from SPANA he is now well and truly back on his hooves.
But back to Pablo’s question – the stable delay! Well, I put it to Mohammed that we really are fed up of watching the build each day but no opening celebration yet. “For goodness sake Tommy” he exclaimed “don’t you understand anything?” I was then reminded of the dreadful time we had with very sick mules during last winter and the struggle to keep them warm. Mohammed insisted that the new stables would be built his way in the truly traditional fashion with mud bricks made by hand, two bricks thick and coated with earth. Susan had thought that to be a very cheap way of building. How wrong was that? The labour involved and the wood for the roof turns out to be much more expensive that a modern fast build.
An expert on the Berber way of life visited last week and commented that our stables were probably one of the last of their type because people are no longer prepared to invest the time or money required to build in this way. So thank you to everyone who has contributed to this project. We are now sure of a cool place to shelter in the scorching sun and somewhere warm and toasty in the winter. The short video below shows the men from the village at work!
20 July 2015
After a busy few months building our new stables I am now resolved to pay attention to my blog. I was all ready to write some happy stuff when Susan came running to the stables to show Mohammed this photo!
OMG I hawed at the top of my voice and the two big mules, Henna and Organa, ran over to see what the problem was. This poor creature has been abandoned in Casablanca. “Get on to it straight away” the donkeys all shouted and Susan told us she had been in touch with a lady in France organising a rescue and has offered her a home with us if transport can be arranged.
HOOVES CROSSED AND ALL WISH HARD ENOUGH FOR THIS TO HAPPEN
31 May 2015
Old Pablo shouted I came from SPANA, they saved my life! Me too shouted Bejee and I wiped a tear from my donkey eye remembering the wonderful start I had as an orphan at the SPANA refuge in Marrakech. Wise old Byed (who is now almost completely blind) reminded me that I was the inspiration that encouraged the humans to offer sanctuary to the motley crew gathered here today.
Baby donkey is now old enough to join in and we welcomed, officially, the two large mules from the mountains who have joined us in their retirement. Organa is very old but gentle and kind. She looks after the baby when his behaviour gets out of hand. Henna, our grey mule, came with arthritis but as Emily constantly tells us all “You’d never know that mule has anything wrong with her, she has just nearly knocked me over again as she races round the paddock at speed!”
“Did you see her jump the paddock!” shrieked Jerry.
So now the humans are having to put in concrete fencing to keep Henna safe just like the paddock rails at SPANA (Society for the Protection of Animals and of Nature). The reality is that it is SPANA that eventually comes up with safe solutions to very real problems. Many of you will have seen a good deal of coverage about the welfare of mules in Morocco on social media over the last year but very little mention of SPANA. Mohammed reminded us, as he served us our latest meal of fresh hay, that SPANA in Marrakech treated 29,304 mules, donkeys and horses at their refuge last year. “And” said Molly the labrador “they treated 5.142 small animals, mainly dogs and cats”. Every one joined the chorus “how could this be, why so many and why doesn’t anyone else treat these medical emergencies!”
The humans were called to the meeting to explain. Susan has been a supporter of SPANA over the years and has campaigned on their behalf. She told us it was a tough world out there and SPANA for almost a hundred years had worked in the poorest regions of the world and consistently helped animals in the war zones. Their only base in the UK is administrative and all their work is in the field but they are not a wealthy charity. “Medical treatment and drugs cost money” I retorted “I had a blood transfusion and lots of medicines when I was born.” Susan went on to explain that there are only 2 vets at the Marrakech refuge and they are also responsible for providing clinics in the countryside. Only Moroccan vets are permitted to work in Morocco and our Mohammed explained that was very sensible because the needs of animals here are significantly different from those in the West and we should be encouraging more Moroccans to qualify. Increasing numbers of vets are graduating from the University in Rabat which is good news and we should all applaud and support their achievements.
The humans also went on to tell us that, sadly, there is even politics in charitable work. “What on earth are politics” exclaimed Emily. Always asking questions, that donkey! “Politics is the practice and theory of influencing other people or the practice of the distribution of power and resources within a given community.” said Charles. You can always rely on Charles to explain the meaning of words to us! The charitable care of animals relies on finite resources and organisations have to consider where those resources are best spent. SPANA has made a positive decision to continue to provide medical treatment where and whenever they can. The general view is that such intervention is not sustainable, probably correct, but that is what donors believe should happen. That is what they believe they give their hard earned money for. The alternative is to offer just training and education to communities, also very important but obviously cheaper to deliver. There are certainly examples in other parts of the world and there is one specific example where a local animal charity would not even put a dying horse out of its pain and SPANA had to cover a huge distance to reach the poor animal and administer appropriate drugs. However, the humans reminded us that all charities had their part to play and the very worst thing that can happen is that a particular organisation is singled out for criticism without all the facts being known. We all shouted hip, hip hurray for everyone who helps us as many of us would be not be here without human intervention.
“So there we go” I said to the herd “we could not survive here at Jarjeer without SPANA so one word of criticism when an overworked vet cannot get to an emergency in time will not be tolerated by us!” Those who are quick to judge should look to how they can help increase the financial pot so that more vets can be employed and more medicines can be provided. Whilst training is relatively inexpensive, drugs, food and manpower to care for animals 24 hours a day takes money and LOTS of it. At SPANA the vets not only treat animals on a daily basis but provide regular teaching sessions for children who visit the refuge and run training sessions for owners of mules, donkeys and horses.
We are all thrilled to welcome a delegation from SPANA in the UK and the President of SPANA in Morocco to Jarjeer next Friday following a ceremony in Imlil where prizes will be presented to the finest mules and their owners. The event is sponsored by SPANA, La Société Royale d’Encouragement du Cheval (SOREC) and The Haut Commissariat aux Eaux et Forets et a la Lutte Contre la Desertification. So here is my message to everyone who reads my blog:
“Let us all pull together to build a better future for the animals in Morocco so that their owners and families may enjoy and truly value their working animals”
A final note from Tommy:
“I have written this blog with Susan’s help and completely unsolicited by SPANA. We wanted to record our special thanks for all the help that the staff at the refuge have freely given to us over the last year. A big thank you from all my herd.”