The Barn Blog

Care and Compassion at the Farm

By Shelby Deering | October 2017

Fall marks a time when the days slow down a bit, drawing attention to the care our bodies and minds need before winter is upon us. This is true of humans, and it’s true of animals. Sometimes, we all need a little extra care and compassion in our lives. And this is the season we emphasize just that.

On October 1, two Cornish chickens were dearly in need of some of that additional care. Tofu and  Popcorn were rescued from a Kaporos ritual, a practice during which sadly thousands of chickens are sacrificed. This type of chicken is bred to grow very quickly in a short amount of time. That’s why they’re both considered to be special-needs chickens, since their diet and activity need to be closely monitored. They’re both very inquisitive, and they love to explore and be outdoors, otherwise known as their happy place. They revel in the company of people, preferring to sit on laps and have their feathers stroked.

At this year’s Fall Camp, our campers have been taking extra-special care of our farm animal friends. That’s how our Saturdays start at the barn—caring for the animals, something the kids truly look forward to. They’ve also enjoyed researching the history and physical features of each Heartland resident, with a goal in mind to create a binder for visitors and volunteers that’ll help them learn about our animals. In the process, the campers learning a lot themselves.

Camp started a week before our annual Barn Dance (thank you to all who attended!) and the campers were a huge help in making the event a success. They decorated the tables with adorable dioramas of Heartland scenes—a crowd favorite was the one of Opal climbing the goat shelter. They also ran a silly photo booth, sold pendants of Heartland’s animals, and led an arts and crafts station for little ones. We’re so grateful to the kids for their hard work!

In addition to caring for the animals, campers focus on self-care as well. We are continuing our mindfulness curriculum in the pasture with the goats. We go on beautiful hikes down the hill to pick apples. We gather in the barn for fun craft projects and games. We take time to just relax and soak up everything we love most about fall.

Before winter, our barn receives even more care and attention. Winterizing has begun, and volunteers have been putting in windows, nailing sides on the animal shelters to block the wind, and putting the gardens to bed. We’ve also started stockpiling straw for animal bedding, along with sand and ice melt to keep the volunteers and animals safe from slick surfaces.

Winterizing can be an expensive process, and we would appreciate any help our supporters can offer. Feel free to follow this link to give what you can.

We show our fans how much we care through our fun and uplifting Heartland events, like our upcoming Halloween-themed barn tours. We’re hosting two tours on Saturday, October 28, from 1 to 3 p.m., and we’re encouraging all attendees to wear festive costumes to the barn! The animals will be handing out plenty of tricks, along with some treats, too.

Percy the potbelly pig and Cookie the dwarf horse will be making an appearance at Halloween Family Day at Robinia Courtyard. We’ll be there with a staffed table full of Heartland literature—Percy and Cookie can’t wait.

And of course, our beloved event Thanksgiving for the Turkeys is coming up, scheduled for Saturday, November 18 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. The barn will be open for self-guided tours after the birds have finished feasting. More info will be available on our website soon.

Care is our top priority here at Heartland. And we have found all too often that while we are caring for our farm animal residents, in their own way, they are caring for us. Their warm presences, their palpable feelings of gratitude, and their good hearts simply make our worlds better. That goes for visitors, campers, therapy participants, and supporters, too.


Catch up on all things Heartland by reading our previous posts!