(photo: Hazel Marie with her veggies and her duck buddies - Hazel is doing a good job losing some weight!)
"I believe everyone should have a broad picture of how the universe operates and our place in it. It is a basic human desire. And it also puts our worries in perspective.”
We are all stardust. I remind myself of this, when I have the hubris to believe I have everything in control on a daily basis. Naturally, we can keep some degree of order in our lives, and make some plans, but we have to remind ourselves that we cannot control everything in our lives. Worry robs joy from today and does not help you build for tomorrow.
So how does this have a direct correlation to Unity Farm Sanctuary? We make plans and schedules and do our best, but we cannot control everything. Some of what is not completely under our control:
Calls about surrender animals
Health and aging of our rescues
One week, I will get a series of calls or emails about horses needing homes urgently. The next week, it will be roosters and ducks. And another week, maybe mini-pigs, goats, or cows. Last week there was an emergency intake of a racing pigeon. The only thing we can truly control is the inexorable fact that we are at full capacity here, so we network to the best of our ability to find homes for the animals in need. We connect to sanctuaries in the northeast and east coast the most, but can reach out across the US.
There are staffing shortages in many work industries in the US. Staffing for outdoor animal care has always been tough long before the pandemic. This summer, the Sanctuary cannot find anyone new to even apply for a year-round part-time or full-time position (we have been down on staffing since June). I cannot control the lack of applicants, and I cannot control the fact that I am not able to offer a large under-the-table hourly rate - we struggle enough in our non-profit fundraising and budget. What I can control is treating out current amazing staff the best we can, and helping them not to burn out. I can ask our volunteers to help out more if the can. I can control things by reducing the number of rescues we are responsible for by re-homing to other sanctuaries (my choice of very last resort I assure you).
Our volunteers make it possible for the Sanctuary to do so much more than if we did not have volunteers. I cannot control that volunteers graduate school and go off to college, or volunteers move away, or have health issues taking them away from volunteering. I can, however, control how I respect volunteers and let them know often how much they mean to us.
The weather is erratic and extreme - near drought some weeks, and now in July we have a need to build an Ark maybe after 11 inches of rain in the first 12 days of the month! I definitely cannot control the weather! The mud is never-ending and the water table is high. Rain is great for recharging our wells until there is so much water it simply runs off down the rivers to the ocean (Sherborn MA is 100% on wells). But mud mud mud makes it much harder to do the needed work here. We can try to control the mud a little, moving out dirt and replacing with stone-dust (horse and cow paddocks), plus adding sand to some mud areas where dirt must stay, like the alpaca,pigs and goats.
Our rescues, like us, are always aging, and sometimes develop new health issues. I wish we never had to say farewell to any of our rescues. Truth is, sometimes rescues come here older or sicker and we can only support their medical care until their quality of life is not what we want for them - we don't rush to any decisions. I can control having great veterinarians, attentive and watchful staff, and healthy foods and living conditions (we always try to improve).
Obviously just the nature of the word "accidents" means that they are things unplanned. What we can do here is build in efficient systems and work to maintain them. We do our best to prevent as many accidents as is humanly possible to prevent. Sometimes that is to make sure volunteers are never casual about latching gates. Or rechecking fences for any problems, looking for loose nails and screws, keeping any metal or glass or plastic bits off the ground. This is an area we try to be as proactive as possible
Make good plans- keep joy in your day - be compassionate to others and yourself - allow for serendipity - accept that difficulties happen - cherish each day.
Thank you for being on the journey toward kindness with Unity Farm Sanctuary