Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Tag Archives: harley

Heat Wave at Poplar Spring

Tilly, cooling off in a foot bath

Tilly, cooling off in a foot bath

The record-setting heat-wave is old news by now, and thankfully the heat has broken on the east coast (the southwest is in for it now). At the front end of the heat wave, we had an unusual-for-the-area derecho storm rip through (June 29), causing millions of people to be without power for days, a few thousand for more than a week. I was one who lost power (friday night – tuesday afternoon), and the sanctuary also lost power (friday night – monday afternoon). Luckily they have a generator so they could run the water pump (essential when you are caring for 200 animals!) and a couple people lent them smaller generators so they could run the fans for all the animals too. So the animals were pretty comfortable (as comfortable as it ever is in the high 90’s and high humidity), and luckily there was no damage from the derecho winds.

This past weekend, when it hit 105 on Saturday, was the tail end of the heat-wave. A few weeks ago they’d set up a hose with the nozzle set on mist, and aimed at the mud puddle in the pig yard as a “cooling station” for the pigs. It was very popular, as you might imagine!

Cooling station in the pig yard at psas

Cooling Station

When I walked by on Saturday, I was happy to see that Harley was one of the pigs in the cooling station. He’s one of the younger pigs, and definitely low in the pecking order, so if another pig had wanted his spot, he’d have moved.

Harley at the cooling station


Dave was walking by too, and as I stopped to take pictures of Harley and the other pigs, he aimed the spray right at Harley’s head.

It was amazing. Harley, whose ears usually are covering his eyes, put his ears back and just leaned into the spray with a look of bliss.

Harley blissing at the cooling station


As we were picking up in the pig yard, some people arrived with a new goose resident, Duchess. She followed them as they came to visit in the pig yard, but she seemed a bit confused as to where she actually wanted to be. After she came rushing in the pig yard through the gate, she then tried to get out again through the fence. She was getting agitated, so I picked her up and carried her across the pig yard toward the duck pond.

Duchess on the duck pond at psas

Duchess on the duck pond at psas

Terry held the gate for me, and we brought Duchess down to the pond and stayed with her while she got in and swam around a bit. As she cooled down and calmed down, Roxanne, the youngest pig, joined us, having escaped out the gate we’d opened to bring Duchess through.

I got some apples from the barn and tried to bribe her back through, but she wasn’t too interested. Forget cooling stations and creeks, here was a pond!

She wandered around the perimeter a bit before walking in. She was so cute, sticking her whole head in the water at times, blowing bubbles, and rooting on the bottom of the pond. Talk about bliss!

Roxanne in the duck pond at psas

Roxanne in the duck pond at psas

I took some video, and was convinced to put the entire almost-8 minutes on vimeo.

Roxanne in the duck pond

A reporter showed up while we were doing the cow pies – he had contacted Terry to set up an interview so he could do an article on the animals and the heat. Roxanne had come back to the pig yard by then, so he missed seeing that cuteness in person, but Dave and Terry had me show him some of the pictures I took of her in there. He was interested in using a pic and linking to the video for his article, so I sent him a few that evening. He ended up using the one of Harley blissing out with the spray of water. It ran online in the Washington Post on Sunday, and in the print version on Monday!

So out of the blue, I got a picture published in the paper!

The hot days in summer are when the animals are the most lethargic (and I include humans – we definitely move slower on these hot days), so they’re often pretty dry in terms of photo ops. It just happened that we’d had a couple super cute photo ops that day – we couldn’t have done better if we’d planned and schemed to get photo ops for the article!

Our favorite quote from the article:

As I watched Terry round up Tilly the turkey and deposit her feet into the bath, it occurred to me that Terry was one of those people who made it impossible to measure yourself against: You can never be so good.

Terry is probably embarrassed that we keep quoting that one sentence, but it’s the truth for both Terry and Dave, so we’ll keep quoting it!

roxanne in the duck pond at psas



Clover and Harley: Timely Interventions

one of these is not like the others...

I read a lot, mostly fiction, and over the past five years or so I’ve noticed the occasional vegan character creeping in. Of course they’re always portrayed negatively, or at least ignorantly. The people writing the books are clueless about veganism, about animal rights, about what it would be like to BE a person acting on these ethics…and so they have the most superficial portrayal, filled with every stupid stereotype you can imagine.

I have gotten to the point where I won’t read a book that I know has a vegan character, because I know how poorly portrayed that character will be. (What’s wrong with doing research, eh, authors?)

But when I heard about Marla Rose’s recently published book, I definitely wanted to read it. A vegan character written BY a vegan is a whole other ballgame! I had a momentary hesitation upon learning that it was a YA book – I’ve read some and loved some, but YA isn’t what I gravitate toward. But I got it and read it anyway, and I’m glad I did.

I wrote a review over at Animal Rights & AntiOppression: “Review: The Adventures of Vivian Sharpe, Vegan Superhero“.


Clover was bottle-raised at the sanctuary from the time he was just a couple days old. He was abandoned by his mother, and the (local small family) farmer was just going to leave him to die. Instead, he was brought to the sanctuary.

Since he was raised by people at the sanctuary, he is less wary of humans than many of the sheep are. But a smart sheep is still one who sticks to the herd most of the time, so if something alarms the herd and they start moving off, he’ll go with them. However, when the herd is comfortable, he will often come over to investigate us. Possibly hoping for treats!


Harley is almost all grown up now, at 3.5 years old.

