Annie’s Recovery

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Annie

If you’ve read about the little orphaned chick that lost her mom in my most recent post, “Mama” you’ll be happy to know that things are looking up for little Orphan Annie.  She’s found a friend, a protector, and food locater.  His name is Henry.  The most incredible rooster I’ve ever met.

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Henry & Annie

Henry is no ordinary rooster, or at least not in the world I’ve been a part.  He’s extraordinarily kind, loving, and I believe he is filled with love, and holds a very gentle spirit.

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Annie & Henry

He saw that the little one – Annie – couldn’t get her share of the food, and he stepped up and intervened. What bird does that? Henry does.  Since he protected her against the others and allowed her to eat in peace, she barely leaves his side. What is so incredible is that she has nothing to offer him. She’s not of breeding age. She’s not his offspring. She is just a little lost soul who this beautiful rooster decided to take under his wing and help.  What bird does that – I must ask again?  If you look at this rationally, it is really unfathomable that a rooster would obviously sense that a little chick is orphaned and needs someone to look after her.  There are plenty of hens for Henry to protect, to breed, and to hang out with.  The hens love him.

Life is amazing on this farm and I seem to learn something new every single day.  This newest revelation was worth sharing.

Mama

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In all of the trials, struggles, financial problems, and pain that comes with operating a farm animal sanctuary there will always be times along the way that will hit you like a brick in the head and cause immeasurable pain.

Nothing I’d experienced in the past could have prepared me for this most recent event, though.

Many months ago I rescued a couple of roosters – Henry and Harold – and discovered that Henry is a rare breed of rooster, a Mottled Java, and close to extinction. I decided that I wanted more of him, so I allowed one of the “broody” hens to lay on an egg I knew was fertilized by him. A baby chick was born not long afterward to a very sweet Golden Wyandotte hen, and all was good with the world.

The two of them were an unbeatable team, with mama continually teaching her chick how to dive in and get morsels of food – and then run like the wind to avoid being bullied by the bigger chickens. When it comes to special treats and specific foods, chickens can be brutal trying to get their share. She taught that sweet baby the best places to scratch and find those delectable bugs and the best roosting spots. The pair always hung around the tree line of the forest because of course – that is where the best bugs hang out and it’s shady in the hot summer sun.

I heard a scuffle out near the tree line recently and the dogs were on alert, so I went to investigate. What I found was simply heartbreaking. A coyote had dragged mama out into the forest leaving a trail of feathers a city block long. I followed them in hopes that I had disrupted the kill and the hen might just be injured but still alive – but couldn’t find any trace of life. Although it was devastating for me, it was evident it was much worse on the little 3 week old chick.

I have difficulty removing human emotion from animal emotion because in my heart and mind I know they are the same… and this baby was genuinely and obviously upset. She was scurrying from one end of that tree line to the other seemingly certain that Mama was there somewhere – never coming down until it was dusk – roosting time.

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What the saddest thing of all is her solitary existence now. She’s quite young and still in need of a mama, but she’s all alone in the world and I cry for her deeply. She spotted another Wyandotte hen and literally ran as fast as those little legs would carry her to see her, only to be pushed away, pecked at and scolded.

Her little self is continually searching for her mother as I see her wandering near the tree line just staring into the trees, that little tiny frame just turning her head from side to side – wondering where she went and if she was coming back.

Her first night alone was traumatic. She just couldn’t find comfort anywhere. She tried cuddling up to other chickens on the rails where they sleep, but they weren’t very welcoming. She was being pushed aside and pecked because she’s unfamiliar to them. They like routine and they have their friends they hang with and again, chickens can be brutal.

I did the only thing I could think that would soothe her little soul. I waited until she was settled and I picked her up and held her tightly. I kissed her little beak, and stroked her head and body, holding her close and talking to her until she settled in and began to coo. She needed love and although I was the next best thing to her mama, she got it. I do that every night now, and it soothes my soul as well.

What I learn every day spending time with these amazingly emotional beings, and especially in this incident, is that they feel love, and loss, and joy, and heartbreak. It is as clear as the sky is blue that they are extremely emotional beings.   What we force them to endure in those huge factory farm warehouses and farms is unfathomable. One day all of this pain, suffering and torture we inflict on innocent beings will be just a bad dream from the past – I only wish I could awaken from it now. I know the love of these animals and it is extremely special – and they deserve so much better.

A True Gentleman

FARM ANIMAL HAVEN SANCTUARY

A boy who lives on this farm is kind, loving, and a hero of sorts. His name is Henry. He’s endured quite a bit for someone his age, from being tossed aside, to being roughed up by another boy who lives here who I call Harold.

Henry and Harold are roosters. Harold has proven himself as the leader and has pushed Henry aside from the flock in plenty of aggressive interactions, leaving Henry to fend for himself at feeding time, and to look for creative ways to keep his dignity with the hens.

