Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Spring at the Sanctuary

Marius's seduction technique

Marius is a trip. He’s been checked for (ahem) hidden testosterone producers several times, but he’s definitely not an intact male, yet he is fairly relentless when it comes to his pursuit of the ladies. He’ll chase all of the other male goats away, while also chasing after the girls with his weird tongue waggle.

A video from about a year ago gives you the benefit of hearing him too!

Sometimes he’ll do a sort of snorting sneeze, which in goats can be part of the seduction routine, or can just mean they’re happy. My google skills aren’t up to par tonight, because I can’t find much in the way of articles on this type of goat behavior (or maybe I need to use a different search engine now that google is evil?), but I did run across this very interesting article on Goats and Cows, written by Maneka Gandhi and published by an Animal Welfare organization in India. It does talk about the goat sneezes, as well as the tongue waggling, but it also talks about their personalities, and it makes some important connections.

How odd that we value our dogs so much but we do not think twice before eating goats – which are kept like pets all over the world and are as intelligent, loyal and emotional as them. Goats are very often not given credit for being the smart and loving creatures they actually are. Think of them like dogs, except they don’t have the “I must please humans” thing that dogs have.

It is not for nothing that human children are called kids – a term that means baby goat. Baby goats love playing hide and seek. They crawl into little hidey holes and will lie very quiet and jump about squealing when you find them. They “explore their world” with their mouths just like human babies “chewing” and “mouthing” things to learn about them. They love climbing. Family members let their babies jump and climb on them. If you let them climb on you, you are considered family some of the activities enjoyed by kids include galloping, jumping vertically into the air, tossing their heads, and whirling around.

The same article talks about cows, describing their intelligence and personalities. But also:

When you next have a steak or wear new leather shoes, remember that this cow could articulate her pain. We are just not smart enough to understand her voice. John Webster, professor of animal husbandry at Bristol, has just published a book on the topic, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden. “People have assumed that because animals have smaller brains they suffer less than humans. That is a pathetic piece of logic,” he says.

[…]

Every time you choose to buy leather or drink milk you kill a gentle intelligent sensitive being. Cows are not just oblivious, cud chewing milk machines – those terms can be more aptly applied to so many humans instead.

Aggie

Aggie herself is an example of both aspects talked about the in article. Her breed is (or was originally) used for both milk and meat. Terry’s intro for Aggie (from when she first arrived, a few months back):

Aggie, our newest rescue, is a young Red short horn calf. She most likely escaped from the livestock auction, because she appeared at a home about a mile from the auction on sale day, as a tiny one month old calf. It seems she followed the railroad tracks to a farm where luckily a kind woman made the efforts to find her a sanctuary home. The local sheriff’s dept. and animal control wanted to take her and sell her for slaughter, but the woman kept her safe for several months until she was tame enough to lead onto a trailer. We picked her up yesterday, and she is very friendly and sweet, she loves to lick people. We can’t wait to introduce her to the other rescued cows, and here she will be able to spend the rest of her life in peace and happiness.

The pig yard was in great shape – we always end up talking about the pig yard conditions, because it makes a huge difference in how hard or easy it is to clean the pig yard. Last week was perfect. And as I scooped, I had a chance to get a picture of the cutest pig nose in the world.

Paige

Paige came with another little piglet, Patty, about 9 months ago, and they both have curly (for pigs) hair for their winter coat! It’s adorable.

Here’s the video from when they first arrived:

Aren’t they cute? They are still the littlest ones at the sanctuary!

Now that I’ve spent some time with Brenda Lee, I notice her right away. It’s funny how that happens – what used to be the general group of “beta barn girls” to me, are now distinct hens who I distinguish easily, though I don’t know their names yet.

And that’s the essence of an awakening to the individuality of others, isn’t it? All it takes is that small starting point, noticing, recognizing, and suddenly a whole new vista opens up. It’s a mirror of the awakening we go through when we realize that we must go vegan.

Julius and Brenda Lee

Spring in the DC area is very pretty (if you don’t have allergies) with lots of flowering plants and trees. Last week was the peak of the Cherry Blossoms, which is a pretty big deal because there are so many of them – something like 3700 just in the Tidal Basin area of DC itself, and many more all over the DC metro area. Most of the ones I see are planted as part of landscaping in people’s yards, or bordering developments. There is only one at the sanctuary (that I have seen – I haven’t walked through the woods to see if there are others!), and it is a wild cherry tree.

I don’t know enough about cherry trees to be able to talk about them in great detail, but I do know that most of the ones I see – the ones that are part of the landscaping – are more like the ones down in the Tidal Basin – the ones gifted by Japan. There are many species of cherry tree, however, and some of them are native to North America, as the wild cherry tree at the sanctuary is.

It just so happened that Dexter was wandering around down near the wild cherry tree, so I wanted to try to get a portrait of him with the blooming cherry tree in the background. It was a marginal success. An overcast day, a horse who wasn’t really with the whole “hold still and pose” program…well, you’ll have to trust my word that the vague fluffy white stuff on the upper left side of the picture is, indeed, the wild cherry tree’s blossoms!

Dexter

As we were leaving after chores, I stopped to take a picture of four recent arrivals – domestic geese whose story I have forgotten for the moment. As I knelt there, this Canadian goose walked up to me. I imagine she was hoping I had something tasty for her, instead of just a big clunky camera!

So cute, with all that grass on her beak!

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One response to “Spring at the Sanctuary

  1. Provoked March 30, 2012 at 7:24 am

    As usual – Love these photos! You capture their wonderful essence just right!

    Marius certainly is a trip! That one wild horn almost qualifies him to be a “unicorn”! Aggie is gorgeous!
    And yes, Paige does have a perfect nose for what she needs it for playing with the rope… Julius, Brenda Lee, Dexter and the un-named goose are all visions of what makes a welcome spring day even better!

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