Recognition

Buster

Recognition is a noun. It is described as the action or process of recognising or being recognised, in particular: identification of a thing or person from previous encounters or knowledge. It is the acknowledgement of the existence, validity or legality of something. The verb is to recognise.

On Tuesday 6th of October 2015, we recognised the all-too-familiar sights, sounds and smells of bushfire as Edgar’s Mission stood between the out-of-control “planned” burn and the fire’s sinister plan to take over the world. Recognising the imminent danger we faced, we swung into gear to protect everything we loved and had worked so hard to achieve. As pilots of water-bombing helicopters recognised the close proximity of our four dams to the fire, these dams became a critical arsenal in the assault on the fiery menace. The cacophony of noise and embers that engulfed our tranquil sanctuary was met with an equal dose of choking smoke sent billowing over the farm and sending the sun to another realm while robbing our airways of their ability to breathe. And, in a paddock nestled between the two dams that had become a pit stop for the choppers to re-energise their firefighting efforts, our terrified sheep huddled.

Although our main vulnerability lay to our north, such was the voracity of the winds fanning the fire that embers were being hurtled some three kilometres ahead. And striking a target in a forested area just south of our boundary they did. If Pete’s priority in these situations is to protect our property, mine is to protect her animals, orchestrating their removal to safety as swiftly and calmly as I can. Suited up in firefighting gear, I looked a far cry from the gentle Lady in the Hat my sheepy friends know so well as I set about making safe passage from their paddock to the next, dispatching team members to move them up from behind. Yet despite their best efforts, the sheep could not be convinced to pass the terrifying beasts from the sky that zig-zagged so noisily overhead. Some people would cite that sheep are dumb as their reason for refusing to budge. However, sheep recognise the safety in numbers, just as we humans do—no one daring to move lest they be the first to be picked off and “eaten”. And yet as the sheep stood motionless with fear, the experienced chopper pilots were anything but. It was with precision-like timing they worked in tandem: no sooner did one chopper fill from the eastern dam than his comrade would zoom in and fill from the western. But their harmony was our sheep’s terror.

Standing on top of the hill looking south, a sense of hopelessness took hold as I recognised the gravity of the situation. I simply did not know what to do next, as abandoning my friends was not an option, yet nothing was going to get the sheep to relinquish their hold on their corner—nothing that was, except human kindness. In that short moment, two humans, far removed by both distance and circumstance, were united in their recognition of the situation that lay before them. Deviating off course to the east, the helicopter pilot who was to fill from the western dam was able to “push” the sheep up from behind just far enough for them to recognise that beneath that foreign yellow uniform lay their beloved Lady in the Hat. And I will never ever forget the look of recognition on their beautiful little woolly faces: joy, relief and gratitude, all rolled into one. It was a scene worthy of Chariots of Fire, as I, followed by125 of my bestest ovine friends, then raced up the hill and into the safety of our centre and protected paddock, with dear old Mummy Sheep bringing up the rear as fast as her short stumpy legs would carry her portly body. Smoke, emotion and sheer triumph caused salt water to well in my eyes. For as long as I live, my thoughts of sheep will always be laced with images of their faces in that moment and I know I will smile.

That sheep recognise faces is not something new to those who know, understand and love these much-maligned animals. That they share the same core emotions as we humans do is borne out by biological continuity, common sense and now science. With these things in mind surely the time has come to recognise sheep for the wonderfully unique, intelligent, fun-loving, gentle, sentient beings who they are—for when we do we will also recognise the greatness of our humanity.

Make a donation

60 thoughts on “Recognition

  1. I had no idea the fires were so close. What a beautiful account of what the helicopter pilots did and then what the sheep did. Try reading Pam’s story without shedding a tear!

    • I failed to be able to match up to your dare Katrina, but I loved the telling of this farm/animal rescue as well. A wonderful moment of joy just taking in the outcome after obviously high quality time spent between human and animal developing that kind of trust. I’m so glad you shared the story and I will spread it through my community as well.

  2. Dearest Pam,

    Just love the stories coming from you and Edgar Mission,particularly this one after the very real and close risk from fires.
    Such joy in this world we live in. My heart sings to know that there are so many (yet not enough) fortunate souls that are loved by you.

    :)
    Regards,
    Helga

  3. Hi Pam, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your first hand experience of the drama which unfolded on your farm and so relieved to know you and your flock were safe from the fire. You demonstrate real leadership qualities and its no wonder all the animals look to you for safety and care. I love the work you do and what you stand for and will will always do what I can to support you. Thank you, Mark

  4. Dear Pam,

    Thank you so much for your wonderfully written report – it did bring tears to my eyes and after growing up in the country – felt I was there with you. I’ve also been feeling worried for you – but didn’t want to bother anyone at your wonderful mission.

