And the hills came alive with the sound of baas…meet Julie Andrews

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Late last year we responded to a request for assistance from Parks Victoria in regard to the rescue of two abandoned sheep who had taken up refuge in parkland just north of Melbourne.  Befriending the local kangaroos and grazing vast fields, the duo could have continued happily ever after except for their ever-growing fleece and hard hooves potentially causing damage to fragile soils. Both factors show the unsuitability of these introduced animals to our shores.  Proving too the smarts of sheep, reigning them in was to be quite a challenge.  Whilst our makeshift corral brought a halt to the roaming of the sheep we named Charade, her feisty counterpart proved far more elusive, spiriting off into the several hundred acres of vastness, trees and hills.  Reluctantly we headed home, with one ear and eye constantly peeled to the phone awaiting a call to confirm a sighting of the sheep.  Alas, that call was not to come for several long months.  However, this time armed with a far better understanding of the logistics of the park we were confident that the words of the park ranger, “You’ve come to get the sheep? Well good luck on that one,” were to be but an ingredient of his humble pie.

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Don’t be afraid …

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The first time we met Kitty, Cat and Tony, three hapless sheep who had been united by the circumstance of abandonment in a rural country pound, we found two extremes. While Kitty and Cat, two elderly Damara ewes, were scared and determined to have nothing to do with us, the affable Tony, a handsome Texel ram, sat at the opposite end of the spectrum— friendly, confident and only too willing to partake in a back scratch. Gently offering the words, “Don’t be afraid; we’re taking you home” to Kitty and Cat, the untrusting duo soon joined their chaperone, Tony, and were ushered towards our kindness.

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And then there were three—meet Deanie and Weenie.

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Lambs are indeed social animals, relishing in the company of their own kind. And so it was to our bedroom each night dear Beanie Lamb went to ensure she was not lonely. However, coming to our rescue were the newborns, Deanie and the diminutive little Weenie. With their umbilical cords still plump with blood and nutrients, we were reminded of their vulnerability and short time dancing on this earth. Cords disinfected and clipped, warm jackets donned and life-sustaining colostrum downed, they were all set to meet their new buddy, little Beanie.

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Where have you been, Beanie Lamb?

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Whilst a penny will never pay for the thoughts of Beanie Lamb or provide an answer to just where she had been, we do know that it was through the swift-thinking actions of kind-hearted humans that she is alive today. Arriving at Edgar’s Mission in the cutest little baby jump suit emblazoned with little cans of baked beans, wee Beanie could not have pulled at our heart strings any more if she tried. Not long thereafter we learned that a traveller from Geelong had encountered the scared and hungry little one just shy of the township; struggling to rein in Beanie’s poor attempts at directing traffic, soon even more humans stopped to assist, as little Beanie’s journey of kindness began.

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Feel Good Fridays

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The promise we make to each and every animal who passes through our farms gates is that theirs will be a life worth living. Yet in the case of some farmed animals, whose genetics are geared toward rapid growth and artificially shortened lifespans, this promise does not come without its challenges. Take Brady and Babette, two of the beloved ‘broiler’ chickens who call Edgar’s Mission home. ‘Broiler’ is the name given to the type of chicken we have created for human consumption as opposed to those used for egg laying. Through many years of selective breeding and specialised nutrient intake, the sad fact is commercially raised ‘broilers’ now reach their ‘slaughterweight’ at just 5-7 weeks of age. At over two years old, Babette and Brady are experiencing what would be considered old age for their commercial cousins. Sadly, this rapid growth does not come without its price and the genetically determined disproportionate distribution of muscle mass and heavily burdened skeletal systems can take their toll on these young birds. Continue reading

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What are you grateful for today?

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It’s not a question many of us ask ourselves daily but with a growing body of evidence supporting the value of a gratitude practice, perhaps we would each benefit from doing so. Gratitude is not only an immediate mood booster but has also been shown to be good for our health, as well as increasing our feeling of connection to those with whom we share our lives. The Harvard Medical School tells us gratitude is “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”

Certainly, with our busy modern lives, it can be easy to slip into the habit of focusing only on the to-do’s, the should-do’s and the “I can’t believe he/she didn’t do’s.” And whilst some studies tell us the human brain is hard-wired for hope, others state our ancestors only survived due to their tendency the anticipate and respond to negative events. Continue reading

