Undiminished by her disability, Babe, a rescued bobby calf inspires us daily that sight is but a state of mind, and that a vision for a kinder world rests within us all. The very first photo we saw of sweet Babe told of the fondness she had found at the hands and heart of a kindly worker who had ever so gently painted a red heart on the calf’s side. Determined to find a happy outcome for Babe, several phones calls lead to Edgar’s Mission where happily ever after and a life unhindered by prejudice awaited Babe. Watching the sweet Babe and her belled buddy, Sophie we have pause to thought that the greatest disability held is perhaps by those humans who see animals not for who they are, rather only for what they can produce.
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision”.
“She’s a feisty one,” we cooed as we gently plucked the bemused little Muscovy duck from the back of the ranger’s vehicle. Despite her vocal and wing-flapping protests, we loved her the instant our eyes meet. Found doing unwelcome laps on a householder’s pool, Feisty had flown in from who knows where. Highlighting how poorly protected our feathered friends are, there exist no statutory requirements for holding lost, stray or abandoned birds. Fortunately, in this instance we were able to offer sanctuary to this sweet, albeit forthright duck—her fate is now good, but sadly this does not address the problem so many of her kind face. Feisty did not fall from the sky, she is not the result of native waterbirds breeding; rather, her existence is the result of human intervention. And so to tackle the dire circumstance so often faced by unwanted, lost or abandoned birds, we need to go back to the root, or in this case the nest of the problem, and remind one and all that we are forever responsible for who we have tamed—a feisty problem indeed. Continue reading
Almost run down by a fast-paced BMW, the terrified kid goat dodged yet another bullet, or more to the blunt point, a fancy car. The previous day it had been chaotic traffic on an overpass that nearly claimed her life and the day before it could well have been a train. Whilst her past remains uncertain it was clear her future would have been both bleak and sealed had she not been seen for the vulnerable little being in urgent need of a kindly hand that she was. With the universe guiding her to the safety of a secure backyard, all kind-hearted council rangers could do was watch and thank their (and her) lucky stars they were at the right place at the right time. Not long thereafter the Lady in the Hat stood peering into the back of the Edgar’s Mission Kindness van cooing the words “I see you, you’re safe now”, and for the first time in a long time ICU was.
Roaming in a public reserve with many years’ fleece eventually proving too great a burden to carry, this handsome boy found kindness in the nick of time. Named ‘Better’ because that’s exactly what he deserves, a much-needed haircut was promptly scheduled as our work begun to ensure his would be a life worth living from here on in.
Well we all know how that one goes but this Jack didn’t jump over a candlestick. It was most likely a leap over a fence or gate that saw this young Boer goat holed up in an outer suburb pound recently. Fearful of we humans at first and quick to nimbly flee from our presence, it didn’t take too long for this dear boy’s personality to shine through as he began to nibble on our outstretched hands in anticipation of a treat, slowly learning we were indeed the good guys.
This is Try
Try, an ageing merino ewe, was witnessed recently by a member of the public aboard a livestock transport vehicle, desperately clinging to life as she lie almost motionless on the trailer floor, having endured being trampled beneath the hooves of her terrified companions. Injured, exhausted from her efforts to stand and covered in excrement, it was a miracle the elderly sheep had even made it this far. Some of her companions sadly had not been as fortunate, having succumbed to their injuries having had no way to escape from beneath the sea of hooves upon them.
In a twist of fate, as the livestock truck pulled into a service station, the stricken ewe made eye contact with the occupants of the vehicle beside her and a connection was made between the heart of this dying sheep and the people who saw her. Following the tug of their heartstrings, the kind hearted Samaritans knew what had to be done.
And so, they tried.
It was a dark night when Sophie came into our world, the circumstances those of a perfect storm. Delayed leaving the sanctuary for her rescue, with a tank low on fuel, a phone battery not fully charged, and a vehicle highlighting the simple yet challenging question, “If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others…why wouldn’t we?”, we bravely ventured into dairy country to rescue a blind bobby calf.
Taking the story back a week or two, we were first alerted to this tiny albeit determined waif by an animal-loving veterinary nurse holidaying in Australia. Drawn by this love, Sophie found herself working on a dairy farm, tending the many calves. “Do you know what happens to the unwanted calves?” her voice trembled. Like Alice, she had stepped into the unknown, but unlike Alice, she had wound up on the other side of the curtain that shields the dairy industry.
