At any time during the summer you will find squirrels, ducklings, porcupines, fawns, baby birds of various types, turtles, snakes, toads, fox kits, bobcats, raccoons and just about anything else that flies, crawls or walks. I also help domestic animals whenever I can.
We get no funding through the Department of Natural Recourses and all expenses for food, supplies, and housing come out of our own pockets. It gets harder every year to make ends meet. The only aid we get is through the kind people who offer donations when they bring an animal to me. Nothing brings me to tears faster than a child emptying his pockets of wrinkled dollar bills and change. At this moment, I have pens and cages that need to be repaired; formula to purchase for fawns and various other baby animals; and many other supplies needed for the care of the injured animals and birds. There is more than one half acre of fencing that needs to be replaced. All donations will go directly to support the animals and their care.
An old woman from Mexico, told me a story when I was just a child. I had just rescued a bird from children that were throwing stones at it. She told me : " when we die, all of the animals we have been kind to in our lifetime are waiting for us at the edge of the river. They will remember our kindnesses and carry us across to the other side. My goal is to not even get my toes wet. Thank you...
New entry for the blog: May 17, 2015
Even after all these years, I can still be absolutely overcome by the pure magic and wonder of life.
First of all, I should tell you that, as I write this, I have a small, week old porcupine sitting on my shoulder, nibbling my ear. On top of the monitor, sits a young crow eyeing the baby ducks and gosling across the room. If you listen closely, you can hear one of the half dozen baby squirrels, bellies full of milk and cream, snoring softly in his cozy sock bed. But this is not the magic that astounds me tonight.
Two days ago, one of the silkies (picture a miniature chicken with furry feathers and a pompadour hairstyle) hatched out 5 little chicks. Since other hens had been laying in the same nest box, I knew there were eggs at various stages of development in the nest. They would not all hatch at once, so I waited. Yesterday two more hatched. I knew that she would sit till every egg was given a chance to hatch and the already hatched chicks needed food and water, I decided to move them from the nest box to the floor of the coop come morning.
When I lifted the hen today, I noted that one chick was missing. I looked all through the straw and into the adjoining box (much to THAT hens dismay)…no chick. Then I noticed that the pigeon who lives in the coop was sitting on the floor.
This shimmery grey and purple bird came to us injured last winter and now has free run of the coop and yard. She would love to have a mate and eggs of her own, but alas, she is alone, so she contents herself with trying to sit the eggs when the hens take a break. I gently lifted her and there was the missing chick, warm and happy and protected by a bird not even remotely related.
Since one chick was already there, I removed the rest and deposited them on the floor of the coop. Mom unceremoniously followed, she was not exactly pleased but, because her babies were already headed for the door, she complied. The pigeon was even less pleased to release her charge. Now I was faced with the remaining eggs.
As I removed them from the nest, I noted that one had already pipped. (Poked a hole through the shell with its beak) Hoping that the next door hen would accept these eggs as hers, I tucked them under her soft plumage. It didn’t work.
I came home this evening, after a martial arts class and a trip to find the baby goose. The first place I went was the silkie house. The hens were all so busy playing “older auntie” to the chicks, that she had forgotten her eggs as well as the surrogates. The day had cooled and so had the eggs. I held little hope for them. I was faced with the dilemma of what to do with them. Their chances of survival were slim.
Never the less, I got out my flashlight and took all the eggs into the dark bathroom to candle. Candling, is a process of shining a bright light through the eggs in a dark room. It allows a peek inside to check their fertility and progress. I could see shadowy shapes inside several of the eggs and they were moving! I couldn’t throw them out now.
Digging out the old Styrofoam incubator and all its accoutrements, I thought about the small chance of these eggs successfully hatching into chicks. The one who had already made the hole in its shell was quiet and still. I knew the incubator would not heat up fast enough to save it. A microwave and a jell pack solved that problem. I heated it up and tucked the eggs against it as the incubator heated. I heard a small peep. Knowing the chick was weak, I carefully made a crack around the shell with my thumbnail. I hoped it would be enough assistance to allow the chick to finish the process.
Hours later, I went in for the bedtime feedings. There was extreme peeping coming from the incubator! The little chick hatched and was resting on the wire of the box. As it peeped, you could hear muffled peeps echo back from the eggs. I’m not sure if the new chick was encouraging the eggs to join him or if the eggs were peeping in celebration of one of their own, finally seeing the world beyond. There was hope, for all of us.
Standing here, holding this wet, exhausted chick, no bigger than a fifty cent piece, I am in awe. The triumph and tenacity of nature reveals itself again. Feeling the warmth of this tiny creature, its heart beating against my palm, I am amazed. I am caught up in the joy and wonder of birth and life. I see the sacred magic of the entire universe and feel the joy of being a part of it. All life is sacred. All life is magical, the chicks, yours and mine. We are all one, spinning through space and time and experiencing LIFE in its fullest. What a blessing. What a mystery. What a joy…..and yes what a wonderful, wild ride.
- patricia schaffer
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