Everdene & Oak

Everdene & Oak's Story

Both Everdene and Oak were born at Far From after their respective mothers Flow and Phylis arrived pregnant. Both mothers came to us malnourished and despite our best efforts, did not gain enough weight to be considered healthy. The extra nourishment they received during pregnancy went straight to the foals and both were born with Ballerina Syndrome (meaning they gradually stand on their tiptoes). This is uncommon in foals with underweight mares, but we did our best to help them as much as possible.

Everdene was born first to mother Flow and was a full-figured foal – so fat and fluffy, the vet described her as a ‘stuffed toy!’ Lavished with attention from day one, Everdene shares her mother’s confident and bossy nature, always greeting other members of the Far From family and quickly welcoming newcomers. However, she is also exceedingly stubborn – on walks with Everdene we’ve had to get down on our hands and knees and beg her to follow us! She’s aware of how special she is and is a real daddy’s girl.

At less than 6 months old, Everdene had to have both legs operated on due to her Ballerina Syndrome. Her and Oak are so inseparable that he had to walk her into surgery!

Oak was born a week after Everdene, to mother Phylis. We arrived in the stable to find Oak born and mum in a fluster. They needed human intervention with feeding. It became apparent that Phylis was rejecting Oak – when I was in the stable with them, she was relaxed, and would get stressed if I left. She couldn’t mentally cope with Oak and needed help. The donkey sanctuary was there every step of the way and to our amazement, four days in, she started feeding him! This was a huge step but was all that Phylis could manage. She never groomed him, loved him, or taught him anything. In her eyes, that was my job, but she fed him for me. Oak was not allowed to stand near her unless he was feeding, and this resulted in Oak starting to ‘zone out’ in the stable. His developing brain was not being stimulated, and we knew it needed stimulation.

I went to the stable every 2 hours day and night and sat with him for 45 minutes at a time. I would cuddle, groom, and play with Oak – anything to stimulate his little brain and encourage normal donkey behaviour. 3 years on and Oak is very much still my little boy. He’s a unique soul and though he has his mother’s nervous nature, he comes across as confident as is now a typical stroppy adolescent boy! He is a huge drama queen – once, we had to call out an emergency vet because Morris had left the barn light on overnight. Oak couldn’t sleep because of it and looked like he was on death’s door the following morning. Talk about giving us a scare!

Oak didn’t suffer as badly as Everdene with the Ballerina Syndrome, and our wonderful farrier managed to nurse him to health using special shoes. We are so grateful for the time and effort put into Everdene and Oak’s recovery by the farrier team. They are both a perfect example of why paying for a master farrier is essential to the welfare of your equines.

Oak has recently been diagnosed with COPD and is gaining weight. We currently have the situation under control and we’re keeping him comfortable and happy. It has been a bit of a blow, and you can’t help but wonder if it’s due to the difficult start he had in life.

Everdene and Oak have an extremely special bond. Just like their mothers, they can’t be separated. The four now run together and have stables right next to each other. You can often see them cantering around the field following one another and you’ll frequently hear them telling the entire valley that I haven’t let them into their stables as early as they would desire it.

Everdene and Oak are named after the main characters in Thomas Hardy’s novel Far from the Madding Crowd. As you may have guessed, Far From takes its name from the same place. We’re very proud of our 2 beautiful, cheeky donkeys and we’re sure you’ll love them too.

How You Can Help

Like most of our wonderful rescue animals, Everdene and Oak require constant care and attention. Whether you can donate some apples and carrots for snacking, a rug to help temperature control, or even some matching collars so we can walk them with guests, Everdene and Oak would be extremely grateful for your help.

We opened the Far From Holiday Retreat in order to provide us with funds to enable us to continue our work with these beautiful animals. During the Covid crisis alone we have taken in eight horses, five pigs and a feral farm cat! All new arrivals must be microchipped and passported (and normally they aren’t), vaccinated three times, rasped, wormed and given a general health check by the vet – with the majority requiring many more visits to ensure that they are happy and healthy.

If you are unable to come and visit us, you can still help us to continue our work by supporting us financially. We have included a couple of options below.

Apples and Carrots

£5

Donkeys are used to eating small meals throughout the day and breaking up the treats will help maintain their eating schedule. Almost any fruits – and many vegetables – are safe treats for healthy donkeys. Apples and carrots are traditional favourites especially with our donkeys!

NAF Minty Treats (2 bags)

£10

NAF Minty Treats contain only natural ingredients with real peppermint that gives them a delicious and powerful flavour loved by our donkeys. These highly palatable treats are ideal as an occasional reward, a training aid or just a snack every now and then.

Fly Spray

£15

We use fly spray for our donkeys especially in the summer months. Flies are a general nuisance, but for some of our donkeys their bites can lead to reactions and persistent itching and discomfort, so this really is a lifesaver as they are highly effective and long-lasting!

2 Weeks' Worth of Barley Straw

£20

We feed Everdene and Oak quality barley straw as it is high in fibre and low in sugar, and closely resembles the food that a donkey would eat in the wild. Constant access to straw allows them to eat to their appetite without consuming too many calories.

A Farrier Visit

£25

Every donkey needs their hooves trimmed every 6 to 10 weeks (depending on the donkey). To have a happy, healthy donkey it is essential to have a fully qualified, caring, reliable farrier to complete this task.

Matching Collars

£35

Everdene and Oak are young and energetic little donkeys, who love people and human contact. Everdene and Oak are currently being trained up by the Far From team to do donkey walks with our holiday guests and having some new head collars would be great for this. They love exploring the farm with you by their side.

Hooded Rug for Everdene

£60

Donkeys are designed to live in arid landscapes, unlike horses their coats are not waterproof. So though donkeys are hardy animals in many ways, a wet donkey is a miserable donkey.

Stable Rug for Oak

£70

Oak has been diagnosed with COPD and has always struggled to keep weight on because of his difficult start in life. By wrapping him up during the long winter nights he spends in the barn. It allows him to conserve energy, keep his weight up and stay warm and cosy.

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