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Living in the deep end

18-month-old Kurt Fletcher makes sure new mum Dainty the donkey is well looked after while her new-born foal gets used to her surroundings.

By GREG O’CONNOR
While it’s not unusual for a Wimmera family to welcome a new pet to its home, it might be considered slightly odd when the arrival is a new-born miniature donkey.
However, the birth of a foal ends a patient two-year wait for Mockinya couple Greg and Rebecca Fletcher. And it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
The young hobby farmers have been steadily adding to their menagerie since buying a 12-acre property, 30 kilometres south of Horsham, in 2006.
Their list currently stands at 20 sheep, three chickens, two cats, two budgies, two ponies and now, two donkeys.
Yet-to-be-named, the miniature donkey foal has been high on the couple’s wish-list since their arrival in the Wimmera.
“I’ve always wanted to own donkeys,” Rebecca told The Weekly Advertiser.
“They’re beautiful, gentle animals with big brown eyes and lovely fluffy ears,” she said.
The Fletchers purchased the foal’s mother, a 13-year-old miniature donkey named Dainty, more than two years ago and have been working on the new arrival ever since.
“It’s been a long wait for the foal because it takes 12 months and the first pregnancy resulted in a still-born,” Rebecca said.
But with the help of Bruce and Sue Taylor’s Dimboola miniature donkey stud, the couple were able to achieve their goal.
It is one of many highlights and challenges the couple has faced since making a ‘tree-change’ from Melbourne in 2005.
“Greg’s job was with contaminated land in the city and I was a school teacher when we decided to make the move to the country to start a family,” Rebecca said.
“Greg wanted to work in river health and applied for every job he was passionate about,” she said.
An appointment at Wimmera Catchment Management Authority led to the couple arriving in Horsham in 2005 and it wasn’t long before the opportunity to purchase the Mockinya property arose.
“We threw ourselves in the deep end and have been learning as we go by reading a lot of books and getting great advice from some wonderful neighbours,” Rebecca said.
“We’ve gone from a tiny unit with no back-yard to 12 acres of farmland, so there’s been a lot to learn.”
The couple’s 18-month-old son Kurt spends plenty of time in the paddock, taking great delight in helping mum feed the animals, especially new mum Dainty.
“Donkeys are really good with children because if they’re feeling worried they just freeze,” Rebecca said.
“They don’t kick so there’s never a concern when Kurt’s around them.”
And as for a name for the new arrival, a couple of options are being considered.
“We thought Patience was a good name because she kept us waiting so long, but I also like the name Bluebell,” Rebecca said.
“We’ll know the name when it feels right.”

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Posted on Mar 24 2010

Posted by on Mar 24 2010. Filed under Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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