It’s dawn at Unity Farm Sanctuary: roosters sing the song of their people as they wake up; robins, wild turkeys and deer move about foraging in the forest; and the pigs try to sleep in just a bit longer.
Sometime before 8am, Star Donkey and Bob Crockett Holstein sing out a greeting to the arriving staff member. Jingle Goat is not shy about discussing his breakfast desires either!
Every morning is packed with activity here, hay is fed at 8am, 12pm, 3pm and 6pm with special grains and medications at 8am and 3pm. Volunteers start arriving at 8am most days as well. Breakfasts of fresh vegetables with some fruit are prepared for 9am (most days volunteers have the fun task of making the pigs happy at breakfast time).
Fresh water must be given to everyone, prefaced by scrubbing out water containers before a refill. By mid-morning, the Feathered Friends have their feed containers topped off as well.
Volunteers help clean the paddocks throughout the day, making time to brush horses and goats. The morning staff member climbs up to the hay loft, tossing down more hay for use throughout the day. By late morning, a staff member will have dumped the collected manure buckets to the composting area.
After lunch, there might be extra work for staff in the Healing Haven Barn if we have a rescue staying there. New intakes, or a resident might use one of those 5 stalls. This hospital space is time consuming, but so important to the rescue work we do at the Sanctuary. We can maintain quarantine here as needed, or a quiet space for a rescue to heal.
A few days a week, public tours join the cadence of the days. Tuesday mornings throughout the warm months of the year we host Storytime Tours for the preschool set, and most weekends there are the public Sanctuary Tours (the public cannot come by for unguided drop-in visits to the animal areas).
Unromantic but crucial are the many daily tasks that serve to make everything function. Daily health checks for residents, storing feed and supply deliveries, meeting with veterinarians and farriers, restocking medications, posting in social media and maintaining the website, thanking donors, correspondence and working with the bookkeeper, and so much more.
Also largely unseen, but becoming a large part of our efforts is networking to save rescues. We are at capacity for onsite rescues but we get calls and emails most every day. Building connections for a network gives us a way to soften the blow of saying “no” to a new intake rescue. The calls are not just for roosters (there are a lot of those calls). We get requests to help with horses, goats, swans, quail, flying squirrels, hens, ducks, cows, pigs, dogs, cats and more.
With the sunset, the pace slows here, and after the 6pm hay feeding, many of the rescues settle in for the night. Chickens naturally roost, the pigs are snoring, the goats, alpaca, llamas and cows chew cud and chill. The horses nibble on hay throughout the night. The coops are closed and the Feathered Friends put to bed. Bob Crockett Holstein spots us out there at the final “bed-check” and moos for a little more hay and attention. Who could say no to Bob?