May News

I always seem to start the newspage with a weather report? Possibly because weather conditions are so much out of our control and so important to how we function and survive.
We don’t need weeks of nonstop rain in the winter, it causes mud, lots of it, people lose wellies in it, wheelbarrows get stuck in it and then tip over, emptying the contents into the mud, pigs begin to look like chocolate pigs. We don’t want rain when you discover you have a hole in your wellies and your waterproof clothes are no longer waterproof because they’re old, and have holes in them.
We don’t want rain when farmers are trying to drill oats and barley and wheat because it means that decent straw will be hard to find and when you do manage to, the price has trebled from the previous year. We don’t want rain at hay making time or shearing time or on Open Days or Visitor days or on days that you’re trying to mend fencing, so if anyone has wondered why people who work in farm animal sanctuaries can occasionally look stressed, take to drink, cigarettes, and other unhealthy habits, blame the weather.
Now that’s out of the way, animals. Having said sad goodbyes to many of our senior sheep recently, the door was open to fill those spaces for other sheep in need. We received a call from a rather agitated sheep owner, who, although loving her two Soay boys, was being driven to distraction by them. They never stayed where they were put, she would go out to feed them or check them or just say hello to them and there they were, gone.
They found different escape routes and disappeared in different directions, the worry was that they were so mischievous that they might decide to chase cars, like woolly Collie dogs.
So Alvin and Theodore, the naughty sheep teenagers were captured and brought to us, and to be fair they’d been with us for over three weeks before they escaped from their paddock to join sheep in another paddock. Why do they do it? Because they’ve discovered that they can, simple.

We welcomed George next, being at least five times bigger and heavier than Alvin and Theodore George had never had the ability or desire to go exploring. He’d been hand reared with four other lambs, as time went by three of the lambs, now grown up, died. George was left with one friend, who was then tragically attacked and killed by a dog.
George needed company, more of his own kind, of which we have plenty for him to choose from. He’s a laid-back boy, he settled in very quickly and seems to have forgotten the sad, recent events. George received some injuries when the dog attacked his friend, his owners think that he was trying to protect his friend by challenging the dog, he’s a lucky lad to have survived and hopefully put those bad memories behind him.

Little Minnie, the lamb who came to us unable to walk, lost three of her friends, Little Bea, Doris, and Mouse, all very suddenly. Post Mortems showed they all had undetected underlying irreversible conditions, which meant their lives were going to be short, but at least the care that we were able to give them meant they had everything they needed for their comfort while they were with us.
Minnie needed friends, we went back to the farm where we had her from and came back with Ted and Violet. Both were disabled, Ted had a bad case of joint ill in his shoulder and Violet could only take two wobbly steps before falling over, her legs looked as though the bones were missing and had been replaced with Jelly. I think I’ve been there a few times?
Ted was quite easy to treat, he had a course of strong antibiotics and painkillers and is now up and running, he’s growing into quite a big, noisy handsome boy. Violet was more difficult to diagnose, there were no outward signs, no swollen joints, her brain function seemed normal, her legs just wouldn’t do what she wanted them to do, they seemed to have a life all of their own. I’m sure a lot of people reading this will know that feeling?
She was started on a course of injections of selenium and vitamin E, with other vitamin supplements, in case it was a case of White Muscle Disease, she’s also had acupuncture as backup treatment. Her symptoms weren’t typical of White Muscle Disease and we started to realise that it seemed like more of an issue with her nerves, and our Vet realised that her symptoms were similar to what is seen in dogs with a condition called Syringomyelia. In layman’s terms, this condition means there is a fluid filled cavity in the spinal cord. Unsurprisingly, there isn’t much research out there relating to this condition in sheep, most commercial farmers wouldn’t bother with a lamb that couldn’t walk. Based on what we know about the condition in dogs, the prognosis varies greatly, there is no cure but it can be managed with medication and we’re happy to report that so far Violet has gone from strength to strength. She can not only walk but she can run around the paddock with Ted and Minnie, she’s perhaps a little off kilter when she travels at speed, but aren’t we all? We have no idea what the future holds for Violet, but she’s been given a second chance and is certainly thriving at the moment, and we’ll always be here to care for her no matter what.
Minnie is also now up and running she can even keep her balance when Big Ted cannons into her in the race to get to the bottle first.
An update on Beatrix, Bella and Bea, the ewe and her two lambs we bought to save the life of Bea, the lamb who had been born blind. She wasn’t wanted on the farm, she wasn’t suitable to breed from in the future and it’s likely that she would have been rejected by markets because of her disability.
Bea is becoming brave and has grown in confidence, the three of them are out in a small paddock just outside the kitchen window where they can be kept an eye on. They’ll stay with us as a family unit, and won’t be separated, mum will let them know when they no longer need her milk, she’ll wean them naturally and they’ll always have her company, the most important thing.

