Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary, 17 Barker Road, Lebanon, CT, 06249

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Majestic Diary

February 25, 2012

Today was a rough day. We went to help out with a situation of too many ducks. The owner is really sweet and loves her animals, but things have just gotten too out of hand and she can't care for them properly anymore. We volunteered to help another local farm sanctuary identify gender and breeds while getting an accurate head count and doing a precursory medical check on everyone.

There were 90 ducks and 7 geese plus a whole bunch of chickens, probably 50-60 of them.

The chickens and geese were doing much better than the ducks who, without access to enough clean bathing water, have terrible feather quality, zero waterproof effectiveness, and are not properly insulated from the cold. Poor darlings were shivering...

In addition there were a lot of foot infections (bumblefoot on a few) and eye irritations because the ducks couldn't properly wash the mud and fecal matter out of their feathers around their face.

The other shelter is supposed to go back next weekend to muck out the two sheds and lay down hay and then put down farmer's sand in the pens and come up with a better water source for the ducks. I truly hope they carry through with this... I hope they make it a priority.

At one point they questioned me and tried to make me feel guilty because we opted to only take one duck and one goose to start (while they took seven). I asked how many acres they were on--how much pasture they have, and they replied 18 acres of pens. I gasped and then made it quite clear that they have PLENTY of room (a lot more pen space than we do) to build a temporary pen in one of their pastures (they  already have a $1000 donation from the Humane Society to help) and could take ALL of the animals if they put their minds and hearts into it. But they obviously don't want to do that... (this is a sanctuary that has a $500,000 annual budget).

Funny thing was, there were cameras (Yale film project) on us when I said this to them and they caught the whole thing.

The other annoying thing was the woman in charge kept complaining about how busy she was and that this isn't the only thing on her list to do. I finally looked at her at one point and said, "at least you're getting paid for it. Our flock doesn't pay us. We do all this on a voluntary basis."

She also had absolutely no training at all on how to deal with this situation. She was really judgmental with the owner and often rude with her. The owner doesn't have to do anything, she's agreeing to help because she loves her animals, but she can pull the plug at any time and order them off of her property and this woman didn't seem to grasp the reality of this. She could blow it at any time with her obvious impatience with the situation.

Me? I'm not there to judge anyone. Tony and I counted ducks, worked with the owner to identify breeds and history and genders and then advised on how the pens could be managed until the numbers are reduced. We want this person to call us if she needs help or has questions, not to feel uncomfortable around us--how is that supposed to help anyone--especially the animals. It was pretty uncomfortable to be around. Fortunately, she found plenty of excuses to disappear. Half the time we'd look around and she wasn't anywhere to be found--off on her phone again.

However, her helper was wonderful. She had a really good attitude and was ready to help out with the clean up the following weekend. She wasn't afraid to ask any questions--she recognized she wasn't an authority on the situation, but wanted to learn whatever she could.

We left as it began to snow and the Yale crew opted to follow us all the way back to our sanctuary instead of following them for the rest of the day. I wonder why...

As soon as we got home, we pulled off our boots and set them outside and then put all of our clothes and coats directly into the washer for two runs through the "sanitize" cycle. We threw out our gloves.

Once in our new and clean clothes, they filmed us bringing the White Chinese goose (Yolanda) and the brown Indian Runner/Khaki Campbell duck (Bee) into our quarantine pen where we deloused them and treated them with wormer and foot cream for their sore pads.

Afterwards, we suited them up to prevent anything from tracking into our pens from the other site and led them through to meet our rescues. They just couldn't believe the difference. They didn't realize how bad off the other ducks were until they saw what healthy animals with lots of space and access to water look like.

Which reminds me... Before going out to help, we advised the other sanctuary to take some random fecal samples for testing, so we'd have a better picture of what was going on. When they did so, they discovered cecal worms in some of the samples.

Well... while we were out there, I would catch the duck, hand them to Tony and announce the gender and breed and then the owner would write it down in her notebook. Then we would check their eyes and feet real quick and then set them down in the next pen. Well... at one point the people from the other shelter started kissing the animals. I let it slide once, but when it happened again, I stopped them and said, "I just want to remind everyone that cecal worms--a type of round worm, were found present on the site. We do not want any kissing of animals today." (Not to mention as rescuers they should know that scared animals don't want to be kissed. Especially prey animals like ducks. The last place they want to be is near someone's MOUTH!) ay yi yi...

We talked with the two people from Yale for a long time--it was dark outside before we stopped. They were really wonderful people and it was really nice getting to know them. Of course, I'm sure I won't be quite so grateful when they show this film at their festival and everyone sees me caked in poop, catching ducks. Ha!

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, Farm Animal Shelters, Angel's Gate, Farm Sanctuary, Catskill Animal Sanctuary are ALL well within reach, have sizable budgets and are each large enough to accommodate EVERY SINGLE duck there, but we've heard NONE of them will fully take on this challenge because they claim they don't have enough money, space, time or help, which is a far cry from the truth. If only they would all work together--imagine the possibilities!

But in actuality, we've heard that they're not helping because they don't believe that ducks will generate donations. They think only big farm animals like horses, cows, sheep, goats and pigs generate funds (especially those covered in stories on the news)--not ducks, not geese and not chickens. They may keep a few of these at their sanctuaries for "show," but never more than that.

What kind of farm sanctuaries are these? Ruled only by what they think their donors care about? Sometimes you need to step outside the box and enlighten people about what to care about because they might not know.

I can tell you, we have been questioned by a few of our donors over the years and we have never waivered to running things their way. If someone doesn't like the way we do things here, or how we spend our funds, then they don't need to donate to us. This is OUR sanctuary and we're the ones caring for all of these animals and doing all the work and making all of the impossible decisions.

I'm not about to be told what to do by one or two donors who have no idea what's involved in running a sanctuary. Not for a minute. Everything we do here, we do for the sake of our rescues. If that's not enough for someone, then they can donate to some other shelter, but I can tell you this, in my experience, the people at these big farm sanctuaries don't care as much as we do and don't work nearly as hard as we do. I never want the fate of an animal's life to be dependant on how I think they may or may not affect my paycheck (what paycheck?!).

Okay... enough raving for today... I'm wiped out tired...

Here are just a couple photos we took of a few of the birds on site. They were all so lovely and beautiful, I wish we were big enough to take them all...

 

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