Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

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Tender Moments, Bucket Challenges, and Nictitating Membranes

Remember when I talked about the Washington Post photographer who spent the morning with us, following Jonathan for an upcoming feature in the paper? It is to be published tomorrow (Saturday, April 14), but it’s already online. Check it out!

I especially liked the pictures he had of people with the animals. The one with Monty really struck a chord for me. It is so tender! Monty is a love.

Speaking of a tender moment, when I first arrived at the sanctuary last weekend, it was to this sight:

Jacob and Emliy

Jacob is the bigger one, and Emily is the blind cow who came a couple years ago. You can’t actually see it in the picture, but he was licking her neck. Very sweet!

In the pig yard we always joke around about practicing for the poop catching olympics. It’s a special talent to catch the poop in action, so to speak, and it’s quite efficient also to let the poop land on your rake and put it into the bucket, rather than having the ground as a middle man.

Ben upped the game last weekend. He caught Harley’s poop directly into the bucket!

Harley, and Ben's bucket

Pretty sure Harley is grinning.

And then little Patty, sneaking under a gate in the pig yard. She and her sister, Paige, as well as a couple of the older pigs who need a bit extra food, get fed extra in a section of the yard that can be gated shut, so that they can eat without fuss from the other pigs. Patty didn’t let something like a gate keep her in! When she was ready to go, she just scooted right out. (And then back in, and then back out!)

Patty scooting under the gate

She’s so cute. I think that she’ll lose the “curly” hair when she sheds her winter coat, but in the meantime, it is so adorable!

In the chicken yard, Dusty wandered by where Jonathan and I were petting Tilly. I take a lot of pictures of Dusty, I admit! This past year, my parents gave me a gift of two chicken sponsorships. I’d been asking for a sponsorship of an animal at the sanctuary for years, and they never went for it. This year, in frustration, I put nothing else on my wish list. I guess that did the trick!

I had to choose two chickens for the official sponsorship, and that was hard for me. I try to not have favorites. I love them all, and I want to get to know them all, and having favorites just feels wrong for me.

I decided on Alina right away (because who doesn’t want to cuddle that little ball of sweetness? but also because she’d had a bit of a fight with a rooster I’m sponsoring for my dad (they have the same name) and her eye was injured…) and then took about three months to decide on who else.

Finally, I decided on Dusty. I’m not really sure what went into that decision, other than I’d been focused on getting a nice picture of her for a few weeks, so she was on my mind.

Dusty

And now that I’m sponsoring her, I notice her even more, which leads to taking more pictures of her.

As I looked at the pictures I’d gotten last weekend, I noticed that in one of them her nictitating membrane (aka “third eyelid”) was closed. This happens fairly often when taking pictures of the birds at the sanctuary, and it’s one of the reasons that I tend to take pictures on “burst mode” (also that they tend to dart around, and move their head very quickly). I usually just pass those pics by.

Dusty with her nictitating membrane closed

But then I saw that I had a third picture with the nictitating membrane only half closed! And that was pretty cool. The nictitating membrane is a very cool adaptation. I think it would come in handy on the bike as well, but humans aren’t so lucky!

Dusty with half-closed nictitating membrane


I didn’t find out Dusty’s story until after I started sponsoring her. She was found in back of an apartment complex. A woman heard peeping, which led her to Dusty, a tiny chick at the time. Luckily for Dusty, the woman took her in. There is very little chance she’d have survived the night – too many predators, too many dangers.

Though we don’t know Dusty’s story prior to her rescue, we do know that being dumped in a field is a very common fate for the hatching project chicks. Helpless on their own, they will approach anyone, hoping to be cared for. They won’t last even one night alone.

On our way back to our cars, Jonathan stopped to play with Josie again. It is so awesome to see them playing together! He’ll be out of town this weekend, but maybe we’ll be able to imitate him enough to satisfy Josie.

Jonathan and Josie

I took loads of pics, hoping some of them would come out. Hard to know what you’ll get when you have an active little lamb leaping all over the place! I was really excited I ended up with quite a few really nice ones, and a couple where Josie is completely in the air. Levitating!

Josie, levitating

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