Folly's Farm - Home of Rest For Donkeys & Ponies
Folly’s Farm Home of Rest for Donkeys and Ponies is a Hertfordshire-based non-profit organisation, run entirely on voluntary help and contributions. Most of our donkeys have been rescued from mistreatment and abuse, or from people who did not have the knowledge to give them proper care and attention. At Folly’s Farm we give them love, care and a comfortable home for the rest of their lives.
Folly’s Farm is an alternative sanctuary running on natural medicine and fed on chemical free and organic feed. That said, we would never deny the animals access to a conventional vet or medications if it were needed (ie. antibiotics). To read more about some of the alternative feed, supplements or methods of care we use, please see the ‘News’ section.
Want to know more about how we began? Then read on for Paul Drivers account….
How it all began
In 1972 Sue & I were married, it was a case of marry me, marry my horse. Both of us had very little money, but did not qualify for a council house. Sue saw an advert in ‘The Lady’ magazine for a cleaner, in return for a small flat which consisted of a kitchen, bathroom and one room which was our lounge come bedroom. This was part of a large house called Brick Kiln Cottage half a mile off the road, in the middle of the Ashridge Park Estate in Hertfordshire.The owners of the house bought a donkey in 1972 and called her Jenny-she was possibly in foal. In May 1973 a proud Jenny duly produced her daughter called Bluebell. Over the next five years, although they were looked after reasonably well, they needed more attention than they were receiving; also we used to have some very harsh winters, when Jenny and Bluebell would struggle to cope with the wet and cold. There was no stable or shelter, so on occasions they were put into the garage Sue and I would be often asked for our help. In 1978 Jenny and Bluebell were given to us as a Christmas present; Little did we realise that these two little donkeys would form the platform that would lead to FFSFD.
We often went to our local county shows to watch the donkey classes; so in 1980, having cared for our two donkeys, we decided to enter the Bucks County Show. We still had no stable or shelter, just a small standing area formed from paving slabs. We knew a sail maker who had started to make ‘made to measure’ horse rugs, so we ordered a pair for Jenny and Bluebell. Having done our grooming, exercising and practising for what we thought we would have to do in the show ring, the big day of our very first show arrived. We brought Jenny and Bluebell up from the field to prepare them-We loaded up our two very smart donkeys and off we went to the Bucks County Show hoping we had done all the preparation required. Well, what can I say- it still makes me very proud of both of them. Jenny won the mares class and was also the reserve champion and Bluebell won second prize in the novices event.
In March 1984 Sue was given some birthday money and went to Southall market to see if there were any donkeys in the pen. That’s when Clancy arrived.(We will be running detailed stories on all our residents in future articles). In 1986, having done the ‘showing’ rounds at the local county shows-Hickstead, Bath & Windsor to mention a few, we decided to concentrate on the welfare of and to rescue more donkeys and by 1988 we had acquired a number of animals which included goats, chickens,ponies and donkeys. Unfortunately, that year, the owners of the cottage had decided to divorce; very sad as we thought they would retire there. So plans had to be made to move on; but sadly before that happened we lost our donkey Jenny to Laminitis. We had saved a small amount of money which enabled us to put a deposit on a property at Nursery Terrace and in July that year we moved in. All our charges were accommodated by a local farmer and for a few months were settled. The farmer then had the chance to rent the land where the sanctuary is today and asked us if we were interested in sub-letting part of the land and stables, which was ideal as by now our donkey China Girl had arrived. Once again all the animals were settled into their new home. A year later the owner of the land realised that part of it was being sub-let to us and was not very happy, so he gave the farmer notice to vacate and back we went to the local farm. However, the owner of the land felt for us and we became friends- We always made him aware that we would be interested if he ever wanted to sell-another year or so went by and finally he asked that very important question. A figure was agreed, we re-mortgaged our house and purchased the land where we now have peace of mind and security and that is how Folly’s Farm Sanctuary for Donkeys began. The year was 1990.
Written by Paul Driver