Friday, October 10, 2014

A Creatures'Paradise at Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary, MD

On Sunday I was joining some British friends at Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary for their annual open day. I met up with Nancy first at Bassetts Place in Poolesville, MD for brunch.
The restaurant was delightfully decorated for fall, with pumpkins, corn sheaves and chrysanthemums stacked up against walls and filling corners. Our coffee was accompanied by two tiny warm muffins and then we were brought a glass of champagne to accompany our meal. I didn't realize how hungry I was until I smelled the bacon and we gratefully tucked in once our plates arrived. Everything was wonderful apart from the home fries. i didn't have my glasses on and could have sworn that they were canned mushrooms until I tasted them. Soft, brown and soggy, like they'd been reheated a few times. Pretty weird considering everything else was so good...
With full tummies we headed to the animal sanctuary and found we were among the first to arrive.
We had a quick look around the silent auction which was being set up. They had some fabulous stuff here but I'm not sure anyone would want this guitar, signed by the band members of Styx for $1000.
Then we walked over to the pigs. I'd never been so close to so many before and we were allowed to get in the field with them and walk about.
These were obviously very contented and happy porkers. I felt pretty guilty about my recent brunch and tried to make amends with lots of scratching, rubbing and tickling, which went down very well. Many of them just laid on the ground, grunting happily as I administered massages with lots of loving words and before long I was nearly as muddy as them. Some rubbed up against me while others just laid back, lapping up the fuss while squinting at me with their little eyes.
And this chap spent a good 15 minutes doing what pigs do best before settling down for a nap. Video here.
 The two photos above really show how large some of these omnivores were. I had initially been a little nervous, having read the Hannibal Lector books, and knew they would just as happily munch on me as I had on them earlier on. I was really having a problem with this fact and realized that I would never make a farmer or be able to have a small holding if it meant my stock was for eating. But at least my new friends here would never end up on a plate and I enjoyed watching them so evidently relishing their sanctuary.
The horse, Darcy, on the left was once a racehorse. He had been left inside the gates one day with his eyes infected and severely malnourished. He is now blind but looking much healthier and so he can find the other horses, they all wear little bells on their halters. In the distance to the right is Gloria, a 38 year old mule.
They had great food with local beer and wine being served, although their alcohol prices were way too low, so I told them. After all, today was a day to raise money for the animals.
This dear little chap is Andy, an 18 month old sheep who was brought to the sanctuary and left by an owner who never got an infection looked at. This resulted in his back legs being paralysed and so now he has a little cart which he powers with his front legs. The sanctuary is looking to raise money for a larger cart since he is outgrowing his current one. He loved all the attention he got from his new friends and his dear little face brought a lump to my throat.
 There's also a large area with a barn and outbuildings for a variety of hens, ducks, gooses, a turkey and a peacock, with a few rabbits roaming amongst them all too. Everyone seems to get on wonderfully and even the local deer even bring their babies here to leave them in safety while they go looking for food.
Edward the peacock arrived in 2005 at 1 year old, he'd been confiscated by authorities after being left outside in snow and ice with no food or water. Madison and Tallulah came from an organic turkey farm and were donated by their rescuer who couldn't keep them. Lola the bunny arrived in 2010 when a college student realized that her new pet wouldn't have a good life in a college dorm. Perry the turkey was left in a crate on the sanctuary's driveway on Thanksgiving 2012.
Another large field with a barn is home to some sheeps and goats, who again are very friendly and sociable. I would have liked to get in among them and distribute some cuddles but the lines were very long, the staff were very thoughtfully limiting the number of visitors in the field at one time.
We went back to the silent auction and I placed a couple of bids on a picture I really loved, of a boat sitting on still water in the serenity of a silent morning mist. My second bid was the last on the list and with less than 10 minutes before the end of the auction I hovered and paced up and down and around the table, trying not to look too obvious. And then suddenly time was called, it was mine! But a lady walked up to my sheet with a pencil in hand, and looked as though she was about to write a late bid, until I politely whispered that the auction had ended. She graciously backed off. I'll put a better photo up on my daily photo blog.
I'm pretty sure Poplar Springs had a wonderfully successful event and raised plenty of money. They haven't posted anything yet on their website which is here. They certainly had a great turn out and have a fabulous group of people helping them and the animals. I think I'll be making this an annual event.
Carolyn, Nancy and I got in our cars and decided to grab dinner in Leesburg. We trundled through country lanes before taking the Whites Ferry back to Virginia. It was quite amusing sitting in our cars with a multitude of skeletons, who were waiting for Halloween,  looking down at us. I also wondered later if our day at the animal sanctuary had subconsciously affected us as we all, without saying anything,  avoided anything that contained meat on the menu for dinner!

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