His rescue story no longer shows up on the links, which is a shame. Wish I’d thought to stick it in a document offline! But the basics of his story showcase how lucky he was – on his way to auction as a tiny baby, he fell off the transport truck, was rescued by people who have an education center of some kind, but who didn’t have the room for a full grown pig, and so his fate might have been a slaughterhouse in the end if it weren’t for random visitors to the education center who contacted Poplar Spring and facilitated the rescue and helped with the transport.

Uri, a Golden Pheasant. I've been trying for ages to get a decent picture of this guy!

The details of Uri’s story isn’t known. Mostly I wanted to post a picture of him because it has taken me the better part of a year to get a picture worth posting! Shy and fast…

Now, for something super-cute – a video of Jonathan and Josie playing! Josie does a few jump-and-kicks for your viewing pleasure.

Sanctuary update, August 08, 2009

Hannah was so cute on Saturday. As the three of us walked up to the quarantine barn, her little head popped up in the screened window of her stall. “Meh-eh-eh-eh,” she called out to us, though I think it was Terry she was really happy to see. Terry’s been spending a couple hours a day just hanging out with Hannah so she doesn’t get too lonely, and it’s created a clear bond between them.

She was perky, and at least to my eyes it looked like she had put on some much needed weight since last weekend. She is eating grain now, which she hadn’t been interested in at all last week, and she’s clearly wanting to get out into the bigger world. That’s maybe the biggest change from last week; if I was to interpret her attitude, I’d say that she’s learned that she has good things to look forward to at the sanctuary. She has hope, but more than that, she has expectations of enjoyment, of pleasure, of just being herself. Her goat personality is starting to shine through.

As we left, she stood on her hind legs to watch us through the screened window again. They’re having her checked again on Monday for parasites, to see if she can get at least some limited social time with the other goats. They’re still worried that she should put on more weight first – some of the goats (the bad boys, Lenny and Jeremy, but also a few others) love to head butt, and she might not be strong enough yet for that kind of rough-housing.

Wilbur is now standing and walking on his own! He was tuckered out from all the walking Dave had had him do in the morning, so he wasn’t interested in standing or walking by the time we got over there (not even for a banana-bribe!) but he’s been doing so well that they’re going to soon let him into the big pig yard for about an hour a day to see how he does. He needs to build up strength, and being with the other pigs will likely help him do that, push him a bit. They let his brother, Patrick, out to spend time with him last week, and they apparently went to a mud hole and lounged together, with Wilbur happily nibbling on Patrick’s ear. Wish I could have seen that! It was so nice to hear that their brother-bond is still strong, despite this month and a half of separation.

Jolene is also doing quite well. She’s still in the “infirmary” portion of the pig barn, but she’s been going out and walking and grazing, and appears to be feeling pretty good.

Harley hung out with us for a few minutes. It is amazing to think of how much he’s grown. He’s big enough now that we do a double-take, and say “is that Harley?” And then we look for his black nose to assure ourselves that it is, indeed, Harley. He’s as sweet as ever.

Down in the chicken yard, we watched Robin for a while. She is from the group of 5 While Leghorns who came as days old chicks, found in a grocery store parking lot in Silver Springs, MD, and we call her a girl out of habit. In her early days she would make nests, but her visual and behavioral characteristics split the difference between a rooster and a hen now. She’s a mystery to us.

To the other chickens, there is either no mystery to them, or it simply doesn’t matter. Or both. She’s part of the flock. What else really matters?

Harley and Piglet

Yesterday was one of those days at the sanctuary where we had so many people helping (about a dozen girl scouts, in addition to the normal crew) that we got done super fast. I felt like I hardly did anything at all!

I did spend some time inside the pig barn, where Harley was in his pen. The new pigs always spend time there at first – they can interact with the other pigs, without being right in the middle of everything. And Harley is just too little to be with the big pigs quite yet.

He has his water, which is now a bowl nested inside a tire, since he’d apparently been a rambunctious boy. He has lots of fresh hay, a blanket to snuggle on, a heating lamp to make him warm, and … piglet.

Harley and Piglet

Harley and Piglet

Piglet is something of a legend by now, his restuffed and restitched body having been a companion to many of the baby pigs who have arrived at the sanctuary. I’m not sure, but I think that someone brought Piglet when Peapod first arrived at the sanctuary, about two years ago. I should ask, to jog my memory.

When I made a quick post about Harley last weekend, one of the people who facilitated his rescue ended up finding my post and commenting. I thought that was pretty cool. I told Terry and Dave about it yesterday morning, and we talked more about that part of the rescue. Shana commented again on the Harley post, with a link to the story that she wrote about the rescue.

And it really amazes me. Harley is triply lucky, really. He fell off a transport truck, and lived. He was rescued by people who were kind, though his role with them seemed to be something between a pet and a money maker. Shana described their business as an education center, and she doesn’t go into detail about what Harley’s fate was going to be once he got too big for his first rescuers to handle. But from what Terry and Dave told me, the original plan had been for him to be sent to slaughter when he was too big for the first rescuers to have at their education center.

So the third piece of Harley’s luck was in having Shana visit the education center. She asked questions, and learned the truth. Shana had lived in the DC area, and already knew about Poplar Spring, so she was able to save Harley, and help him come to Poplar Spring.

The details make it clear how precarious his situation was, and how amazing it is that he is safe, now.

It is also a really wonderful reminder that each of us can make that kind of difference – life or death – to others. We never know when we’ll be in a situation where asking the right questions and noticing the right details can save someone’s life. We should know that it is always a possibility.

Thanks to Shana and her husband for helping to rescue precious Harley, thanks to Shana’s friend Deena for lending them the Jeep so they could get Harley to the place they were to meet Dave, and thanks to Terry and Dave of Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary and to every other animal sanctuary out there for making sure that there are safe places.