Baby fever is in the air in Sackville. But it has nothing to do with the Royal family.
Excitement has been building for months at the Doncaster Farm and the neighbouring nursing home, where the residents there have been waiting in anticipation for the new arrival. That moment came just last week, in the early morning hours of Friday, May 3, with the birth of a new foal.
Ted Doncaster, owner and operator of the farm, let the nursing home residents know of the birth by placing pink and purple balloons out where they could see them from their dining room.
“Needless to say, the day the filly arrived, residents were beaming when they noticed purple and pink balloons hanging on the farm’s post as they knew the filly had arrived and it was a girl,” said Natasha Mills, activity director at the Drew Nursing Home.
Mills said the residents have been carefully following the horse’s gestation since Doncaster told them of the pending birth last spring. Many of them regularly watch the horses frolic in the field and were excited about the news, paying even closer attention to the mom – a 14-year-old quarter horse – as the time grew closer.
“Actually I think they cared more about its birth than they did about the Royal family,” she said.
Mills said one resident in particular just adores the horses and Doncaster brought her in a picture of all of the farm’s horses so she could remember their names. And another resident, when staff can’t find her, they know to look in the Fundy dining room first because she is usually there watching the horses.
Following the birth, Mills said she posted an ‘It’s a Girl’ banner and a few pictures of the new filly in the dining room and on the main information podium.
“It was the topic of conversation for both residents and visitors,” she said. “They were also excited to see her picture because it ended the debate of, would it have mom’s or dad’s colours?”
Doncaster said it brings a smile to his face knowing how excited the Drew residents have been throughout the past 11 months. Having worked as manager of environmental services at the nursing home from 2015 to 2018, he developed a kinship with the residents there and during his visits they would always be asking him about the horses.
The residents were even more thrilled when they learned they would have a hand in helping to name the new foal.
“They had fun coming up with a bunch of names,” said Doncaster.
Mills said the naming process began mere moments after the residents learned of the gender, with name suggestions soon flying around the dining room.
“You would have sworn our life depended on naming this filly as everyone had a suggestion,” she said. “Then you could hear them whisper and talk about, well what has been decided?”
Names were suggested based on the time of day it was born (sunrise/sunbeam) to the month she was born in, said Mills.
“A Russian co-worker even suggested a Russian name, which translated to sunrise, but impossible for most of us to pronounce so we had a good laugh about that.”
In the end, Nellie May was chosen as the winner.
“We are now eager to meet her,” said Mills.
Doncaster said he will be bringing Nellie to the nursing home entrance for a visit with the residents when the filly is a bit stronger, perhaps in a month or two.
Doncaster said coincidentally, not long after the filly’s new name was selected, he discovered an old trophy of his grandmother’s from the Maritime Winter Fair in 1948 for saddle horse racing, which she had captured riding a horse named Nellie. The foal was also born May 3, his late dad Bud Doncaster’s birthday.