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Noticing that this was taking place, I took the liberty of feeding Henry separately, just to be sure he felt included, and got his share of special treats. Although everyone can see that Henry is a big rooster and is probably anxious to get some of those morsels, he uses those treats to bring a few…

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A True Gentleman

A boy who lives on this farm is kind, loving, and a hero of sorts. His name is Henry. He’s endured quite a bit for someone his age, from being tossed aside, to being roughed up by another boy who lives here who I call Harold.

Henry and Harold are roosters. Harold has proven himself as the leader and has pushed Henry aside from the flock in plenty of aggressive interactions, leaving Henry to fend for himself at feeding time, and to look for creative ways to keep his dignity with the hens.

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Henry

Noticing that this was taking place, I took the liberty of feeding Henry separately, just to be sure he felt included, and got his share of special treats. Although everyone can see that Henry is a big rooster and is probably anxious to get some of those morsels, he uses those treats to bring a few hens some joy. Without eating a single offering, he clucks his special “treat” sound, breaking up the pieces ever so carefully, he gives them (and I mean all of them) to the hens who come running at the alert sound.

The hens happily gobble up all that was meant for Henry, as they’d already eaten the bulk of the tidbits that were given to the flock… and he is happy, because that is the amazing being that he has become.

Yesterday, mama chicken and her 6 babies were out of their safety box and Henry did exactly the same thing for the chicks. Being completely unselfish and giving, he clucked his food signal driving all six of those 5-week old chicks to his side.

Previously I’ve seen ducks push the babies away to get to the food. Sheep push a baby lamb aside to be certain they get their share – and most of the lamb’s share as well.  But not Henry – he selflessly gives what he can to the others, in a way that I’ve never experienced before. In an effort to avoid projecting human characteristics onto a rooster, it appears to me that Henry is a gentleman and a saint. To say “he takes a beating, but comes back even more compassionate” is putting it mildly.

Henry is not just a chicken’s best friend – he is also my friend. When I come into the barn to visit or do chores, he finds his way to my side. He’s not afraid or concerned that I might do something he is unwilling to accept – he tolerates all of my loving gestures. Although he’s not willing to jump in my lap after much encouragement, he does come close enough for a pet or two.

I’m one of the luckiest people in the world to be his friend. I’ve never known an individual (of any species) so considerate, kind, loving, or selfless, and I can honestly say, I look forward to each and every encounter with him. He brings me joy.

Amy

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Amy

The last few days have been extremely special, with the addition of Amy, the 3-month old bummer lamb who was just about to go to auction.  Her fate was intercepted by an animal savior who decided that wasn’t going to happen, and relocated Amy and her four goat friends to homes that were “animal friendly.”

Amy’s presence here makes everything right with the world. I feel so much love for her that I find myself sitting in the barn for extended periods of time, just staring at her – waiting (and wanting) for her to come around to the realization that I’m only there to love, feed, and care for her.  That I mean no harm.  She has come close to me… but no pets yet.

IMG_2411Amy was raised with 2 female goats and their kids.  This little lamb actually thought she was a goat, or at least belonged with them.  With the four goats that are living here, her first inclination was to bond with them, hanging out as close to their pen as she could. Never mind there were three other sheep available to bond with – namely Andy, the boy who I hoped would be thrilled to have another Barbados in the herd.

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Andy Boy

Andy has always been a bit of an outcast among the others, but perhaps that is the reason he is so bonded to me.  The other two, Bitsy and Joey, are always together, and although Andy stays nearby, he never quite fit in with them.  So, as soon as he saw Amy, it was obvious there was a twinkle in his eye.  Someone that looked just like him! How exciting!

Andy is a bit of a clown, and is always interacting with me in one way or another.  He’s like a puppy dog, but much more mischievous.  When I come home from shopping, his face is always in the groceries, trying to see what I bought – or what he can get hold of and run away with!  He’s taken off with whole heads of lettuce, broccoli, bags of carrots, coffee… you name it – and catching him to get it back is a comedy show.  I’ve spent up to an hour trying to retrieve his grabs. He is always there to greet me when I come home, and anyone else who visits, poking his head in the car door to see what treats might be there, or for pets – or most likely, what he can grab and get away with!

So when he saw Amy, it was playtime!  He was like a kid with a new toy.  Problem was, Amy didn’t know how to respond to his enthusiasm.

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It only took a couple days though – and Amy took to Andy like a fly to honey.  She now follows him around, cries when he is out of sight, and thankfully Andy cordially goes to get her.  They graze together, eat together, sleep together, and play together.  It is love as I’ve not seen with sheep before.  And I think it has a lot to do with Andy being lonely when I’m not with him.  He is in love, and it is clear in his every action and reaction to this precious girl.

It won’t be long before she’s allowing my hugs and pets.  And the other two sheep have accepted her into the flock.

Life is good.

