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
There were 90
ducks and 7 geese plus a whole bunch of chickens,
probably 50-60 of them.
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...
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.
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).
was, there were cameras (Yale film project) on us
when I said this to them and they caught the whole
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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
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?!).
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...