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How to save a life

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It’s been four weeks since How Now arrived at Edgar’s Mission, dangerously thin, too weak to stand, eat or drink, yet somehow still miraculously clinging to life. During her initial veterinary exam, it soon became clear what had led to this dear girl’s shocking condition when x-rays revealed two metal nails inside How Now’s gizzard. The gizzard is an essential component of a chicken’s digestive tract, where hard stones and grit reside to grind down seeds. The presence of the nails in How Now’s gizzard had hindered this crucial digestive process and, even worse, one of the nails had begun to work its way through the thick muscular lining of the gizzard. The diagnosis was in- the foreign material needed to be removed and there was little time to spare.nails 20180314 how now (2) Continue reading

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Welcome to the Book Club – Chapter One: Goats of Letters

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It was in March of 2010 when around 150 people trod up the well-worn bluestone steps to the Bella Union Bar of Melbourne’s historic Trades Hall building.  Enthusiastically they listened while heartfelt, funny, poignant and profound letters were read out loud as the brainchild of literary wits, Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire etched into being. Not long thereafter the first episode of Women of Letters was complete.  Now some 8 years and hundreds of letters later, Women of Letters has reached a global audience as the lost art of letter writing has well and truly been revived.  At the heart of Women of Letters was the drive by Marieke and Michaela to raise much-needed funds for the sanctuary they loved.  To this end they have achieved admirably and we here at Edgar’s Mission remain forever grateful.

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Harmony Day: Everyone Belongs

Harmony Day

Today, across Australia, we celebrate Harmony Day. The word harmony is often used to describe music, the orchestrated hum of instruments as their melodies rise and blend in pleasing arrangement. Harmonies come together, each chord welcomed and complimenting the others.

As you may well already know, Edgar’s Mission is home to over 450 farmed animals of different species. Tour along our paths and walk through our paddocks and you’ll understand why we say this is a place of magic, a place where dreams come true. There’s a peace among the animals who live here and harmony in the way they interact, aside from the occasional dispute over a delicious piece of food or territory. Continue reading

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Cheech and Chong- two smokin’ fun friends!

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There is no doubt that Cheech and Chong, complete with their cute and cheeky goaty antics, will bring you great belly laughs. However, their beginnings most certainly will not.  Found abandoned at a tip (it’s likely their homeless mother was spooked) the vulnerable little orphans, just barely days old, were lucky to have been spotted by a kind heart.  But had they not, alone they would have slowly succumbed to the elements. Or perhaps even violently died between the teeth of a predator. Seeing their will to live amongst the rubbish and despair that surrounded them, their Good Samaritan sped into action.

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Operation Double the Kindness

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Setting the wheels in motion on Operation Double the Kindness

You may recall we recently hatched a plan to get 1000 copies of our cookbook “Cooking With Kindness” onto the shelves of schools and public libraries Australia-wide. And thanks to an army of kindness and generosity, the first 500 are on their way to their forever homes, where we hope they will win many hearts and help fill many hungry bellies with delicious and nutritious fare.

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Join Our Book Club – It’s One of a Kind!

Well, a book club of sorts. Perhaps it’s more of a reading club, a kindness club and a way to remind vulnerable animals there is indeed good in the world.

The idea stemmed from the dynamic literary event Women of Letters, brainchild of Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire, which set about to revive the lost art of letter writing. And so, our book club will set out to revive the lost art of storytelling. Our first chapter, aptly titled Goats of Letters will focus on two recently-arrived terrified young does we have named Marieke and Michaela. Continue reading

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Koky: a fortunate one

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Under an 18 kg fleece Koky (pronounced Co-key) sweltered, as he had done for the past summer, and several before that. It was not only his heavy wool that caused a burden to the young ram, as a piece of carelessly discarded fencing wire was mercilessly biting its way through his throat. With each painful gulp poor Koky took, he could be forgiven for thinking the world was not a kind place. But little did he know it was about to be.

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Can you please help my chickens? Meet Ginnie, Yolanda and Betsy

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“Can you please help my chickens. They’re dying, and I don’t know what to do?”  Ironically enough this heartfelt and pleading call came through just as we were preparing to shut our feathered friends away for the evening. True to their word in wanting to save their chickens, the birds were soon Edgar’s Mission bound.  Although upon their arrival they were a pitiful sight.  Despite their best intentions, and sadly this is something we often see, the birds were not in a state of good health.  One of the sweet little ladies passed away only hours after her arrival, although forever with us she will remain as she has been interred in our Enchanted Forest.

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Just say CC

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If CC is friendly and confident, then PP is not.  If CC likes grapes and carrots, then PP does not.  But that hasn’t stopped these two hapless goats becoming the best of friends.  Arriving at separate times during the month of February from different circumstances, they have found firm friends in one another.  And while still only very young, they have an entire world of kindness awaiting, and in the case of little PP, the sweet taste of grapes and carrots!

