Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Tag Archives: piglet

New Arrivals: Pygmy Goats and Isaac the Piglet

Jake helping with the calendar

Jake helping with the calendar edits

Between travels and working on the calendars for the sanctuary, I’ve neglected the blog!

The calendars are now done, and a batch has been ordered to get here in time for the Open House, on October 7. It always feels good to get the calendar done – it’s a much bigger project than it seems like it would be! I’ll post a link to where they can be bought online soon.

Almost two weeks ago two new goats arrived at the sanctuary. They are pygmys, which means they are very small – even smaller than you’d imagine! Even knowing ahead of time that they were tiny, I was still surprised when I saw them.

Napoleon and Sebastian

Napoleon (looking at the camera) and Sebastian

Napoleon is full grown, and about the height of a water bucket. He is wary of people, but I think he’ll come around pretty quickly. He seemed more interested-but-wary than freaked out when we peeked into their quarrantine stall last Saturday, and today he was letting Terry touch him to a limited degree. Sebastian is only 6 months old, and he seems to be used to being held already. He certainly didn’t mind all the chin scratches he was getting!

They came from a hoarding case, where the man who had them seemed to be collecting animals. They were malnourished and riddled with internal and external parasites, living in a room with a strange group of animals – cats, dogs, snakes, birds, and even a kinkajou. (I hadn’t even heard of a kinkajou until Terry told the story. They are a mammal from Australia.)

The other recent arrivals from a hoarding case, The Nine, are settled in and doing really well. So far, they have remained a group, and can generally be found with each other. I haven’t made much progress learning their names so far, I only know a few! And four of the Nine are buff girls who look almost identical. I know one is Cindy…she was the friendly one when they first arrived, but now they’re used to people being treat dispensers, so they’re all pretty friendly!

A few of the nine

A few of the nine…Frankie is the one in the middle with the dark fluffy head.

Carole and Ziona, the weekday staff in the chicken yard, will be able to help me learn their names when I see them at the Open House. I’m sure they already can tell the buff girls apart!

After chores were over last Saturday, Terry dragged a fallen tree branch from the parking area to the goat yard so she could throw it over the fence on the far side of the goat yard, into the forest. The leaves on the fallen branch were completely dead, not something she thought the goats would be interested in, but from their reaction you’d think that it was the best treat in the world!

goats and dead leaves

The goats running to get the dead leaves

They started rushing toward the goat yard’s gate as soon as they saw Terry heading there with the branch. Once she had the gate open, she could hardly get through because they were already starting to eat the leaves!

Taking a wild guess, we can only conclude that goats love dried leaves from walnut trees.

goats munching on the dead leaves

The goats munching on the dead leaves

If you follow Poplar Spring on facebook, you probably saw the update this past week about the new piglet, Isaac. He is actually a wild pig, was rescued from the flood waters of Hurricane Isaac, and was cared for by Rescue Ranch. One of the long-term PSAS volunteers happened to be down there helping care for animals impacted by the hurricane, and he facilitated little Isaac’s move to PSAS. He even cancelled his flight home so he could drive Isaac all the way (18 hours!).

When I saw his picture, I thought he looked like a Duroc – three pigs who were rescued a couple years ago are Durocs, and he looks a lot like them. I mentioned it to Terry, and she agreed. She thinks that there were some domestic pigs that were released years back, and Isaac is one of their descendants. So, a wild pig, but a domestic breed.

Isaac is so cute! Very sweet and friendly, rolls over for belly rubs already. He isn’t phased by much of anything. He came down to the chicken yard with us, and he had a great time exploring and rooting. The chickens and turkeys and peacock were very very interested in him, but a bit scared of him too. They’d gather around to watch him, and then scatter with alarm calls when he turned toward them.

I got some video!


Morty & Izzy: 4 week old update

Izzy and Morty are doing great. They’re growing quickly, especially Morty. Terry is still feeding them every 3 hours, and is begging them to start eating solid food, to no avail. They won’t even drink their formula from a dish, only from the bottle! Bad piggies!

They are 4 weeks old today. That means Terry has not gotten a solid night sleep for 28 days straight!

It is so interesting to watch them play at this age – they play in similar ways to puppies. Today they were entertained by pieces of paper towel, which they would pick up in their mouths and then shake their heads. We’ve all seen puppies do the exact same thing!

When Izzy and Morty play with each other, Izzy gets pushed around by Morty. But he doesn’t seem to be bothered by it, and in fact Izzy is often the instigator. He’s feisty, he’s a fighter. Terry thinks it is a miracle that Izzy has survived, given how delicate he was, and really still is, and given some of the problems he had at the beginning. But he’s a fighter. We always come back to that. He has such a strong will to live, it seems to have helped him overcome some pretty dismal odds.

I think about that will of his, that strength, that determination. It seems significant in him, because he had long odds to overcome from day one. Really, that will to live is the same in all of the animals at the sanctuary. It is the same in all animals everywhere. It is really hard for me to understand why more people don’t respect that. Why they don’t appreciate it, why the answer isn’t “yes, let them live,” but is instead “I don’t care as long as they taste good.”

What is that about?

Go vegan, world. Compassion is a beautiful thing.

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.

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.