Running a farm animal sanctuary is no easy feat. From carrying out emergency rescues to building houses and trimming hooves, there’s always work to be done.
Obviously every sanctuary is different, and depending on the needs of the inhabitants and what new arrivals may be en route, day to day activities can change drastically, but to give you an idea, here’s a glimpse at a day in the life of Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary where I live and work.
When morning comes, the first task is to let everyone out of their houses so they can go about their daily business, starting with breakfast. The closer you get to the pigs’ house, the louder the squeals of excitement as they prepare to shoot out like little rockets before enjoying their morning run around rediscovering what delights may have fallen from the trees while they were sleeping, or what truffles they may have missed during previous excursions.
For the pigs, though, the first stop is always the latrine as there’s no way they are going to poop where they sleep! After that, much of the day is spent snuffling in the forest, lazing around in the sun or their personal favorite activity, which involves flinging the water buckets over, giving them a refreshing shower in the process.
The sheep and goats are much more laid back characters. When you open the barn door to greet them good morning, they casually stroll out, soaking in their beautiful and loving surroundings. After refilling everyone’s water and dishing out breakfast, which usually consists of a generous portion of fresh fruit and veggies for the pigs and a fresh bale of hay for the sheep and goats, it’s time to for us humans to have our own breakfast and feed all the four-legged friends that we share our home with.
Depending on the day of the week and the time of the year, daily animal care can vary greatly. Mucking out houses, trimming hooves, and general health checks which include examining eyes, ears, mouth, nose and body are by far the most common tasks of all, and then there’s shearing in springtime, mudbaths in summertime and warm jackets for the elderly in wintertime.
Activities loved by everyone include going grazing, walking in the woods, photoshoots and playing games. The truth is some days are completely hectic and some much more peaceful, and that’s just sanctuary life.
Aside from the general every day care, there are also a whole host of other jobs and tasks that may arise at any given time. Building new houses to accommodate more animals, erecting new pens to give both new and existing animals more pasture to explore and enjoy, responding to emergency calls about life threatening situations that often involve journeys half way across the country to save a life, as well as providing specialist care which can mean anything from sourcing a wheelchair for a sheep to 24 hour round the clock medical attention (sometimes this means sleeping in the barn regardless of weather conditions).
When the sun starts to set, it’s dinner time, then bed. This usually is a swift process as everyone knows the routine, but sometimes the goats like to be naughty and decide that they would prefer to run around playing gladiators rather than go in their stalls.
Once everyone is finally tucked up in bed, you would think the day is done, but far from it! After dark is the time spent answering emails, responding to messages, preparing updates for social media, and perhaps most importantly, working on fundraising efforts to ensure that we can continue giving the animals the life they deserve.
As you can see, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than you may imagine, and what I’ve mentioned here isn’t even the half of it!
Despite the long days and sleepless nights, working with rescued farm animals is deeply rewarding and incredibly inspiring. Each and every animal that passes through the sanctuary profoundly touches our hearts, and nothing quite compares to sharing in their peace and happiness as they experience the world from a place of love for the very first time.