October 2016 Barn Blog

We ♥ Our Animal—and Human!—Friends

By Shelby Deering / October 2016  

Before they arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary, many of our sweet animals sadly didn’t have a friend in the world. Ellie the pot bellied pig was hit and kicked by her owner, living her life in fear and isolation. Gracie the Emden Goose was winnie-right-after-rescuesurrendered to an animal shelter shortly after her goose partner died, which left her vulnerable to winter conditions and predators. Our chickens Pandora, Reggie, and Sweet Pea were each found as strays. And Winnie the pig tumbled out of a livestock truck, left to fend for herself until her rescuers arrived.

Now that these animals have found a home at Heartland, all of that has changed. Many of our animals have bonded, and even some interspecies friendships have formed—visit our Instagram page to see photos of sheep and geese, llamas and cows palling around.

New friendships have been blossoming at Heartland, especially amongst our rooster crew—Billy Zoom,Crocus, and Fonzie. Fonzie is our smallest rooster, and unfortunately, he lost his best friend Thunder earlier this summer. Billy Zoom and Crocus came to us from another shelter as potential buddies for Fonzie. Since then, these three have been inseparable, even though Billy Zoom and Crocus are much taller than tiny Fonzie. But he doesn’t seem to mind.

When Tank came to us in August, we had high hopes of the formerly aggressive pot bellied pig forming a bond with our other male pot bellied pig, Percy. We are delighted to see that these two are best buds! They now share the same pasture during the day, and both of them get along great with our newest rescue pigs. Our staff and volunteers were pleasantly surprised to see how quickly the two pigs took to one another.

resized_20160917_114311-1Percy has plenty of human friends, too, meeting lots of nice people as he goes on visits to various community organizations, clubs, and workplaces. Percy is our mascot for our Pot Bellied Pig Campaign, an effort that serves to educate the public about the responsibilities of caring for these animals. We’ll be wrapping up the campaign by the end of October.

Fall Camp, which started on September 1 and will run on Saturdays through November 5, has fostered friendships between the children and our animals. The campers have been helping us with barn chores, doing fun outdoor activities, making crafts, and playing games. The animals love the extra attention and cuddles.

Our friends and supporters have been turning out for Heartland’s recent events, like the Stable Supporter Appreciation Party held on September 25. We transformed the barn into a festive space, complete with adorable farm animal-themed decorations made by our Fall Camp participants. Our Stable Supporters, who have committed to giving monthly donations to Heartland, enjoyed a lovely evening filled with delicious vegan chili, cornbread, and chocolate truffles, all provided by Madison’s Green Owl Café. We also offered barn tours, and our monthly donors loved meeting the animals they support with their generous contributions.

We have many more events coming up for our Heartland friends! We will be holding a fundraiser, Clucks in the Courtyard, on October 22 at Madison’s Robinia Courtyard, and it’ll be open to the public. Enjoy fabulous appetizers, beer, wine, “pigtails” and hang out with Sherman the sheep, Percy pig, and a couple of friendly chickens!

Our feathered friends are gearing up for our sixth annual Thanksgiving for the Turkeys, set for Saturday, November 19. The _dsc2580doors will open at 10:00 a.m., and the feasting will begin at 10:30. After the turkeys have their very own special Thanksgiving meal, we’ll be giving barn tours and sharing goodies with our other animals. Be sure to register ahead of time, and we’d love it if you could bring treats for the animals, like bananas, melons, canned or cooked pumpkin, dark, leafy greens, and peanut butter.

Lastly, we are hoping to host a winter festival in December, which will be our first-ever winter event! Stay tuned for details.

We couldn’t do what we do at Heartland without our volunteer friends, such as Laura Velotta and her husband Mike who are helping us winterize the barn. Windows have been reinstalled and sheets of plastic have been put over the windows to prevent those chilly drafts. It’s a huge job, tackled by amazingly dedicated volunteers.

Each winter, our biggest goal is to keep our animal pals warm. Straw bales are lined along animal stalls to provide extra warmth, and all of the animals, from pigs to ducks, enjoy the additional straw added to their beds. They snuggle in their little straw nests to get through the freezing winter nights, and some get covered with blankets as well. One bale of straw costs between $2.50 and $3.50, so if you are able to contribute to our straw fund, your help would be greatly appreciated. We also accept donations of clean, used blankets and quilts.

Another way to support the farm is through purchasing Heartland products—and guess what? Soon, we’ll be opening our own miniature store in the riding arena, filled with Heartland merchandise.

The heart of Heartland truly is the friendships, the ones between the animals, between us and the volunteers, and the ones with our wonderful donors. It’s a place filled with warmth and compassion, a place where animals finally find friends to call their own.