    So glad the fire/weather reports have been so much better in the last few days.

    Best wishes,

    Christine

    • Dear Pam,

      Thank you so much for your wonderfully written report – it did bring tears to my eyes and after growing up in the country – felt I was there with you. I’ve also been feeling worried for you – but didn’t want to bother anyone at your wonderful mission.

      So glad the fire/weather reports have been so much better in the last few days.

      Best wishes,

      Christine

  5. This is incredible. I often worried about fires to all the shelters and animal sanctuaries. Pam and the volunteers are the bravest, most selfless people on earth. Thank you for dedicating your life for our beloved animals. I am so happy everyone is safe and none for wear. Bless Bless,

  6. I am so glad you are all safe and the love and support you all gave one another in this challenging time.
    My love and best wishes to you all for a continued tranquil and loving farm sanctuary.
    Edgar would be so proud looking down on you all from his mud bath above.
    He was perhaps helping you all and giving you all some of his love to help.
    I’m so thankful, relieved and feel so much closer to your farm sanctuary. We just visited on the Sunday before we read the news on your facebook posts.
    Thanks to all who helped.
    Bless you all. xx00 :-)

  7. So glad you were all safe. I’m sure I was just like so many others frightened for all at Edgars Mission and I was praying with all my heart that you would survive. Bless you!

    • I knew that the animals must have been very frightened and was very curious as to specifics of what your extensive “fire plan” consisted of and how the animals got through the noise, smoke, fear, etc. involved. So I really appreciate this specific tale of what the sweet sheep went through and how they were made safe. Thousands of us around the world were praying, as you know, and it is always helpful to see how God answered our prayers. Thank you for all you do, Pam, et al.

    • Beautifully written, Margaret, you show both a gentle soul and the soul/mind of a poet. And a resounding “Well done!” for your rescue of those precious animals. I always believed that animals in general, and mammals in particular, are much more intelligent and capable of emotions that too many humans arrogantly believe. I fully understand the emotion you felt when the sheep recognized you – it is both humbling and exhilarating when we cross that bridge that separates us from our animals! I had a cat who seemed to read my face/emotions better than the people around me…
      Good luck to you, your life is well spent in your labor of love, and I wish you many more happy, loving years with your animals. I wish I could do the same.

      • Beautifully written, Pam, you show both a gentle soul and the soul/mind of a poet. And a resounding “Well done!” for your rescue of those precious animals. I always believed that animals in general, and mammals in particular, are much more intelligent and capable of emotions that too many humans arrogantly believe. I fully understand the emotion you felt when the sheep recognized you – it is both humbling and exhilarating when we cross that bridge that separates us from our animals! I had a cat who seemed to read my face/emotions better than the people around me…
        Good luck to you, your life is well spent in your labor of love, and I wish you many more happy, loving years with your animals. I wish I could do the same.

  8. It was only a week ago, but it seems like an age. I’m so very glad that your beautiful new sanctuary was spared, but think of all those whose homes, property and animals were destroyed. Plus all the wildlife. Keeping you and Edgar’s Mission in my thoughts as we face this coming fire season. PS: those sheep sound more sensible than a lot of humans I know!

  9. Thank you so so much for sharing your ordeal with us . I am so glad everyone is now ok! I was in tears throughout as I feared a far different ending. May you all be safe…today and forever.

  10. Thankful. Adjective (I think!) I am so thankful that your amazing sanctuary was saved from the fire. I am so thankful that the helicopter pilot realised the situation and was able to assist. I am so thankful that the precious sheep were finally able to get close enough to recognise the most amazing, hard working, kind hearted woman who had already saved them once and was doing everything in her power to save them again.

    Pam I can’t even imagine the terror you must have been feeling. To now be responsible for so many beautiful souls must often feel like a crushing weight, but please know that so many people near and far are with you and believe in you and I also believe the spirit of dear Edgar watches over you eternally and I am sure he had a ‘trotter’ in the wind changing direction just when you needed it most! Keep safe Edgar’s Mission – we are all with you!

    • A lovely post, Susan.
      Pam, I had tears streaming down my face as I read you account of the fire. I thank God that you are all safe.

  11. Having lived on acres until recently, I know the fear that grips you when you see smoke from a bushfire nearby. I can only imagine that it was multiplied a thousand-fold by the worry you had for all the dear animals in your care.
    I’m so relieved that you all came out safely in the end :)

  12. It was so heart warming to read that if we all pull together we can do amazing things. I am so happy to hear that Edgars Mission and all the animals have been saved. Well done Pam you are my hero!!