His life was fortified by our kindness and a straw-filled bed, the latter only the day prior refreshed by an intrepid group of corporate volunteers to whom Max quickly endeared himself. Of course, he did this in his own inimitable and affable way, leaving them walking away with snoutmarks on their hands and in their hearts.
It was a cortege of kindness, respect and the utmost of love that accompanied Hip Hop Bob to her final resting place amongst the trees and piggy friends she loved so much in Piggy Paradise. As the cows solemnly watched on by the fenceline where they had gathered, Tippi let out several long, low and heart-wrenching moos as the tractor set to work to inter the body of our friend.
Captain- defn: A leader. One in command.
And commanding our attention recently was a handsome Wiltshire Horn wether we have christened The Captain. Having arrived at our sanctuary after experiencing an horrific predator attack, The Captain simultaneously reminds us of all that is good in the human heart and all that is wanting in our relationship with the animals we farm for food and fibre.
Suffering severe wounds which see the muscle of his forelimb completely exposed and at risk of infection, The Captain’s condition upon his arrival at our sanctuary caused us to audibly gasp. Whilst The Captain was fortunate to eventually cross paths with a kind heart who brought him into our care, it was evident his injury was not recent but one that had been present for some time. Exactly how someone could allow a living, feeling being to endure such pain was beyond us. Charismatic and welcoming of our attention, our hearts sank even further when we realised The Captain was trusting of mankind, meaning he had most likely held a close relationship with a human in his past. Somehow this made the failure to meet his basic needs all the more upsetting.
Losing her mother almost immediately after her arrival into this world, La-tini could have been forgiven for giving up right there and then. In need of immunity-boosting colostrum, life-sustaining formula, warmth and care, her future looked bleak at best.
Upon arriving at our sanctuary and being provided with all of the above and more, it wasn’t long before La-tini had settled into her new routine. Keeping Lucille lamb company in between veterinary appointments, seeking out the closest human to win over with her earnest eyes and faux milk moustache and joining ‘her girls’ (our staff) on their daily morning tea break, La-tini’s easy acceptance of the world around her taught us so much more than she will ever know. Continue reading
“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” – Camille Pissarro
Driving along behind a stock transport vehicle, stacked high with sheep, we could not help but think, “That could have been her.”
Spared from making the short walk across the road separating the shire pound from the abattoir recently was a gentle lone merino ewe. “She’s so beautiful,” were our first words as we came face to face with the dear girl and saw up close the velvety wrinkle of her nose, those long lashes covering piercing citrine eyes and a presence that truly stopped us in our tracks, striking us at our very core. Continue reading
Little Lucille Lamb managed to out fox a fox, but she couldn’t out fox kindness. It was a kind heart who brought Lucille to Edgar’s Mission after a predator attack inflicted multiple wounds over her body, where infection had set in. Not long after her arrival, we realised it would take our very best efforts to pull her through.
The year is 1945 and in a post-World War Two USA, the powers that be hatched a plan that would change ‘chicken’ and indeed chickens forever.
The Chicken of Tomorrow Contest was launched in an effort to breed a larger, more turkey-like bird to satisfy the tastes of a post-ration America, a bird vastly different from the pure and crossbreed chickens occupying the predominantly mixed-farming operations of the day. With their promise of ‘a bird for every table’ the Chicken of Tomorrow Contest was launched by the US Department of Agriculture with the backing of a large supermarket chain among others. Continue reading
Taking his name from one of 54,000 carrier pigeons who “served” the United States Army during WWII: GI Joe was described as “an exemplary soldier”. Saving over 1000 lives shortly before the tiny village of Calvi Vecchia, Italy, was set to be bombed, earned this feathered hero a Dicken Medal for gallantry in November of 1943. Sitting in good company, the legendary GI Joe was not the only animal whose natural abilities were harnessed during wartime activities, nor was he the only one to have his service acknowledged, with over 60 animals receiving the Dicken Medal.
On 22 October 2018, four abandoned, emaciated and (in some cases) injured pigs found salvation. Exchanging the rugged terrain of a State Forest for a straw-lined vehicle and kindness, they were Edgar’s Mission bound and a new chapter of their lives began. And whilst we knew that would not be the end of their story, we didn’t know there was still an untold chapter, as one lone sow was to remain, navigating her way through the rugged terrain and a most inhospitable world.
