Those of you that know me know that next to children I love animals next. So one of the things I loved about working at Kelder Farms was the fact that they had a petting zoo!! Now the star of the petting zoo was a donkey named Walter. Walter had been around since the opening of the farm and had been in the family long before that. No one really knows how old he was but he was certainly old! Everyone loved Walter. Many visitors to the farm had never seen a donkey and even more had not heard one bray. And if one didn't come quick enough with the petting zoo food Walter would let you know. And boy was he loud.. On the opening day each spring, children would get out of their cars and run to see Walter. And believe me, many adults did too! Walter became famous. He has his face on farm tshirts and on tattoos. And when the farm had a new sign made this year guess whose picture got top billing?!!
During the fall the farm has many school classes come for trips. Walter was the favorite and he seemed to love when the children came. It was his job to be friendly and gentle and he was.
The last few weeks Walter had not been feeling well. The vet had come out many times and antibiotics seemed to help for awhile. My last day of work was last Sat. Oct. 31st, the farm's last day of the regular season(although it is open to buy animal feed through out the winter) On Monday Nov. 1st the last school trip was scheduled. On Friday of this past week I stopped by to say hello and pick up my paycheck. When I got out of the car, I didn't see Walter ( I looked for him). I figured he must be grazing down the hill...... or at least that is what I hoped. After visiting for a few minutes I was told the sad news, Walter had died during the week. The vet had done some more tests and could not believe that he was still alive. But I know why he was. He had to finish out his job. He wasn't done. He made sure he was there for that last school class to arrive and only then did he know it was time to go. Of this I have no doubt. There are many that will miss Walter...the family that owned and loved him, the staff who worked with him, the adults who like me had a special soft spot for him and the children who came year after year and learned about friendship from an old, gentle, gray donkey. Goodbye Walter, you did your job well and you will be greatly missed!!!
I was sooo lucky to get this picture of Sierra and Walter shortly before he died!!