Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Mugly sanctuary day

Saturday looked like it was going to be an ugly day at the sanctuary. Cold, muddy, sort of rainy. Somehow it wasn’t as cold as expected, and there was no rain. It was still muddy, but we had more volunteers than usual, and so the work went by quicky with plenty of laughter, and chased by some kind of vegan ice cream bar. (Thanks Ryan!) Nice cream bars in the winter? What can I say, it hit the spot!

I get the feeling sometimes that by posting the cute sanctuary pictures that I give the wrong impression of what we do there as volunteers, that maybe people think we frolic around petting the residents as our “work”. Yes, it is true, we get to interact with the animals (when they’re in the mood for us), but mostly we’re picking up poop.

Buckets and spreaders full of poop.

manure sculpture art

That’s Ryan, by the way, talking to Terry. And you thought he did nothing but run a blog! We do manage to get a lot of conversation in during our bucket-and-rake meditations.

The pig yard is one of those places that can be either the second most enjoyable area (though I will deny that I have favorites, the goats are my favorites, really) or the number one messiest area! When it rains or snows, it gets muddy and messy. The pigs root around for their food, and curious creatures that they are, they come over with those muddy noses and sides and make sure we share in the joy of being muddy! Actually, I think the pig area ends up being the messiest area regardless of the conditions!

muddy pig yard

Even on dry days, working at the sanctuary is dirty work, and hauling buckets of poop and 40lb (when full) buckets of water around can be a pretty good workout. On thanksgiving, I somehow ended up doing all the water buckets. 7 in the goat yard, 2 in the pig barn, 4 in the horse barn. 13 x 40. That’s a lot of pounds of water! I was a wee bit sore the next day. Sure beats going to the gym though!

Of course, in the end, it is indeed the animals that get us there and keep us going back. Even on the worst days, going to the sanctuary is the highlight of my weekend. No matter how messy, no matter how much poop, no matter how cold or rainy, I feel peace and community at the sanctuary, and my priorities are reaffirmed.

Say hi to Jacob. He’s lived at Poplar Spring since he was a baby.



8 responses to “Mugly sanctuary day

  1. rich December 9, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Wow, I have only been there a handful of times but never when the pig area was that bad. The water may be heavy but to me the heaviest thing is the pig poop buckets. It may be because I always overload them but they must be 6-70 lbs. and awkward.
    I am not sure why but I love being around the birds. I truly can’t stand the strong ammonia smell when scraping and washing the perches. Though I have gotten over the gag reflexes, but I love being around them, they are so curious and you can see all the different personalities. Plus I love all the swallows, sparrows, and whatever else hang out in the rafters. If it didn’t smell in there I might ask Terry what she would charge for rent.

  2. Deb December 9, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    Yeah, I’m always pretty careful not to overload the poop buckets in the pig yard. It isn’t even dragging them around that’s the problem for me, it is lifting them up to dump them into the spreader! It can get really really heavy too.

    I do love being around the birds as well. I recognize Simon’s demands to be picked up now, and of course there are the wee ones who have grown so much they are almost full size! And you are right about all the personalities. I don’t notice the smell very much. I think you must be really sensitive to it somehow! Must go along with hating cilantro. I was amazed the first time I went at how clean it was in the chicken barns. And that was before we had cleaned it!

  3. Ryan December 10, 2007 at 10:45 am

    After seeing those shots of us, I’m pretty sure Terry and I are going to steal your camera the next time you’re at the farm. 🙂

  4. Mary Martin December 10, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    I gag when I smell cilantro, but not the sea turtle poop I clean on Mondays at the rehab center. Thanks for giving us a better idea of what you do and what the, um, work looks like.

    Goats rule.

  5. rich December 10, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    I guess I should say it is not that smelly, just a smell that gets to me. If I walk in there I don’t smell it, it is when we are scrubbing them. Yeah last time I was there Simon ran up to me and starting pecking at the hose sprayer. I pushed him back and filled the bowl and he started drinking it immediately. He must have been thirsty.
    Oh and the one baby rooster starting to gather his girls 🙂

  6. Deb December 10, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    Ryan – I was just trying to get some portraits of poop, and you and terry kept jumping in the picture! What’s a girl to do? 😉

    Mary – that’s funny, about the cilantro being worse than the turtle poop! It was a really really messy day there, one of the messiest I’ve experienced, I think! So I took messy pictures…

    Rich – yeah, I wondered if it didn’t get to you until the scrubbing started. I wonder if it could even be the cleaner reacting to the stuff. I don’t really even notice, myself!

    Simon is such a sweetie. And yes, that rooster is sure growing up fast! 😀

  7. Kristen August 13, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    It’s so true the pig poop buckets get so heavy so fast! Sometimes I catch myself being too much of a girlie girl and trying not to get the mud all over me 🙂 But even after a really really muddy rainy day, volunteering is always the highlight of my week.

    How do you keep your camera from getting too dusty and dirty? I usually take mine out after the chores are done, but then you don’t get great shots like this sometimes…

    ps. I got all giddy when I saw the snow! I’m looking forward to photographing all the seasons at the sanctuary, even though I’m a ninny when it comes to cold weather, but I’m from SoCal…

  8. Deb August 13, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    If you have any expectation of it being really really muddy (or just really rainy), bring a change of clothes! 🙂

    I don’t really keep my camera from getting dusty and dirty. The lens has a clear uv lens filter on it (go for glass), which protects the surface of the lens. I have had that camera for around 4 years now, and have been going to the sanctuary with it for 3. The lens filter does get dusty, and the camera overall does get some dirt/mud/dust on it, but I’ve never had any real problems. There’s always the danger of babying the camera to the point you never have it with you! As a favorite photographer says, the best camera is the one you have with you. 🙂

    My camera has been out in all weather – rain, mud, heat, dust, snow, etc. I have taken it on my bike too! I just don’t worry much about it!

    As for snow, it might be rare. We didn’t see any at the sanctuary last year!

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