Originally it was two little lambs to be surrendered into our care, the victims of not only a savage predator attack but a legal system that says some animals are more equal than other. But sadly, we were to soon learn only one would survive the journey, the other succumbing to the ills inflicted in the weeks prior that had not received the medical attention they rightly should.
Smile at a stranger, help an elderly person across the road, clean up litter or help an animal in need. Whilst none of these things are obligatory, they certainly present us with opportunities to evoke one of our most noble qualities, that of kindness. Born into this world incomplete, vulnerable and needy, right from the get go, we humans all need, want and flourish with kindness. It could be well said we are hardwired for kindness. The great naturalist and biologist Charles Darwin too recognized this. Although his name is so often synonymous with “survival of the fittest”, Darwin postulated that groups of individuals who looked out for one another were more successful in raising their young, ensuring their genes could go on to raise more offspring. However, science now tells us that the benefits of kindness go beyond this, benefiting both the recipient of the kind gesture as well as the dispenser of it. Continue reading
Gratitude is described as “the quality of being thankful”, expressing a “readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”. And gratitude is something we are encouraged to express every day, giving thanks for the simple things that give our lives meaning and often purpose. Gratitude is also something we felt an enormous sense of recently when two “more senior” goats came into our world. With horns more suited to wily rangeland bucks of a fierce and unwelcoming persuasion, we were more than grateful that the holders of these impressive horns, which thankfully did not live up to that fearsome expectation, were none other than two very diminutive little old nanny goats. With our goat numbers set to nudge 100, the thought of just how to accommodate two more was soon put to rest as our good friends at Equine Shepherd Sanctuary only too readily offered a room, or should we say pasture, at their inn for Edith and her dear friend Edna. Such a gesture of kindness causes our gratitude to know no bounds.
It was no laughing matter for a young goat who discovered his days of wandering at large in an inner Melbourne industrial area were numbered. With a developer having purchased the land on which the now-named Brooklyn had called home, they were surprised to hear the words, “You bought the land, the goat is yours,” down the phone line.
And whilst moments like this could well cause our spirits to sink and have us shaking our fist at humankind as a whole, so often these are the very same moments in which we witness the full capacity of the human heart. With the land no longer suitable for Brooklyn to call home (in fact his featherweight condition, proximity to major roads and lack of any companions suggest this was never a suitable life for a goat) the developers’ options were severely limited and the advice was to have the timid and flighty Brooklyn, who nobody could get within metres of, shot. Continue reading
Those who know and love roosters will know them to be almost poetic in their existence with their passion for life, exuberant vocalisations and ability for grace and eloquence in movement.
However, sadly it is not a love story that is written for so many roosters who find themselves unwanted and abandoned simply for having been born male. It is more than an unfortunate consequence of the rise in popularity of the backyard hen that around 50% of birds hatched out will be male. With the poetic vocalisation of roosters not welcomed in suburban areas by some, sadly this leaves so many with nowhere to call home and sanctuaries such as ours can only safely accommodate so many. As unsuspecting chicken carers buy ‘sexed’ day old chicks, we receive calls time and again for ‘guaranteed female’ chicks who grow up to crow and have nowhere to turn.
She was as beautiful in death as she was in life. Her haunting beauty that had defied age and circumstance, was as grace-filled as it was classic. Befitting of the most glamorous and legendary Hollywood actress, grace and poise were always hers – something that the passage of time and circumstance was never able to diminish. Lying there before me, on the crisp dew covered grass, she still commanded our awe and respect. And so too our hearts. And whilst we wept heavily, there was a lightness, a sense of calm and peace that overcame us. It was over. The waiting, the not knowing, the searching for ideas, the sinking feeling one got when they looked into her sad and lost eyes. Gemima was gone. Gone to join her one true love in this world. Gone to join Bambi.
His almost-smiling fuzzy face may well be enough to touch even the toughest of hearts but little Lexie lamb almost never was. Whilst it is incredibly tempting to stay in this moment forever, drinking in the mesmerising features of our darling new arrival, Lexie’s story begins some months ago in a far darker place, in a place where kindness is not the order of the day, a place from which sheep rarely return…
If you’re reading this now chances are you ’re nodding your head in agreement, just when you think you’ve got things figured out, life seems to toss you a curve ball. But does she? Have you ever wondered that perhaps there is a grander plan? And that things do happen for a reason, guiding you to just where you need to be. It’s not a case of luck or even serendipity, rather, that we are presented with enormous opportunities to learn important life lessons, helping us to evolve to be better versions of ourselves. On Friday just past I had the good fortune (there I go slipping to the default of luck), or should I say pleasure, of hosting a visit to the sanctuary by the journalist who required a pig for a photoshoot way back in 2003. And yes, you know what happened next.
