Malcolm, a baby goat who arrived the night before the Open House
The annual Open House at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary
was this past Sunday. It’s the biggest event, and biggest fundraiser, of the year at the sanctuary, pulling in around 1,000 – 1,200 people usually. I haven’t heard the official numbers yet for this year, but early guestimates put the numbers at the high end of the range.
We’d all been keeping a close eye on the weather forecast, and all the forecasters agreed that the rain would hold off until evening. The event is from 1-5, so we had high hopes that the weather would be good for the event. And then it started raining around 6:30am, as I was on my way to the sanctuary. It rained harder and harder as the morning went on, and we grew more and more worried. Who would realistically come to the event if it was raining?
And then we got lucky. A couple hours before the event was to start, the rain stopped. The skies lightened a bit, and we even had some sun here and there. The temps were perfect, the wind was light, and it all came together to be perfect event weather!
Some blue sky appeared!
The Open House includes a Silent Auction, a speaker, a band, some great food catered in from local vegan businesses, and of course the chance for people to meet the animals. Jonathan Balcombe, author of Pleasurable Kingdom and more recently Second Nature, was the speaker. I heard wonderful things about his talk, but hearing the speakers is one thing I never get a chance to do at the event. I did talk to him briefly afterward – he volunteers once in a while at the sanctuary, and it makes me that much more interested to read his books, though unfortunately I haven’t yet had the time to do so.
Watercolor of Jeremy, donated by Sorrow
I spent the event down at the chicken barn, as usual, and it seemed to be a good crowd of people pretty much the whole time. The friendliest chickens end up getting more attention than even they are interested in, but that just gives us reason to talk to the people there about the behavior they see of the chickens as they scratch at the ground and dustbathe and dance and, yes, even mate.
I was also lucky enough to meet some people who had played roles in the rescue of some of the Poplar Spring residents. One boy, maybe 12 years old, was clearly looking for a specific chicken. I asked him who he was looking for, and Florence was the answer. She’s one of the chickens who doesn’t live in the main chicken yard, but with a separate group who spend most of their time near the bird feeders by the house. I wasn’t sure exactly where she’d be, but I took him up there to see if we could find her. He told me on the way that it was his uncle who had rescued her, found in a parking lot (or garage) at George Mason University. I thought that was pretty cool. We did find Florence, hanging out with Marty and one of the newer chickens, Evelyn, so I left him there to watch them and hang out a bit.
Stained glass donated by Sorrow (which I think we displayed upside down!)
Later a woman, Terri, showed up who works for one of the nearby counties, and I learned that she had helped Arthur, the newer peacock, Betty, Butch and Billy (a momma sheep who arrived with her newborn twins), and many others come to the sanctuary. Terry tells me that they’ve worked with her for many years, and she’s determined to find homes for all the farmed animals, will drive them anywhere – has driven some up to sanctuaries in New York when Poplar Spring can’t take them.
Earlier in the day, while doing the normal animal chores, I was working with a woman, Karla, who had been part of the group who rescued Truffles, Timmy and Patsy! Even though I knew the story, it was great to hear some of the extra details of someone who had first-hand experience.
There is something very satisfying about talking to the people who facilitated the rescue.
Wilbur, eating ice in lieu of more interesting treats
That’s one of the things I love about the events – I am there to share my knowledge of the birds with the flock of curious, interested, and caring people who come to visit, but I always end up learning quite a bit from the visitors and other people working the event as well.
So the event was a success in the end, from every perspective. The weather, the speaker, the food, the band, and the donations.
Also read Ryan’s experience being flustered by the questions of a 10 year old (and an incredibly cute picture of his daughter holding the tiny bundle of cuteness we call Alina), and watch a great video of the event by a local paper. (Video auto-plays.)
The things my mom made and donated for the silent auction