Shearing is over, almost, it all went well, apart from the awful music the shearers chose to listen too, it sounded to me as though an assortment of untalented musicians had fallen down a hole and were signalling for help. Next year it will be Reggae, as requested by me and everyone else in the village.
The shearers were quick and efficient which is just what is wanted, we kept around 20 plus older sheep back because of age and condition, the weather was changeable and they didn’t need the stress. Any day now they’ll be joining the ranks of the baldy ones, we’ll have jackets at the ready if the weather does change, no hot water bottles though, and no coming into the kitchen for the night.
Who are currently the most talked about sentient animals on the planet? A sow, her piglets, two cows and a one legged chicken. Please don’t miss this amazing film.
What can Peggy the one legged, Worcestershire born ex commercial laying hen, and American Joaquin Phoenix have in common?
One is now a global superstar, the other is a well known film star, and now a vegan activist.
Joaquin Phoenix the co producer of this unique film, Gunda the sow and her piglets, two cows and a one legged hen have taken cinemas by storm, gathering accolades around the world.
Peggy never met Joaquin, but her performance, and that of the other animals starring in this enigmatic film, a sow and her piglets, two cows, and Peggy, emoted deep feelings of sadness and then pride in Joaquin and in Victor Kossakovsky, renowned award winning Russian Documentary film Producer.
Victor, who became vegan many years ago, felt deeply upset that he was unable to save the lives of the piglets he had been observing, but without doubt, in this 90 minute, black and white voiceless film they were able to show that the animals he and his team spent months selecting and observing, were true ambassadors for animals around the globe. All animals are, and always will be, sentient beings.
These are some of the Quotes.

Gunda synopsis: “a scene stealing, one legged chicken”.

Joaquin Phoenix: “This isn’t vegan propaganda, it’s just facts”.

Wall Street Journal: “Frankly amazing new documentary Gunda, the best to arrive in Cinemas since the start of the pandemic”.

The New York Times: “This captivating film featured an audacious, one legged chicken!”.

The Guardian: “Gunda was shortlisted for the Oscars but would never have made the final cut. An outfit like the Academy Awards can’t recognise the brilliance of this film”.

Peggy was unique in more ways than one, she was just one of hundreds of free range hens kept on a farm in Worcestershire. She was found one day with a badly injured leg. Instead of being culled, she was shown to farm Vet Josie Rafferty, who kept a few free range hens for herself.
The leg was beyond repair and had to be amputated, the hen, after a few wobbly hops began foraging around as though nothing had happened.
She joined Josies’ small flock, they eventually all came to live with us at the Farm Animal Sanctuary, we had more time to keep an eye on a feisty, bossy one legged hen who was always looking for trouble.
Peggy died shortly after the film was first released, after a very short illness. Her physical presence is no longer with us, but she, and Gunda and two cows and the message they give will now live on forever.

It’s not unusual to have animals living in the house, most sanctuaries will have to do it at some time or another. My bedroom used to be a crèche for orphaned lambs while they needed to receive intensive care. That stopped when one of them, Robert, who had been brought to us as a collapsed newborn made such a brilliant recovery after a couple of weeks, he jumped from the floor onto my bed and landed in my veggie casserole. It was late, I was tired to the point of being semi-comatose, and I wasn’t happy to be covered in stew, have a lamb, also covered in stew, standing in my bowl and then dancing on my duvet. I regretted not having moved him into the barn with the other lambs a week back, when he was strong enough, but I’d become very fond of him, it was comforting to be awake during the night and listen to him snoring as he lay in his dog bed, dead to the world.
Once, someone who was staying overnight came downstairs to report that there was a chicken in the airing cupboard? And? There have been ducks, rabbits, chicks, and a turkey in the intensive care unit, aka the front room, one Vet came out to a sick pony late one stormy night hoping the pony wasn’t still out in the field? The pony, who was exceptionally small, was standing under the kitchen table waiting to be examined. The vet was very happy.
Variety is the spice of life, we are putting together plans to raise the funds to buy the farm, we have to achieve this for the sake of all of our animals, this is their home. We’re not expecting to be able to do this in five minutes, we’re being promised a lot of support, all the help we can get will be very much appreciated and we will get there, so if you can add any ideas you may have, please let us have them.
Weekend visits are going really well, book yours now, come and enjoy the experience of being licked by a cow, mugged by sheep and whatever it is the geese decide to do on the day.
Thank you all for your continued support.
Stay safe and take care.
Janet
xx