November 2016 Barn Blog

Birds of a Feather Flock Together Here at Heartland

By Shelby Deering / November 2016

According to Farm Sanctuary, a national nonprofit that cares for animals in need just like we do here at Heartland, around 46 million turkeys perish each year to be served at Thanksgiving dinner tables. Naturally, this stat makes us feel pretty sad. Because we know that our turkeys, chickens, ducks, and geese are intelligent, gentle creatures that crave affection just like dogs and cats do.

That’s why we’ve made our turkeys the guests of honor at our 6th annual Thanksgiving for the Turkeys event on Saturday, _dsc2584November 19. The doors will open at 10:00 a.m., and feasting will start at 10:30. After the turkeys have had their fill, guests can take a tour of the barn and meet the rest of our feathered (and not-so-feathered) friends. We’d love it if people can register ahead of time, so feel free to purchase your tickets on our website. A $25 ticket includes a turkey sponsorship, a $15 ticket will provide general admission, and a child’s ticket is $10.

Like any Thanksgiving, you’re welcome to bring a “dish to pass”—or in this case, apples, grapes, cooked or canned pumpkin, dark leafy greens, any kind of melon, bananas, or peanut butter. Annie, Eddie, Jemma, Ms. Everdeen, and our other farm animals will be so grateful!

Plus, we’re aiming to have our “miniature store” open in the riding arena just in time for this event, where guests are sure to “gobble” up our adorable Heartland products.

Although our turkeys are receiving some special treatment this month, one of our chickens has been living high-on-the-hog, sarah-in-the-trailertoo, so to speak. Sarah the chicken, one of our 126 rescues from a cockfighting ring, started to develop an infected toe in September. She needed intensive medical care that included soaking her foot three times a day and administering antibiotics and pain medications.

So—we moved her into our office trailer! This way, she could be monitored and treated easily by the staff. Now her official nickname is the “Trailer Chicken,” and she’s certainly ruling the roost—observing the kitties, investigating the goings-on of the office, sitting on laps and computers, looking in the refrigerator, and of course, sharing many lunches. It’s been fun sharing the space with her, but now that her toe is nearly healed, it’ll soon be time for her to join the rest of her flock. Hopefully she won’t brag to her friends too much.

Our Clucks in the Courtyard event really took flight in October, and we were so elated with its success. Held at the beautiful dsc_0822Robinia Courtyard on East Washington Avenue, we enjoyed a pleasant afternoon filled with delicious eats provided by Black Locust Cafe, Julep, Barolo Wine Bar, and The Heirloom Bakery and Kitchen. Black Locust Cafe donated the house wine, and beer was provided courtesy of Ale Asylum. Guests had the chance to bid on gorgeous original watercolor paintings created by Elizabeth Way (featuring Heartland’s own animals) and colorful metal farm animal sculptures donated by Nutzy Mutz & Crazy Catz. We’re thinking that special animal guests Percy the pig, Sherman the sheep, and Beaker the rooster even enjoyed the live entertainment from Lonesome Willie Jones and His Dime Store Posse!

dsc_0855All of this talk of animals of the feathered variety might have you thinking—I would love to have a chicken of my very own! Well, you’re in cluck—we mean— luck. Beaker the rooster is available for adoption! If you’re interested in adopting a companion rooster, email Heartland staff member Quincy Markowitz at

Now that we’ve wrapped up Clucks in the Courtyard, we’re on to planning our next event. On December 10 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00, we’ll be holding our first-ever winter event at the barn. We’ll have holiday trees available for businesses and organizations to sponsor, and guests are encouraged to bring gifts for the animals from our Sanctuary Wish List to put under Heartland’s tree. Bonus—there will be cookies, hot chocolate, apple cider—and perhaps some caroling for the animals! Tickets will go on sale on our website soon.

And don’t miss our upcoming Public Tours this month—November 12 at 1:30 p.m. and 3:00, and November 26 at 1:30 p.m. and 3:00.

We also love the people who have supported us through our Fall Work Days. Students from Edgewood College helped us winterize the barn by lining the stalls with straw bales, and they prepared one of the gardens for winter. We also had a group of UW School of Veterinary Medicine students come to vaccinate and deworm the goats, sheep, llamas, and cows, and they attended our chicken/duck education class to learn more about birds. In November, American Family Insurance, the Memorial High School Spartan Youth Service Group, and the UW Pre-Veterinary Club will also be joining us for work days.

On October 13, we were so honored when Heartland was featured in a segment on the Wisconsin Public Television show Wisconsin Life, and the number of people the show reached was impressive! The WPT crew came to the farm twice to get footage, meet our animals, and interview people who make Heartland possible. You’ll find the video at the bottom of our homepage.

At Heartland, it’s a thrill when we impart wisdom or educate people about our amazing animals. Many people find that the stereotypes simply aren’t true—that pigs are dirty creatures with no intelligence, or chickens just walk around and cluck and don’t do much else. All of our animals, birds included, want to be cared for in one form or another, whether it’s having their feathers stroked or simply providing warm beds where they can sleep every night. Turkeys, roosters, goats, cows, ducks, humans—we all just want to be loved.