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Half a second of compassion – my reason for hope

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In 2016 Dr Jonathan Levy, a postdoctoral researcher, conducted a study using MEG (magnetoencephalography).  Here he took a group of 80 male and female Arabs and Jews in Israel, aged 16- 18 years, and exposed them one by one to images of people who had suffered some trauma (a stabbing for example). By studying these young people’s brain scans at the time they looked at the images , he was able to gain insight into the brain activity of the participants, importantly how individuals reacted to witnessing the trauma of another.  Not surprisingly, there was heightened empathy towards someone who was identified as belonging to one’s “own” group. But what is really interesting, and my reason for hope, is that before this, in the first few hundred milliseconds of exposure there was a short burst of automatic brain activity of empathy for the “other” regardless of which group they belonged to; it was after that a more advanced “selective” empathy system kicked in. Continue reading

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Finding her feet

Finding her feet this Five Dollar Friday is Jewell, one of our gentle special needs sheep here at Edgar’s Mission.

Jewell arrived at the sanctuary suffering a congenital hoof disorder that severely limited her mobility and saw her plagued with chronic pain. As a life worth living is what we promise to each and every animal who walks, flies or limps through our farm gates, this is precisely what we set about making happen for Jewell, who recently underwent surgery to amputate a portion of her hoof that could not be treated otherwise. And thanks to our fab Five Dollar Fridayers, this week Jewell was fitted with her very own brand new prosthetic hoof that will have her running alongside her pals and leaping with joy for years to come.

If you too would like to help animals like Jewell find their feet, please join our Five Dollar Friday community. Find out how here – www.fivedollarfriday.com.au

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P P

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Now you might think her name is short on letters, but that is the least of her worries. For when we learned of her plight, she was short on time and about to become, of all things, lunch! It is no doubt for this reason she still harbours a great fear of we humans. So as we work to gain her trust, she spends her days with a lamby clan of Carmichael, Rose and Tilly.

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He rocketed in and rocketed out—meet Rocket

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A duck with attitude best describes this chap. Unappreciative of kindness and with his own view of the world, which has him firmly placed as its ruler—and who are we to argue? This suits us just dandy, we understand we are to be his loyal servants and we couldn’t love him more if we tried.

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It’s National Pig Day somewhere

With heavy thighs atop dainty trotters, satisfyingly curly tails and love heart snouts, pigs are trotting their merry way into the affections of people the world over. Here at Edgar’s Mission, we’ll take any excuse to celebrate pigs, so we’ve decided to shine the spotlight on our resident porcine princes and princesses on (America’s) National Pig Day.

Pigs are considered one of the smartest species to roam the earth, but we’re just scratching the surface on understanding their worlds and capabilities. If you’ve never had the pleasure of spending time with one or more of these affable creatures, you won’t be privy to their remarkable intelligence, persistence and playfulness. Continue reading

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Yogi and Boo Boo—a time to remember

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Chances are, if you are old enough to remember and game enough to confess, there is still a little place in your heart for an affable, yet goofy, cartoon bear named Yogi and his trusty side-kick, Boo Boo. However, regardless of whether these two characters are familiar to you, we say with great confidence once you meet our Yogi and Boo Boo, there will most definitely be a place in your heart for them. Both were rescued from the dairy industry—an industry that saw them as inconvenient by-products not worthy of the lives they most certainly wanted to live.

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Now is the time…

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Like most people, I grew up loving animals and took great comfort believing the laws of this country protected them from acts of cruelty and indifference. Today, I still foster that great love for animals but now I understand that not all animals receive the same protection from acts of cruelty. In fact, the largest number of animals in human care, those who have been labelled farm animals, have been explicitly exempted from our animal protection legislation by way of the Codes of Practice. And the reason for this is simply because they look different to the cats and dogs who have traditionally shared our hearts and homes. But ask anyone who has taken a chicken or two into their world and they will be able to attest to the quirky and unique personalities each one has.

Right now we have an enormous opportunity to start putting things right, as the Code of Practice for Poultry is under review. It is currently at the public consultation stage, which means we can all have our say. Now I am not here to tell you what to say, do or think, that is for you to decide. But I do want you to think—to think long and hard about something we so rarely do. Because I am sure that you, like me many years ago, simply do things because it is the way they have always been done and everyone else is doing the same thing. There has never been the need to really think about it. But that doesn’t necessarily make it right, or even consistent, with what you believe in. Continue reading

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Come on join the joy ride – it’s Five Dollar Friday!

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While four of our special needs friends, Bendigo, Saturday, Jewell and Cuddle Pie, winged their way to our special vet, we give thanks to our special friends who make it all possible.

