Look Who’s Moved into Our Valley

Donkey at a gate

One of Francisco’s donkeys…no longer in the valley

When we first moved to rural Mallorca in 2004, there were more animals than people in our valley. These were mainly sheep, or sheeps – as our German neighbour calls them in the plural form. (English must be quite a complicated language for a foreigner to learn).

For quite a few years, several farmers owned small flocks that were regularly moved from one field to another, somewhere else in the valley. The sound of an increasingly loud symphony of sheep-bells was a warning that the lane would be temporarily blocked to traffic by woolly walkers, being guided by the farmer towards another of his patchy patches of land. Sadly, we rarely awaken to the sound of dongling sheep-bells nearby these days: the field opposite our casita is no longer the part-time home of frolicking lambs or their bell-toting mums.

These beasts are no burden

We also used to hear regular distant donkey-braying – another of my favourite rural sounds. Francisco – an animal-loving Mallorcan who did gardening jobs for some of our neighbours – owned a few donkeys in a field down in the valley. If we were going for a walk in that direction, we often took a few carrots or an apple for them. When Francisco sadly died suddenly, after being ill for a while, the donkeys disappeared shortly afterwards.

It’s safe to assume, then, that I was rather excited by some new four-legged arrivals we spotted last week in the valley. Two ponies, a donkey, and a mule (or is it an ass? We really couldn’t tell) were munching their way through a different field at the bottom of the lane.  The photos were taken with my smart phone. I’ll be tottering down the hill again soon – with my smarter Nikon and its zoom lens.

Pony in a field

The new boy in town? Could be a girl – hard to see through all that fur!

Animals in a field

Settling into their new abode

Grazing pony

Pony number two enjoying the buffet

We have no idea who owns either the field or the beasts, but were delighted to see these new neighbours. Looks as though we’ll be buying extra carrots and apples again…

©Jan Edwards 2018

8 thoughts on “Look Who’s Moved into Our Valley

  1. Glad to see companions with the donkey – they hate being solitary.
    We too used to hear and see the sheep as they traversed our finca, north of Felanitx, or down the local roads.
    Now many of the old ways have been closed as land is increasingly fenced off as shepherds retire or pass on.
    Many years ago near Sta Eugenia a shepherd would play the pipes on warm summer evenings, the sound echoing up the valley to us sitting on our roof. Very special.
    Fortunately two of our neighbouring fincas have donkeys ( or burros) and it is not unusual for the quiet to be broken by that strangulated heehaw that sounds like an animal in great distress.
    Well done blogging, the more who appreciate rural Mallorca the better.

    • Thank you, John. I love the thought of the shepherd playing the pipes. I do wish things weren’t changing as much as they are in the countryside. Mind you, I also appreciate that rural life for the locals has probably been pretty tough over the years. Several farmers in our valley still work the land but go home to an apartment in Manacor at the end of the day. Best wishes, Jan

  2. I also love the sound of sheep-bells and luckily I can now and then hear them from the field opposite my finca. Another neighbour also have sheep with bells. On my way into Porreres I often pass one or two flocks so they are not all gone! The braying of a donkey is also a favourite country sound I have missed for many years but now Bernardo, one of my friendly neighbours, have acquired one and I often meet him driving it on our gravel road. The braying is back!

    • Oh, how lovely for you, Anders – the return of the donkey braying. I’d love a donkey, but we’d have to have two at least, or one and a pony, and The Boss would not agree to that! I take my pleasure from fussing over other people’s and providing the little treats like carrots and apples. Best wishes, Jan

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