Lockdown an ass? Build a donkey dining room

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Lockdown an ass? Build a donkey dining room

The owner of an Overberg padstal has created a much-talked-about shelter for his four-legged lodgers

Journalist
Donkeys shelter beneath their bespoke furniture at Dassiesfontein, outside Caledon.
seeing is believing Donkeys shelter beneath their bespoke furniture at Dassiesfontein, outside Caledon.
Image: Supplied

As if the world wasn’t topsy-turvy enough, a new “donkey dining room” on the N2 might bring a smile to your face.

A giant table and chairs were installed last week to create a shady shelter for donkeys belonging to well-known “padstal” and restaurant Dassiesfontein, outside Caledon in the Overberg. As a result the donkeys have acquired celebrity status, receiving a steady stream of snacks from curious visitors.

Padstal manager Andelien Lakay said the unusual landmark was the brainchild of Dassiesfontein owner Sassie Fick, who spotted pictures of a similar installation in Germany.

“We were closed for a month (lockdown) and in that time the owner decided he wanted to do it as a shelter for the donkeys. I thought he was kidding,” Lakay said, adding that a local builder obliged and finished the job last week. 

“I think the idea was mainly to create a shelter for the donkeys, but a lot of people are stopping because they want to see it,” Lakay said.

The table, which weighs 1.8 tons and is 2.8m tall and 3.2m wide, is visible from the N2. Each table leg weighs about 100kg.  Carpenter Derek Jeken, who saw Fick’s photos, said the unexpected coronavirus lockdown had provided the opportunity to action the project: “When they announced lockdown, I said, look, we will be stuck at home, so let’s get on with it. The material was delivered the day lockdown started and I started building it in my backyard.

“Building it was a helluva challenge,” said Jeken, who, due to lockdown, had to do most of the work himself, with few tools and only his wife to help with the heavy lifting.

Visitors to Dassiesfontein, outside Caledon, can be forgiven for thinking they've lingered too long over their lunchtime wine.
Honky Donky Visitors to Dassiesfontein, outside Caledon, can be forgiven for thinking they've lingered too long over their lunchtime wine.
Image: supplied

When they were finally able to deliver the finished product to the donkey camp behind the Dassiesfontein restaurant, the donkeys were far more interested in the workers’ lunches than their new furniture.

“The first thing the donkeys did was to get into somebody’s lunch bag. Then they came over and got into the boxes of nuts and screws, shaking everything out. Then they bit holes in the bags of cement,” Jeken said.

Fortunately, they seemed to appreciate the shade, too, he added.

The outdoor attraction is also popular with shop and restaurant visitors: “Every time I go past there people are posing with donkeys — you can’t believe it,” Jeken said.

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