Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Tag Archives: paige

Bonds Among Rescued Farm Animals

Rocky is one of the sweetest goats. He came to us when he was found, abandoned, wandering along a highway. He has some kind of disease that will cause him to get arthritis early. It’s possible that he was abandoned on the side of the road for that reason.

Rocky

He loves attention, and if you scratch his back in just the right spot, he will wag his tail!

Patty and Paige came to us 13 months ago when they were just a few months old. They were found as strays (!) in DC. Here’s a video I found from when they first arrived!

We don’t know their stories prior to being found as strays, but there’s something about the bond that pigs form when they arrive together, they tend to stick together for much of their lives.

Last weekend the mud puddle was pretty healthy, and there were several pigs lounging in it, enjoying themselves. Patty and Paige showed up, and though there was plenty of room for them to have spread out, they chose to lay down right next to each other!

patty and paige in the mud puddle

Patty and Paige

Another group that came together, and have stuck together, are Sprital and his fellow Bantams, Lindy and Mindy. They were rescued after Katrina, found in a yard of a destroyed barn. Most of the animals had died in the storm, but Sprital and a few others were alive. They were brought to Poplar Spring, and they’ve stuck together ever since.

Sprital, Lindy and Mindy

Sprital, Lindy and Mindy

I often wondered if it was because Bantams are a miniature breed, thinking that they had a sort of sub-culture in the chicken society, but Alina – the little bantam hen who loves to be held (unlike the Katrina survivors) – has never really associated with Sprital’s group.

Nine new hens arrived last week from a hoarding situation. The woman who had been keeping them in her backyard ended up in the hospital unable to care for them any longer. They went from a small (and apparently very dirty and ill-kept) enclosure, to the sanctuary’s chicken yard with all that grass and dirt and bugs and other chickens.

One of the nine new hens

One of the nine new hens

It will be interesting to see if these nine tend to stick together!

I’m really glad that the Open House is coming up in a couple months – on October 7th – so I’ll have a chance to ask Carole and Ziona, the weekday staff in the chicken yard, about where the nine new hens end up in the social structure! Hopefully by then I’ll know their names too – that gives me about 6 Saturdays of asking Terry each week!

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!

An August Sanctuary Update

Sheldon

For those wondering about the sanctuary after last week’s Hurricane Irene, everyone is doing fine. The sanctuary got a bunch of rain and some not-very-bad winds, but nothing severe.

The rain made some puddles that the pigs and ducks and geese are enjoying! Terry said that the puddle in the pig yard was deep enough that the babies, Patty and Paige, were swimming in it! I wish I had seen that. Maybe someone got pictures, it sounds too cute to miss!

Two weeks ago there was a baby-sized mud puddle that they were enjoying.

Imagine them swimming in this mud puddle, which I imagine was even deeper after Irene than it was two weeks ago:

Truman enjoying a siesta in a mud puddle

The newest goat, Sadie, is in with all the other goats now. She’d spent a while in quarantine getting healthy, as is often the case for newcomers, especially the adults. She is at least 6 years old, but she’s tiny, so it’s hard not to think of her as a baby. She’s great friends with Malcolm, and I saw them head-butting each other last weekend in play, but it was more like head-pressing. They had their heads down, and it looked like they were just resting their heads together!

Sadie is not comfortable with people, though after a month of Terry and Dave working with her, she is much better than when she first arrived. I saw her for the first time two weeks ago, when Terry brought her down from quarantine to spend time with the big group of goats. She pranced down the hill like a little princess! Now she’s with the goats full time, and she seemed both curious and wary of people. The curious part means she will likely be comfortable getting some attention from people eventually. It takes time to gain their trust, which is no surprise. The surprise for me is that they can ever trust humans at all, after what they go through before they arrive at the sanctuary!

Little Josie, the blind lamb, is doing really well. She is figuring her little world out, and can be seen jumping around and playing at times. They think she might be have limited hearing as well as limited vision, but she’ll do great once she’s big enough to be in the full herd of sheep.

I think it is really lucky that the three blind animals at the sanctuary are herd animals. In addition to Josie, there is Darcy and Emily. Darcy is an older horse who went blind slowly as he aged. He generally does really well sticking with the other two horses and two mules, and one of the horses, Tally, wears a halter with a bell to make it easier for him. Once in a while he gets separated from them, but usually he’s right there with them.

And Emily, the young cow, was adopted by Heidi, and though Emily has always done a great job making her way through her world, Heidi will help her stay with the herd by going back for her, mooing at her, and generally pestering Emily (who is quite independent!) just like a mother with a stubborn teenager!

Josie will be comforted to be in a herd of sheep. In many ways they can use those around them to compensate for the senses they might not have. I see this with my deaf cat, Jake. He watches the reactions of the other cats to help him figure out what might be going on in his world. Their ability to compensate is pretty remarkable. Jake has lived with me for 1.5 years now, and I still find myself talking to him, forgetting he can’t hear me!

2011 Poplar Spring Farm Tour is almost here…

Last year it got up to 102 degrees during the annual Montgomery County Farm Tour, which Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary participates in. It was hot, and humid, and yet still lots of people came to see the farm and the animals. Last summer was a record-tying hot summer, so it wasn’t that surprising that we had a really hot day on the day of the farm tour.

This year we’ve had a pretty mild summer, and I’ve been happily thinking about the fact that it won’t be 102 on the day of the Farm Tour. And so, guess what? Last weekend was in the low to mid 80′s, but this weekend, the weekend of the Farm Tour, it will be 100 or hotter!

Figures, right?

But it will be worth going if you’re in the area, because last Friday two new piglets arrived! Patty and Paige are around 7 weeks old, and cute as can be.

If you do come, I’ll be in the chicken yard, as usual. Look for me there!

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