Sunday, May 29, 2016

Morning at the sanctuary - Part 1

(The week before the long weekend, my friend  Nancy and I looked after RASTA, the sanctuary where we have both volunteered regularly since its move here from Alberta almost a year ago.  With Lucie, the owner, away, we alternated staying there for a couple of days at a time, to accommodate our other obligations.  I took the first shift, and thus got to be first to experience the sanctuary awakening, and first to do the chores all by myself.  This entry was written before the morning feeds. Part 2, safe to tell now that Lucie is back home and won't worry that she may have left the sanctuary in charge of  an incompetent nincompoop, will cover the fun of feeding 21 pigs, two donkeys, a mini horse, a giant steer, two rambunctious goats, and numerous opinionated farmbirds. Part 3 will highlight some of my favourite 'magic moments' and favourite photos from my stay there)

It has been seven years this June since I left my own acreage where I woke early each morning to feed my foster family of twelve potbellied pigs and an alpaca, and trek up the hilly pasture with my four senior dogs to watch the sunrise.  I had forgotten the magic those mornings brought into my life, but the memories came flooding back last week as I sanctuary-sat RASTA. Here's how my first morning unfolded:

It is 5:00 AM and I have slept well.  I wander upstairs to put on the coffee. The cats greet me, clamoring for their food as I open the door to the deck.  I feed them and step outside to watch the sunrise through the trees.

Sunrise at the Sanctuary

Roxie approaches for pats and breakfast.


Slowly the morning awakens.  Bob the Rooster crows his wake up call, and Splash the Duck mutters to himself as he waddles across the lawn.

Wake up! WAKE UP!  It's morning!

Oh boy another new day what shall I do today let's wake up my friends where is the food lady life is so grand! 


The pigs, except those in the seniors' pen who are still fast asleep, drift out to the pasture with the donkeys Romeo and Tango, and Theo the steer, and Toby the mini horse.  They graze on the new shoots of grass as they occasionally look my way to see if I am ready to feed them yet.  Simon and Garfunkel, the goats, bleat their greetings  and run out to join the others, jumping and head butting as they go.  They take joy in each and every moment, so glad to be alive.

Toby, Tango and Romeo grazing in the morning sun.

Hey, camera lady, I see you on the deck!  Is it breakfast time yet?


I return inside to my little bichon frise, Mitzi, and take her out the back door to do her morning business. She moves across the lawn like a hound dog, nose to the ground, body quivering ecstatically with all the new smells.  She is a farm girl at heart, despite her 8 pound, fluffy white Princess exterior.  She raises her nose and one paw, in pointer fashion, as she watches the ducks move across the grass.  I'm unable to capture it well with the camera as I must watch Mitzi like a hawk whenever she is outside here, lest the hawks (or owls or eagles) swoop across the field and snatch her up for their breakfast.

Mitzi, the hound-pointer-bichon frise farmgirl.


As I sip the last of my coffee, two squirrels come out to inspect the farmbird dishes for any seeds that might be left from the night before, and a bird flies off with duck down in its beak,  ready to feather its nest.

Hey, where's the seed?

Thank you, ducks, for this down for my nest! 

The cats join us, saying good morning to Mitzi nose to nose.  Roxie is particularly fond of Mitzi, rubbing up against her repeatedly, claiming her for a new BFF.  Mitzi seems amused by this, not in the least alarmed despite being familiar only with my own cantankerous tortie cat who is as likely to attack her as befriend her. Roxie purrs and rubs herself along Mitzi's other side.

At last, coffee gone, I put Mitzi back in the house and prepare the morning feeds.  It takes but one motion of the scoop into the large bin of pellets for the senior pigs to shake the straw from their backs,  and for the junior ones with their equine friends to come racing in from the pasture. Breakfast is about to be served!

Widget wakes up

Breakfast!  We hear the pellets being scooped!  Oh boy oh boy oh boy!

To be continued.....

7 comments:

barb said...

Loved it, Jean...can't wait for next installment!
barb and the furry ones

Anonymous said...

enjoyed your blog :)

Mollie said...

Love the blog and photos! How wonderful for the critters to have a home at RASTA and to have people like you, Nanc and others committed to their care. Blessings to you all.

Vicky Minich said...

Thanks for sharing. Love it!

Marie said...

Great start to the day, mornings are the Best! Thanks for the story of your stay and as per usual, for the pictures. Loving pets for Mitzi! She needs a cowgirl hat.

Jean said...

LOL, Marie, I thought the same thing about the cowgirl hat, but Mitzi says NO NO NO hats! I'm thinking I might talk her into a bandanna for our next adventure, horsesitting up island.

Jill said...

Well I'm totally jealous Jean, but also so happy Lucie has such wonderful trustworthy people to step in and help - in a second I would leave Calgary and move to Chemainus to help - any place for me to live? Thank you for all the help. Jill