As soon as I got to the sanctuary on Saturday one of the other volunteers came over to show me a gorgeous box turtle he’d rescued from the road. He’d decided to bring the turtle along with him to the sanctuary instead of just helping him across the road. There’s a little stream near the chicken barn, and that’s where the turtle, named Ben after his rescuer, was released. Don’t they look happy? Well, I would guess Ben the turtle was even happier when he had his feet on the ground near the stream in the woods!
The long-awaited and gorgeous new sheep barn has been in place for about a month, but it was only last week that it was ready to be used. So Saturday was the first time we got to see the sheep hanging out in their new barn. It was so cute, they didn’t seem to know what to do with all that space! And no goats to pester them!
It’s interesting to watch them become accustomed to new routines and places/buildings. We’re all creatures of habit, and this certainly makes it easier to care for animals (especially herds of animals!), but adjustments do take time. Watching those adjustments is seeing critical mass in action.
I’m reminded of my cats. I feed each of them in a different room – Jake in the kitchen, Tempest in the living room, and Tristan in the bedroom. Tristan practically dances in impatience as I put the other food bowls down, and he always lunges for Jake’s food bowl at first, before catching himself and remembering that his food will be elsewhere. Then he runs ahead to where I put Tempest’s bowl down, and finally he runs to the bedroom to wait for me, crying the whole time.
All of the animals at the sanctuary are, in various ways, so much like my cats. Those who get medication know that it’s coming, and they’ll sometimes remind Terry and Dave if there’s a delay. The pigs will be sleeping peacefully in the barn, but when they hear the sounds of the food bins being opened, they race out of the barn and into the yard where they know the food will soon appear. The sheep and goats and chickens know their routines, know which stalls are theirs, and it’s a bit like a dance.
To top it off, each caretaker has their own variations on the routines, and the animals not only know the general routine, they know what to expect of each individual. Confusion ensues if, for instance, Dave tries to do things in the exact same way that the farm manager does. The animals know better!
They even know days of the week. There was a volunteer who came on Sundays, and who would bring treats for the goats and sheep. On weeks when she wasn’t able to come, the goats and sheep would be complaining starting mid-morning that Sunday, wanting their treats! But only on Sundays…
After all the rains last week we were expecting the pig yard to be a mud pit. It wasn’t actually too bad!
But the mud puddle was quite healthy, and making the pigs very happy.
That cutie on the left? That’s Harley! I don’t end up with many pictures of him, since he always seems to be off in the far pasture, so I was happy to see his cute little black-nosed floppy-eared mug.
When we were leaving the horse barn, two of the other volunteers noticed a very small snake who seemed to be doing not so great. We think he was stepped on. Terry brought him outside to the side of the barn, and we watched him a bit. He was holding his head funny, and kept opening his mouth really wide, and then closing it. He also had what looked like a cut on his side, but it might have been more an abrasion than a cut. Eventually he started moving a bit faster, and keeping his mouth closed, but flicking his tongue. Acting more normal, though he did still hold his head kind of funny. Terry says that sometimes when they are injured they are in a sort of shock, but they’ll perk up after a few minutes. That’s exactly what seemed to be happening with this little guy, so we left him alone to recover.
A couple weeks ago a half-grown orphan goose, raised by a local wildlife rehabber, Second Chance, was released at the sanctuary. She was younger than the other orphans Second Chance was raising, and she ended up imprinting a little on humans. So she followed us as we did our chores last week. She seemed to like Ben the best, and followed him around, running when she needed to catch up.
Poplar Spring is a wildlife sanctuary as well as a farmed animal sanctuary, and they often work with Second Chance. Especially for geese like Isa, who are a little imprinted on humans, the sanctuary is the perfect half-way home. There are wild geese in abundance, but there are also the unflighted canadian geese and domestic geese who are permanent residences. Isa will get to choose. She will learn what she needs to know about being a goose from the visiting geese, and if she decides to stay, she’ll have a safe place where people will look out for her.