Through your support of our Five Dollar Friday, Bendigo Goose has had her prosthetic foot adjusted, Saturday Lamb underwent some manipulative therapy for her shoulders (being a wheelchair bound gal means she has the shoulders of a weight lifter!), Jewell Sheep received a check up to ensure all is going well with her stumpy leg (stumpy, due to a hoof amputation necessitated by a degenerative condition that had afflicted her prior to her arrival here) and little Cuddle Pie had a fitting to ensure the comfort of her prosthetics she wears to address the congenital condition which afflicts her back legs and hampers her walking. So, to our Five Dollar Friday-ers, our fab four had a wonderful ride, one full of joy, kindness and the best of veterinary care, because of you.

If you too would like to enjoy the joy ride, for that feel-good buzz you get when you know you are making a world of difference for animals, please join our Five Dollar Friday clan. Find out how here – www.fivedollarfriday.com.au

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No one deserves to die on our roads

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No one deserves to die on our roads. No one deserves to lay for two days, unable to rise, slowly succumbing to their agonising injuries. But this is exactly what happened to Valentina.

Scroll down now for what you can do to help. Continue reading

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What’s Georgie Girl up to now?

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Laying by the side of a road and bleeding from a deep laceration, it was thought she had been hit by a car. Once back at the sanctuary and Georgie Girl stabilised, we discovered a car wasn’t the offender but a shearing accident. One of her hind leg tendons was severed, leading to complete loss of control of that limb, and flystrike had set in.

To the restore functionality of her right hind leg, Georgie Girl had arthrodesis surgery, which artificially fuses the joints with a plate. And this week, she had shockwave therapy. But don’t worry, it’s not what you think! Shockwave is a very gentle, painless treatment that helps regenerate tissue and blood after surgery and to help the wound heal.

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What could you do with $5?

With $5 you could buy a soy latte, your favourite chocolate or put it towards the weekly shop. But we have a plan to get your $5 doing great things for animals.

Say hello to Five Dollar Friday. We need your help, well, your $5, every Friday so we can meet the growing vet expenses of our 450-plus residents and all those who finds sanctuary here at Edgar’s Mission. Last year alone, our vet bills reached $249,728.

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And then they found kindness …

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Five sweet ISA Brown* hens started out life in a sea of other hens in a battery cage facility—that much we know. Their shortened beaks, a result of debeaking, tells us this much. What is unclear is just how they ended up in parkland just shy of the centre of Melbourne: a park known to harbour foxes and passing dogs, and devoid of safe places for vulnerable animals like chickens. But then they found kindness in the form of a kindly park ranger, who bundled up the dishevelled ladies and sought our assistance. Whilst these may not be the best of photos of the now feverishly excited hens (good food will do that to a starving gal), we have most certainly found the best outcome for them. Welcome ladies, welcome. Continue reading

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Charlotte

Wise beyond her years and with a heart open to all, 13-year-old Charlotte has been weaving a web of kindness at Edgar’s Mission. Here’s what she had to say about a few things.

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Let’s make history

Thank you for taking the first step towards having your say for poultry—for birds like Little Miss Sunshine, Brady, Tina Turkey and, of course, Red Baron. Watch the video below to hear a bit more about their stories and their kind, many of whom sadly aren’t as fortunate as they have been.

We can’t stress enough, this is an opportunity we must jump on. It’s been 15 years since the last review—clearly legislation is not keeping up with public expectations or science. Let’s show the government that they were right to push forward with this important review; the public do care about our feathered friends and we’re a force to be reckoned with.

As a first step to helping birds, please sign Animals Australia’s petition to get hens out of cages. You’ll be hearing from us again to guide you on other ways to raise your voice.

Here are some helpful links to tell you more about the public consultation and the some of the welfare concerns raised over poultry industries.

  • Submissions close Monday February 26
  • Public consultation webpage
  • Public consultation FAQs

Other resources

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The passing of a friend

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Houdini hopped into my world and my heart almost ten years ago: a sweet white bunny, gifted with beautiful brown patches. These were not the only things he was gifted with, as the softest of fur, the gentlest of natures and friendliest of personalities became him. Sadly, just yesterday, he hopped out of this world, assisted by our kindness, our vet and our belief that a life where one has lost the will to live and there is no means to restore it is no life at all.

Houdini was an old bunny, we knew that, but we also knew his world, up until that point, was a happy one for him to be in. Although his body and ability to move about had begun to slow, we were comfortably addressing both troubles, enabling the grand old bunny to grow old with grace and dignity. But when his favourite treats no longer treated him, we knew things were not well. Continue reading

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