  13. I read your story with tears running down my eyes. Thank you for pointing out the true nature/feelings of sheep, which I knew, & which applys to ALL animals. May God Bless You & all your animals friends.

    • I agree with Margaret. Pam, you show great writing talent in all your stories about the Mission and this time you opened our eyes to just how special sheep are.

  14. What a terrifying experience for everyone. After the peace and tranquility of WAD to be faced with that inferno must have been a terrible shock to the system, however congratulations on a job well done by all concerned including of course the helicopter pilots in all their endeavours, herding sheep etc.,

    Love to all as always xxxx

    P.S. yes it was a great day on the 4th..thank you all.

  15. First thing on the morning of the 7th, I checked that you had all made it through the night. It was the biggest relief to know you had. Bless you and your crew for all the wonderful work you do.

  16. Thank God you are all alright. You have been in my thoughts, constantly, and I could not believe that you had to face this bush fire terror, once again, after all your hard work and finally having found your “forever” home amidst such peace and tranquility. Thanks for sharing your experience. My love and prayers to all. Sue.

  17. There are many famous and unknown people throughout the world who have spent most of their lives in the service of humanity and or our planet and our animals. Of the many hard workers who spend every hour of their lives caring for animals, two ladies who live in close proximity to Hidden Valley stand out. INGRID ARVING and PAM AHERN. I salute you two magnificent women. I can but imagine the magnitude of terror you must feel when you face the reality of nature’s most horrific, all encompassing enemy, FIRE. You both lead by example and the only reward you need to carry on is to see the smiling faces of your beloved rescued animals. The are really no words to express my thanks. Your lights shine brighter than the stars. Juanita Wood.

  18. Pam, as always, you are the very best of human beings one could ever encounter.

    We were worried about Edgar’s Mission (again!) and hoped and prayed that you would all be safe.

    To me, there is no such thing as a dumb animal, simply dumb human beings! Thank God for the wonderful pilot. The relief the sheep (and you) must have felt would have been heart warming. Take care all of you

    Sincerely
    Dianne (Baxter)

  19. Crying tears of joy for you, your beloved sheep & the wonderful helicopter pilot. Thank goodness you got the sheep to safety with a little help from above

  20. I LOVE this story! Keep ’em coming dear Lady in the Hat – and one day, one sweet day, those unbelievers and uncarers with only thoughts of money in their heads will GET IT! Maybe they will hang their heads in shame, as they realise all animals feel emotions, pain, love and awareness and are not ours to do as we like with for our own gain.
    Kudos, Pam and Co. :)))

  21. Beautifully written Pam, I’m so relieved that all at Edgar’s Mission were spared from the devastation of fire. I hope this is the last such scare for a very long time, keep up the womderful work.

  22. Oh I didn’t realize the fire came near you. I felt as terrified as your sheep. So glad they recognised you at last and all was well.

  23. Darling Pam
    Like the others my eyes are filled with tears, now tears of relief and joy that you and the animals are alright. I was so worried for you and the animals. Thanks for letting us know you are all ok – what a terrible experience and thanks to that wonderful pilot who could see your predicament. What a great guy. Rest now and have quality time with all the animals at Edgars Mission and we are all thankful for the outcome. Love to you all.
    Sue-Anne

  24. In this world of terror, murder, bombings and generally being unkind human beings, the volunteers at Edgar’s Mission, led by the AMAZING ANGEL Pam and the animals there, all bring a positive note to our world. Thank you, everyone, including the animals, for making my day. I’m so happy you are all safe and well after the fires for to lose Edgar’s Mission and all the good it is doing, would be to lose faith in the human race. Thank you.

  25. Much relief upon receiving your email Pam. My thoughts were of Edgars Mission constantly during the fires. The word ‘Lancefield’ on the News, made me jump. If I had long enough arms I’d surround your farm. Many hugs. x

  26. So wonderfully put Pam, that must have been absolutely terrifying, hats off to the chopper pilot who must have compassion to help out, and yes can see how relieved you must have been!
    According to the Anastasia chronicles, there is a planet just for sheep!
    So that must be where they go after here.
    Good on you Pam and Co

  27. On the same day I received the fantastic news about your lovely sheep and an email from Animals Australia (AA) advising me to watch he 7.30 report tonight- which I will but I am sure the will be many sadnesses in watching that. Thank you Pam for giving me hope that we can demonstrate that human beings should NOT subject our beautiful animals to the things that Lyn White and AA has worked hard to expose the world to tonight.