Those Amazing Roosters

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Harold and Henry

I consider myself extremely lucky to have two new roosters  – Harold and Henry – added to the “flock” recently.  They’re amazingly beautiful, and above all – they’re sweet.  The first night on the ranch, they allowed me to lovingly hug them individually… without any resistance whatsoever.  We started this relationship right!

I don’t know their in-depth history, except that someone that was threatening to kill them – so a really cool vegan guy named Adam rescued them, and they were taken to safety at an apartment in Eugene, OR.  Obviously they were there against city ordinances so there was urgency in placing them. They were delivered to the ranch a few weeks ago, and life here hasn’t been the same.

None of the hens that live here, (14 to be exact); have ever been around a rooster before.  Not for any reason other than I’d just not rescued any before.  But now I will go in search of them.

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Harold

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Henry

Every night when the sun goes down and the hens go to perch in the barn for the night – they fight over who gets to be closest to one of the boys.  They snuggle as close as they can – each rooster hanging with at least 5-6 hens on each side.  It is comical because they are all in love with these boys.

The mistaken portrayal of roosters being mean and ornery could not be further from the truth.

I noticed a few days ago that one of the hens was trying to lay an egg in a nest that was already occupied.  I will never understand why hens don’t just find another place to lay – but they’re creatures of habit – and this day mama hen was raising all kinds of havoc and making some very loud sounds in protest … but Harold was there to aid her.  He took her into the bushes and lay down as if to show her she could lay an egg here if it had to come out.  He was obviously trying to relieve her angst.  It was priceless.

Today – since it’s been raining, the ground has been full of worms… a major chicken treat – and I noticed Harold calling the hens in an unusually sweet tone, pointing out worms to them so they could enjoy the treat.  He proudly stood by and watched while two or three hens shared… never taking the treat for himself.  This melted my heart so deeply I couldn’t even begin to describe it.  He is their keeper – their mate  – and that is the purest love I can imagine.

Henry is a bit shyer than Harold, although he’s out and about all day with the hens; Harold seems to be the more of a leader than Henry.  But while they are all out, the boys go on lookout for predators, and when they see something that is questionable – the warning sounds go off (completely different sounds than I’ve ever heard) and all of the hens get to safety quickly.

I’m just gushing over these boys… who are now, by the way, running to me when I bring out veggie scraps.  They have no fear of me, and I of them… and life is good on the ranch.

An Alternative to Antibiotics… that Works!

Andy's eye

Andy’s eye

About  three days ago my 7-year old wether sheep, Andy, had one eye closed and it looked puffy.  When I inspected it further I noticed that the flesh inside his eyelid was inflamed and red.  He was also tearing quite badly.  He was extremely uncomfortable, not eating, and just laying around with that one eye closed.

I searched, read, searched and read some more – even calling a local farmer who raises goats for advice.  I knew if it got worse I would end up calling my vet – but I have had such bad experiences with antibiotics with every animal I’ve treated – I avoid them unless it is a desperate situation.  I’ve lost animals due to antibiotics because their immune system never seems to kick back in as it should.  Even with Keifr or yoghurt to replenish the natural antibodies in their stomachs – it takes too much effort and worry to get them right again.

I found what I believe is a cure for pink-eye.  The uncertainty is due to the ailment, not the cure.  It looked like pink eye, but since it wasn’t diagnosed, I am not certain.  I know that there are a dozen eye ailments that can affect sheep, some viral, some bacterial – so it was a hit and miss because we all know there isn’t a darn thing we can do about a viral invasion – it just has to run its course.

The cure for this bacterial infection? Honey.  Yes, that precious, sweet, incredibly pure nectar that honeybees store for winter is definitely a miracle.  I keep it on hand for cuts, scrapes, and other sores as an anti-bacterial ointment, but I never thought it would work in the eyes.

It did.  And I learned that it works for human eyes as well – a story I read in the Daily Mail Online was astonishing.  A 62-year old man had been struggling with eye infections for years and had tried every solution known to man – and finally rid himself of this problem with honey. The story is heartwarming… titled “Man Cures Painful Eye Infection with 99p Jar of Honey”.  Worth a read for sure.

Although it isn’t a product that should be used in daily life – it does belong to the bees –  having a little on hand can be a lifesaver for any kind of injury where infection is a possibility.

Nothing on earth is as pure as honey – so pure that bacteria just cannot survive in its presence.  And I proved that with my sweet bud Andy.

Andy.TinaToday, Andy is running around and eating and back to his normal frisky self.  Two doses were all it took.  I simply boiled about two cups of water to purify it, let it cool, and added a heaping teaspoon into the warm water.  After it cooled completely I put it into a sanitized squeeze bulb and applied a small amount directly into his eye.

Amazing.  I just saved myself at least $200 for medication, a home visit and further resistance to antibiotics.   I always look for the natural remedies first and luckily can usually eliminate a veterinary visit altogether.