Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Tag Archives: patty

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.


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!


Tender Moments, Bucket Challenges, and Nictitating Membranes

Remember when I talked about the Washington Post photographer who spent the morning with us, following Jonathan for an upcoming feature in the paper? It is to be published tomorrow (Saturday, April 14), but it’s already online. Check it out!

I especially liked the pictures he had of people with the animals. The one with Monty really struck a chord for me. It is so tender! Monty is a love.

Speaking of a tender moment, when I first arrived at the sanctuary last weekend, it was to this sight:

Jacob and Emliy

Jacob is the bigger one, and Emily is the blind cow who came a couple years ago. You can’t actually see it in the picture, but he was licking her neck. Very sweet!

In the pig yard we always joke around about practicing for the poop catching olympics. It’s a special talent to catch the poop in action, so to speak, and it’s quite efficient also to let the poop land on your rake and put it into the bucket, rather than having the ground as a middle man.

Ben upped the game last weekend. He caught Harley’s poop directly into the bucket!

Harley, and Ben's bucket

Pretty sure Harley is grinning.

And then little Patty, sneaking under a gate in the pig yard. She and her sister, Paige, as well as a couple of the older pigs who need a bit extra food, get fed extra in a section of the yard that can be gated shut, so that they can eat without fuss from the other pigs. Patty didn’t let something like a gate keep her in! When she was ready to go, she just scooted right out. (And then back in, and then back out!)

Patty scooting under the gate

She’s so cute. I think that she’ll lose the “curly” hair when she sheds her winter coat, but in the meantime, it is so adorable!

In the chicken yard, Dusty wandered by where Jonathan and I were petting Tilly. I take a lot of pictures of Dusty, I admit! This past year, my parents gave me a gift of two chicken sponsorships. I’d been asking for a sponsorship of an animal at the sanctuary for years, and they never went for it. This year, in frustration, I put nothing else on my wish list. I guess that did the trick!

I had to choose two chickens for the official sponsorship, and that was hard for me. I try to not have favorites. I love them all, and I want to get to know them all, and having favorites just feels wrong for me.

I decided on Alina right away (because who doesn’t want to cuddle that little ball of sweetness? but also because she’d had a bit of a fight with a rooster I’m sponsoring for my dad (they have the same name) and her eye was injured…) and then took about three months to decide on who else.

Finally, I decided on Dusty. I’m not really sure what went into that decision, other than I’d been focused on getting a nice picture of her for a few weeks, so she was on my mind.


And now that I’m sponsoring her, I notice her even more, which leads to taking more pictures of her.

As I looked at the pictures I’d gotten last weekend, I noticed that in one of them her nictitating membrane (aka “third eyelid”) was closed. This happens fairly often when taking pictures of the birds at the sanctuary, and it’s one of the reasons that I tend to take pictures on “burst mode” (also that they tend to dart around, and move their head very quickly). I usually just pass those pics by.

Dusty with her nictitating membrane closed

But then I saw that I had a third picture with the nictitating membrane only half closed! And that was pretty cool. The nictitating membrane is a very cool adaptation. I think it would come in handy on the bike as well, but humans aren’t so lucky!

Dusty with half-closed nictitating membrane

I didn’t find out Dusty’s story until after I started sponsoring her. She was found in back of an apartment complex. A woman heard peeping, which led her to Dusty, a tiny chick at the time. Luckily for Dusty, the woman took her in. There is very little chance she’d have survived the night – too many predators, too many dangers.

Though we don’t know Dusty’s story prior to her rescue, we do know that being dumped in a field is a very common fate for the hatching project chicks. Helpless on their own, they will approach anyone, hoping to be cared for. They won’t last even one night alone.

On our way back to our cars, Jonathan stopped to play with Josie again. It is so awesome to see them playing together! He’ll be out of town this weekend, but maybe we’ll be able to imitate him enough to satisfy Josie.

Jonathan and Josie

I took loads of pics, hoping some of them would come out. Hard to know what you’ll get when you have an active little lamb leaping all over the place! I was really excited I ended up with quite a few really nice ones, and a couple where Josie is completely in the air. Levitating!

Josie, levitating

Sheep Grins and The Turlock Hen Rescue

Adam's Grin

It was a sunny day at the sanctuary last Saturday, but very very windy. The wind made it cold for us humans, though most of the animals seemed to think it was just fine.

Adam is one of the friendlier sheep, bottle raised at the sanctuary from just a few days old, and thus more comfortable with humans than many of the sheep are. He’ll still move off with the herd, but he’s also one of the first to approach humans. Saturday was a good example.

Everyone loves to give Adam attention because if you pet him just right, he wags his tail. It’s a big disappointment when people don’t get the tail wag, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Adam holds out sometimes to make sure people keep trying, and thus keep petting him.


In the pig yard, I framed a shot to document how beautifully blue the sky was and how beautifully dry and smooth the pig yard was. That might sound odd to those who have not waded through thick clay mud or haven’t tried to spear frozen poo pellets out of frozen divots, so you’ll have to trust me – the pig yard was a beautiful thing last weekend! Of course as I took the picture little Patty came trotting over. I’m pretty sure she thought I might have a treat for her, but since I didn’t (and she sniffed the camera thoroughly to make sure), she trotted on past me.


The wind was so strong that we didn’t let any of the birds out into the chicken yard. Not that they would have wanted to be out there anyway with that wind! It gave me a chance to get an interesting pair of shots of Arthur, the younger peacock, inside the barn.

Most people think of brilliantly colored feathers when they think of peacocks. Fair enough, they do have brilliantly colored feathers…but only when the light is hitting them right. So this pair of pictures perfectly illustrates what a dramatic impact the light has on the appearance of their feathers.

Arthur, facing away from the sunlight

Same bird, same day, same camera settings, same sunlight, and I was in exactly the same place for each shot…the only difference is the direction Arthur was facing.

Arthur, facing into the sunlight

Kinda cool, isn’t it?

Up by the gift shop, Nobby came to see us with his two girls, followed by Nelson and his girl, Isa. Such odd couples, but who are we to argue with true love?

Isa in foreground; background (left to right): Nelson, Nobby, Nobby's two girls

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, an enormous rescue of over 4,000 hens took place after a farmer left “his” 50,000 egg-laying hens to starve to death when he could not afford to feed them. The Turlock Hen Rescue, as it has come to be known.

Animal Place took most of the hens, and Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary took a smaller number.

For perspective, at Poplar Spring the bird population hovers at around 60, if I recall correctly. That’s the number they’ve determined they can house based on the barn space that is available. As someone who helps clean the barns every Saturday, I can say that it’s a good amount of work.

4,000 is a number I can hardly comprehend.

Suffice to say that Animal Place especially (but the others who have taken some also) has their hands full. If you can help them out, now’s a good time to do so. Even if you can’t help out financially or in person, go read about the rescue, about the fifteen hens saved from the manure pit at the chicken farm, the hens going outside for the first time, and re-learning how to eat. And go vegan.

Their lives prior to rescue are beyond what any of us can truly imagine. But now that they are rescued we can start to imagine what the rest of their lives will look like, and it will be good. They are why we are vegan.

An August Sanctuary Update


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!