Today was one of those beautifully perfect days at the sanctuary. The weather was gorgeous – sunny with that somehow-more-interesting fall light. It was warm enough in the sun for short-sleeves, but almost chilly in the shade. Perfect, in other words.
The animals seemed to think so as well. The horses were frolicking, and there is something absolutely beautiful about watching a former racehorse run, just because she wants to run. It’s not something we see often.
We watched Dave feed the pigs. At Poplar Spring they do controlled feeding; arthritis gets to them all, but at least they are not carrying extra crushing weight on top of the arthritis. So feeding time is exciting for the pigs. When Dave called them for their breakfast, they all went running. Another something you don’t see very often when they are not babies.
A new bunny arrived a few weeks ago, and last weekend Elton was introduced to the other bunnies for the first time. He is already integrated quite comfortably with the others, which is great news. Bunnies don’t always get along with each other.
And as wonderful as all of that had been, the most exciting was yet to come.
Terry had asked us if one of us could make a trip to Second Chance to drop off a baby squirrel. A snake had been attacking a squirrel nest the day before, and the momma squirrel was literally tearing chunks out of the snake. Dave had to actually rescue the snake from the squirrel because he was pretty sure she was going to kill the snake. The snake was more than 6′ long. A huge snake.
A few hours later Terry was working at her computer and she could hear a baby crying. She investigated, and found the baby squirrel lying on the ground near their house – he had apparently fallen from the nest at some point in the fracas with the snake attacking the nest. The momma squirrel knew he was there, and could have carried him back up to the nest, but chose not to. Terry says she must have thought something was wrong with him, and there did seem to be something not quite right. She tried to feed him, and he threw up. She thought maybe he had a concussion. Since she didn’t know what to do for him, she wanted to get him to the experts.
And so we got to meet a little baby squirrel.
But he didn’t end up going to Second Chance. Lynn, a wildlife rehabber in Southern Maryland (Feathers and Friends, in Brandywine, which is in the general Annapolis area, she told me) had arrived to release a Canadian Goose who had a droopy wing and was blind in one eye.
She agreed to take the baby squirrel with her, which was great. She has some other squirrels around his same age (she thought around 6 weeks), so he will have siblings he can be raised with and released with.
She also had some other babies in the car with her, who couldn’t be left alone for as long as she knew she’d be gone to bring the goose up to Poplar Spring. One was a baby opossum. The woman who had actually rescued the opossum was with her. The momma had been on their porch, and when her husband had gone to let their dogs out (not knowing about the opossum), she startled and took off. The baby dropped off at that time, and the woman left the baby there for a long time hoping the momma would come back, but she never did. And so the baby was rescued and brought to the rehabber.
A bounty of absolute richness, was today.
And there is still more. When we had still been working in the chicken barn, Terry had gotten a call from a woman in Virginia. She had been at a produce market that rents animals from farmers every year. I suppose this produce market thus becomes more of an attraction? Regardless, the rented pregnant pig had her babies this morning. 14 piglets. One was crushed, and one was a tiny runt who was one-fifth the size of some of her littermates, and couldn’t get to a nipple, and was being stepped on by her siblings. The people running the market pulled her from the pen and assigned a new employee (who reportedly was vegan) the job of holding her and keeping her warm.
A woman and her daughter, visiting this produce market, took it upon themselves to save this newborn piglet, and so hours after the piglet was born, she was driven to Poplar Spring.
Is there anything cuter than a newborn piglet?
Now, there is no guarantee she will survive. They don’t know if she had any colostrum, the people at the market didn’t know where among the 14 piglets she had been born. If she was an early piglet, she most likely got some of that incredibly important colostrum. If not, maybe not.
She can live without it, but as most of us probably know, the colostrum is very important for a newborn’s immunity. Other newborns who have come to Poplar Spring in the past (a couple lambs, for instance; Hickory and Clover) were very sickly when they were young, very prone to infections, because they hadn’t gotten colostrum when they were first born.
Time will tell if this tiny baby survives, but one thing is for certain: without Poplar Spring, and without the quick action of the woman and her daughter who drove the piglet to the sanctuary, this little baby would have had no chance at all.
Of course, if she hadn’t been a tiny runt of a large litter and thus in need of immediate extra help, her life would have been that of every animal doomed in the hands of a human profiting from them, and from their death.