Tuesday, March 31, 2009

When it rains....

When it rains it pours. I really never have understood why we seem to be the busiest, picking up domestics, when spring arrives. You would think that most people would want to get rid of their animals in the fall, so they don't have to feed them all winter. That is not the case with our current recession; spring is busier than usual.

The 19 llamas that came in are doing well and settling in nicely. 6 of the 7 males that were old enough to be gelded were done last week. Dr. Montero and I have done a lot of llama geldings together; we have it down to a science and work together to get it done as quickly as possible without much stress to the animals. I am happy to report that with the generous support of our friends (see our donor list) the vet bill was covered. There is a long road and a lot of expenses still ahead with these llamas. I received an email today from their former owner, she sent me the names of the males--I like to keep original names if possible. They are very grateful that I helped them. I am very glad that all of you helped me. I received some checks from some of the other llama rescue groups in other parts of the USA and that is very flattering. People are validating what we do as a not-for-profit animal rescue and it is coming at a time when we need it the most ... but I will get to that later in this blog.

On Saturday, Shelly Wood organized our second annual Easter Fundraiser. She does all of the advertising, publicity and takes photos of the kids with lambs and baby bunnies that we bring with us. Cheryl Baitsholts and Michele Segerberg (and her daughter Karen) went with me to help out. When we arrived at Teen Town in Cobleskill, a bunch of my high school students were already waiting for us. The weather was beautiful and the Great Horned Owl, Red-tailed hawk and Screech Owl we brought with us enjoyed the weather as much as we did. We enjoyed a great spring day and raised some money to keep the lumber coming for our new Raptor Center.

On Sunday, we met at the Middleburgh Hardware Store where Rich and Heather Vilegi were our gracious hosts. In addition to the great food, Shelly took lots of great pictures. The kids (while they were waiting their turn for photos) actually got to go on an Easter egg hunt around the Hardware Store. Although the weather looked scary, it didn't rain on us, and we had a great crowd out front. The high school Students sold a bunch of raffle tickets, our donation jar did well and Kelly Martin and I shared a different Screech Owl and a Northern Harrier (Marsh Hawk) with many interested people. We raised enough money over the weekend to buy the lumber to work on the Raptor Center this weekend (with our friends from the GE Wildlife Committee).

The phone and emails have been keeping me busy. I am lining up incoming domestics by priority. All of the animals that come here are not always abused, sometimes just unwanted. I went on a pick-up of some animals that were unwanted yesterday. I very rarely get angry at people that want to get rid of their animals. I actually had an animal hoarder tell me that she had read everything that I had ever published and that she was very pleased to finally get to meet me ... as I was at her house climbing over piles of dead animals (with the Humane Society) trying to get the remaining animals off her place during a blizzard. I couldn't be mad at her. She explained through teary eyes that her husband and son had just died. The animals were all she had left and she cried when every one starved to death. She loved them to death.

I actually respect people that know that they are in over their head. They know they are not doing their animals justice and ask for my help before the law has to get involved. Things change for people. They get divorced, find themselves unemployed, have a variety of problems--that does not entitle them to do wrong to their animals. I felt sorry for that old lady but it is criminal that she didn't ask for help before things got that bad for her animals (she wasn't living much better). She loved them so much she cried watching them starve to death. Humans are complex creatures. People need to know when to ask for help and I will always protect their identity and help them if they ask.

I went three hours away for yesterday's rescue. I was suppose to pick up a cow and some sheep that the owner no longer wanted. One of my friends, Justin, went with me for the ride and to give some muscle if needed. I can't do what I used to be able to do when I was 20. We got to the farm and loaded the most pathetic Brown Swiss cow I have ever seen. She is skin and bones and was in a pen with another cow and her calf. "Claire" aborted her calf 3 months premature around 3 weeks ago. I'm not sure if it is from the huge parasite load, ringworm, or her frail condition but she has bigger problems than being a mother right now. She was too weak to stand on the way home but I will fix her up. She isn't too far gone. We put a panel up against her and turned our attention to the 75 +/- sheep that stood crowded in two horse stalls. We were not sure how many sheep we were going to get on the trailer but we started loading them. They are all Shetland and Jacobs, which, luckily, are not big sheep. Justin and I said our goodbyes to the lady and I told her that I would be back soon for the rest of them. We normally stop for some fast food on the trek home, we didn't this trip. We actually didn't stop for fuel, restroom or anything ... we were already working through the game plan for what we were going to do when we got back to our facility.

We got home in record time and decided to start with the sheep. One at a time, we started going through them. Every sheep got wormed and sexed. Since we are not a breeding facility, any sheep that had testicles got neutered on the spot. Turns out that we had 31 sheep on the trailer with the cow. 8 are wethered (neutered) males now, 23 are Ewes or females. Like the cow, they are on the edge of crashing but I know that I will bring them back from the grave. We might lose a couple on the way but it won't be because I am not keeping an eye out for the ones that have given up. Sheep are pretty hard to screw up. Within an hour of being settled in at our facility with several tubs of water and all of the hay they can eat, they act like they own the place. I do have them locked in the courtyard and barn. I am going to have to do several hundred dollars of fence work to keep them quarantined in the lower pasture, because of their small size. I will do that before they get turned out, as I get donations.

Now this is the crazy part: you would think that a guy that just saved a cow and 31 sheep would be happy for a day but I couldn't stop thinking about the ones I left behind. I called the lady to let her know that I had everyone settled in. I had originally planned on going back this weekend to get the rest but I really don't think a lot of them will last that long. I talked to Justin and we are going back tomorrow afternoon to get the rest of the cows and sheep. I know that I can't help every animal in the world. I don't have the money or the time but I can help these 3 cows and 75 sheep. They are in real bad shape but will come back to life with some good food, a worming routine and ample pasture. I will have the shearer come in May to get them cleaned up at the same time as the llamas. They will get their tails banded then, too. Thank God that it isn't fly season yet or these sheep would be eaten alive by maggots. They will eventually be adoptable; a lot of people like Jacobs and Shetland sheep because they are small and easy to handle. It will cost around $25- a sheep to get them fixed up. Your donations are always put to good use here.

We have crossed the bridge with the llamas but now we are knee deep in sheep. I will let you know how we make out tomorrow. I know I will sleep better tomorrow night when I can walk out to the barn and refill hayracks.

Please tell your friends about what we do, I appreciate your support more than words can express.

Till next time, all my best,

1 comment:

Jen and Rich Johnson said...

Hi Wes - just found your post on the shetland rescue. Glad you are doing what you are doing. I wanted to offer help as a resource, we breed shetland sheep and if you have any breed specific questions, we would be happy to answer them for you. Purebred shetlands don't need tails docked, but if they;ve been crossed, that's another story. Good luck, check is in the mail.