Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Tag Archives: elton

Snowy Day at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary

Yesterday morning produced a half inch of snow – just enough for pretty pictures at the sanctuary without much of an impact on the roads.

Most of the animals are just fine with the cold winter weather. The older and very young individuals need a little extra help – the goats who need them get winter coats, the pigs who need them get heat lamps and of course have lots of hay to snuggle under – and the birds don’t want anything to do with the snow on the ground and are happy for the heat lamps over their perches, but the cows and sheep and horses and mules all seem to enjoy it when it’s a bit colder out.

Malcolm, who arrived the day before the Open House in late September and who was rescued when he was found on the side of a busy highway at just 3 months old, is growing up fast. He’s one of the sweetest goats, and is great friends with Rocky, who arrived not long before Malcolm. As fellow volunteer Sheryl said when she saw this picture, “What I enjoy about Malcolm, other than his ridiculous cuteness, is that he’ll get really close to my face and just touch me with his little nose.”

A sweetheart. Still independent in the way of goats, and with a youngster’s exuberance he’s likely to be jumping into the wheelbarrow as we work, or climbing on top of the pigs as they sleep, or getting into the empty-but-for-some-crumbs feeding devices for the cows. Trouble of a sort!

In the pig yard, Petey convinced Ryan to give him a belly rub. He started out by coming to stand right next to Ryan, and when getting in between Ryan’s rake and bucket worked to get Ryan to pet him, he started stretching until he finally flopped over onto his side for a belly rub. The snow didn’t seem to bother him at all! Or maybe belly rubs are just that much more important.

A couple weeks ago he carried some hay out of the barn and dropped it right in the middle of where some of the volunteers were cleaning. They were new volunteers and didn’t know quite what to make of it when Petey then laid down on his mini bed. Terry told them that Petey was asking for a belly rub, at which they exclaimed in surprise, “he’s just like a dog!”

They can act like dogs, for certain. I think that every domesticated animal “acts like a dog” in some ways – that is, their dependence on humans encourages certain behaviors. They’ll beg for treats, and even do tricks of a sort. They’ll ask for attention. Of course they are like dogs in other ways too – they are able to feel pain and pleasure, suffering and joy. They don’t have to be lap dogs for us to not hurt them, to let them live free of harm, free of exploitation.

Gloria is an example of an animal who is not typically killed for food, but who is exploited just the same. She, and her companion Hal, were rescued from a petting zoo type operation, where they were often punished by tying their heads to their feet. Yesterday Glora was sticking her tongue out at us, but mostly she does like people. This is surprising considering the abuse she received at the hands of her former owner, but at the same time, I see it as a symptom of domestication. Even when abused, even if they do end up fearful of humans, they are still dependent on us.

Darcy continues to do quite well adapting to his blindness. Tally still wears a halter with a bell, and most of the time Darcy sticks quite close to her. Once in a while he gets separated from her. Sometimes this happens right after they’re let out of the horse barn, and when I’m there I am usually the one to lead Darcy to Tally. Last weekend was one of those times. I am touched by the trust it takes for a blind horse to be led along by a human. There is often some hesitation along the way, but once we get close to Tally he relaxes and then sticks to her like velcro.

They were both racehorses, both were rescued from auction where they would have been sold for horsemeat. Hearing this tends to shock people, because in this country horses aren’t food. Horse slaughterhouses were shut down based on the delicate sensibilities of meat-eaters, and there is some sense of violation on their part when they learn that horses are instead shipped to other countries to be slaughtered instead. Yet these same people will continue to eat beef, which leads to wild horses being rounded up and killed to make room for cattle to graze.

Apparently it is one thing to prevent others from sending horses to slaughterhouses, but something else entirely to change their own behavior.

The bunnies weren’t much bothered by the cold either. Elton and Twinkle were pretty much in the food bowl as they ate. Usually they are napping when we get down there, but the cold seems to invigorate them a bit. They’ve got some pretty serious winter coats.

I forgot to mention it earlier on this blog, though you might have seen it on twitter or facebook or the other blog, but the 2011 Poplar Spring Calendar is available through lulu. (25% off through 1/31/2011 11:59PM with the coupon code WINTERFOTO355.)


A tortilla chip post

pinky, twinkle, and elton at psas

did you know that bunnies like to play in the snow?

Tortilla chips are simply vehicles for salsa. And this post is a tortilla chip for the latest Izzy & Morty video salsa. So, a tortilla chip post.

The wind this week has stolen most of my thoughts, so I’m just going to post a few completely random links and pictures and the video.

I read “Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly” recently, and I posted about it over on Animal Rights & AntiOppression. Well, I posted about part of the book. It’s a bit much for just one post. I might post about the organic agriculture issue later. What I talked about in that particular post was the Locavore issue of Food Miles. And from a sustainability perspective, he decimates the “sustainable meat” argument. If you ever talk to Locavores, go read that post, and then go read his book. Or tell your Locavore friends to read his book.

jason at psas

we got a lot of snow a couple weeks ago!

More on the environmental ammunition side, Mary posted “On Soy, Soybeans and Mixed Messages“, which is a must-read if you’ve ever had a meat eater get on your case about the soy you eat and its connection to rainforest deforestation.

And Sea Shepherd’s “Bob Barker” has the whalers on the run!

edward and the new peacock at psas

Edward and his new buddy are getting along!

A few months ago, a great zine was published by Microcosm called Sick. “Sick collects peoples’ experiences with illness to help establish a collective voice of those impacted by illness within radical/left/DIY communities. The zine is meant to be a resource for those who are living with illness as well as those who have not directly experienced it themselves. Contributors discuss personal experiences as well as topics such as receiving support, providing support, and being an informed patient. These writings are meant to increase understandings of illness and further discussion as well as action towards building communities of care.”

wilbur snuggled in the hay

wilbur shows us how to stay warm when it is cold

As it happens, a friend of mine was one of the contributors, with a great piece on living with migraines. I’ve had a lot of friends who have suffered from migraines, and it has made me very sensitive to a common misuse of the term by people who either don’t understand the difference between a migraine and a headache, or simply want to dramatize their own discomfort by claiming a migraine. That’s the least of it, though, and I found Brittany’s article to be a really good read.

The whole compilation was a good read; I recommend it to everyone.

penelope at psas

penelope's secret smoking habit is revealed!

Avatar is a film that is getting a lot of attention and breaking a lot of records at the box office. It is also, apparently, a recruiting film for eco-terrorists! (Of course Hoot and Charlotte’s Web are both soft-core eco-terrorism films for kids. Good thing we have these eagle-eyed people keeping an eye out for dangerous radical ideas like, say, not completely destroying the earth! That can’t be a good thing. Right?)

And finally, the salsa: 1:33 minutes of Izzy and Morty:

An extra-ordinary fall day at Poplar Spring

chelsea being goofy at ps

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.

feeding time for the pigs at ps

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.

elton at ps

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.

baby squirrel who fell from a nest at ps

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.

feathers and friends goose

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.

baby opossum being rehabbed by feathers and friends

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.

newborn piglet at ps

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.

newborn piglet hand fed at ps

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.

newborn piglet being hand fed at ps

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.