It was so much fun catching up with Chris Beck and taking a trip down memory lane as we both mused, “Who would have thought all this could happen just because one lets a pig into their heart and home?”
Saves more than nine! No celebration of Vet nurse Day would be complete without a stop to check in on our own Vet Nurse Stitch, another of our beloved animal residents who can always be found taking time out to cuddle up and provide comfort to those recuperating in our hospital ward. Having been rescued herself at only days old after a mammoth search and recovery effort in an industrial warehouse, Vet Nurse Stitch as she is affectionately known, has well and truly taken to her self-appointed role as chief comforter and carer of all those in need. (Second in command of course to Vet Nurse Ruby!)
We were honoured to be included in a panel as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival last month alongside a number of champions of the animal activist community. Moderated by none other than Osher Günsberg, Pam Ahern, Laurie Levy, Debra Tranter and Ward Young openly and honestly discussed the emotional cost of lives spent saving animals with the take away message ringing true, “Keep rescuing animals. You may lose your mind, but you will surely find your soul.’”
A huge thank you to Melbourne Writers Festival and all involved for the opportunity to be a part of such an important event on behalf of our animal friends.
Don’t be fooled by the delicate-sounding name, our latest arrival Dandelion is as brave as they come. Having found herself in the wrong place at the right time this dear girl has suffered a terrible injury to her wing at the hands (or, more accurately, the mouth) of a too-curious canine. Luckily for Dandelion, a kind heart intervened in the nick of time and she arrived at our sanctuary, where she was quickly stabilised in our hospital. Dandelion has since undergone further veterinary assessment and is showing positive signs that a full recovery of her injured wing is possible.
“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
My trail began on the 14th of December 1961, born the second child to two damn fine human beings: Sylvia Pamela Brown and Bernard James Ahern. Wandering down many paths throughout the years, it was the discovery of an old journal recently that took me back to a path I inadvertently took in early February of 1994. A short cut led to a detour, which was to lead me to a German Shepherd dog and a change in the course of both of our lives. Out of the corner of my eye I spied what I thought was a dead dog by the side of the road. I thought that our shared moment together would be but that moment of sadness I felt for his passing. But then I thought he moved. “Did he move?” “No, he didn’t.” “Hang on, I think he did”. Teetering between arriving at work on time (as my “short cut” had already proved anything but) and the plight of the hapless injured animal, it was the hapless injured animal who easily won out. Continue reading
Together we stand, united by our love for the animal residents who call our sanctuary home. United by a kindness and compassion that sees us allies in a digitally-powered world that can sometimes appear geared toward making us go it alone.
And together we have truly changed the world for a goat named Together. You may recall this dear girl arrived into our care some months ago, terrified and suffering extensive facial injuries after having experienced a predator attack. You may have followed Together’s journey to recovery over the past weeks, which we’re delighted to announce finally culminated in her receiving a veterinary all clear, meaning Together has now recovered from her injuries and no longer requires daily treatment or medication. Continue reading
Bursting into our world and our hearts almost four years ago and proving it does take a village to raise a special needs lamb was a quirky black faced Suffolk ewe we named Saturday. A convoy of kindness ferried Saturday from the fields of rural NSW to our sanctuary, a mammoth task in itself. But all those involved who helped Saturday leapfrog her way here gave of their time and energies so selflessly, believing all the while that since we humans live in a world of possibilities and so too should our animal friends.
A first we had difficulty pinpointing the exact cause of Saturday’s inability to use her back legs, as tests, medications and therapy failed to yield any appreciable results. This left only congenital spasticity as the answer for why the messages from Saturday’s brain to her hind limbs were going awry. As dedicated volunteers rallied throughout the day to keep little Saturday mobile and reaching her goals, a specially designed cart was sought. Delivering on its promise of mobility, Saturday’s cart meant she could set about exploring every inch of our 153 acres and a few handbags as well. A task she accepted without a moment’s hesitation as if it were in the tea leaves that she always would. Continue reading