  28. A brave fight by all involved. So grateful the outcome was good for EM and the Neighbour. Wouldn’t it be lovely if EVERY animal had angel Pam, CFA, and other volunteers, carers looking out for them. We can all do more to help these gorgeous animals

  29. My partner Bridget and I follow you guys all the way from over here near Liverpool UK. We are so relieved you are all ok and so grateful for your amazing work on behalf of our fellow furry, wooly and others beings! Sending our love, bleats woofs moos quacks etc

  30. Also, Pam, would you please give us an updste on the goat dairy farm decision when you can. It has been haunting me since you told us about how 14,000 goats would be living if the town didn’t disallow it. Thank you.
    Atlanta Georgia U.S.A.

    • Yes, Judith I too was wondering about that. Those poor poor goats. Such a travesty.

      Also, Pam everyone loves Edgar’s Mission, here in the states. Your stories are so wonderful, and the love you share with us of your four legged family is what makes this world a better place. I’m sure you know just how many are behind you in your quest to make people see just how loving all of these animals are, and the feelings they share with us. I try to broaden your ideals with my friends by posting everything about Edgar’s Mission. As a side note, because of your life’s work, I have not eaten pork in over three months.( I have NEVER eaten lamb, or baby anything) I just can’t do it! I think of the sweet babies there with you running around, and that’s it! No more. I am working on one group at a time, it is a process when you have had this all your life, (I’m 62). I am only one person, but if I can change one more person, and one more after that, then I am doing something good. There are plenty of other things that can be consumed, that are so good for you and taste infinitely better, why wouldn’t you??? Thinking of you and the Mission, and am ever so grateful that you were all unharmed in those horrible fires…..sincerely Nancy, Chicago IL.

  31. I was in Queensland when I saw the news of the bushfires around Lancefield and I thought not again! Last year Edgar’s Mission was threatened by the fires around Kilmore and now it was happening again, in your new wonderful place. I was keeping an eye on your facebook page and the news and was relieved when the wind changed and you were all safe. You do an amazing job and I am so thankful to you. The line in the blog that moved me the most is – “I will never ever forget the look of recognition on their beautiful little woolly faces”. I could really picture it all. Fantastic.

  32. Pam, I’m aware of the feeling of terror and hopelessness that you all experienced on that terrible day, having almost lost my life on Ash Wednesday but was saved by a wind change at the last minute which unfortunately caused the deaths of fire fighters at Upper Beaconsfield, You were so brave to stay and fight for the lives of your precious animal family. Thanks to the helicopter pilot who helped guide your precious sheep who then recognised your loving face and followed you to safety. I’m so glad you all survived. I admire your strength and kindness in your care of your precious animals. Bless you all.

  33. I am so grateful that you were able to keep your family and all of the animals safe. What a terrifying day that must have been. Keeping you all in my thoughts.

  34. I echo every post written.
    I had no doubt that every resident at Edgar’s Mission would be accounted for during this fire emergency.
    I have no doubt that Edgar’s Mission’s emergency evacuation plan is solid.
    Sigh of relief and well done to all.

  35. Absolutely beautiful writing. The love of animals is not your only gift. Why not write a book or perhaps you have already? I enjoy the Mission’s daily blogs and would be most interested to read more of the author also. FYI having been lifetime consumer of lamb chops I no longer buy them or want them. We had two lambs when I was a child as pets however your little rescue lambs and others are absolutely wonderful. Regrettably as much as I would love to visit your Mission my husband ‘s health, my elderly dogs and circumstance prohibit it still I visit everyday via your blog. Thank you.

  36. I was checking for updates while the fire was raging and worried for you all but what you have written here really brings it all to life and makes me realise just how bad things were.Thank goodness you have such a close bond with all your animals that they only had to recognise you to follow you.Thank God that you are all safe and I hope no more worries this summer

  37. I am so pleased you are all safe, what an horrendous experience for all involved, your creatures are truly blessed to have you in their lives.

  38. We have all been thinking of you and so glad that you and darling
    creatures are safe after that terrible experience.
    Loved your description of the survival moment, like Chariots of Fire
    and those dear sheep recognizing you at last, their dear hat lady was
    there after all. Hopefully there were some others to help at that time.
    Pam, you do write so well and naturally I was very weepy as I read
    the happenings.
    Keep thinking of the sheep in last night’s ABC showing of the Live
    Export and how wonderful that you have Edgar’s Mission for these
    abandoned sheep et al. Would like the pollies to read your account and realise how precious and intelligent sheep are.
    much love and be safe always.

  39. I am so glad that you have all the animals safe and that you was able to do such a great job with the fires all round you , you are some very wonderful people at Edgars Mission , I am looking forward to be up next week to meet all of you ,
    Regards Margit

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *