In New England we often say that if you do not like the weather, wait 5 minutes. The high this week at Unity Farm Sanctuary was 70F and the low was 5F. We’ve had blankets on the horses overnight then removed them at dawn to prevent overheating. The flowers are blooming now but have frozen solid over cold nights. I fear that our apple crop will be diminished since the young buds will be damaged by killing frosts. There’s not much I can do to battle an unexpected cold snap.
The cold means that every creature - wild and domestic - struggles to stay warm. Turkeys and deer are coming to the barnyard seeking food. Yesterday we woke up to a new “puppy” running through the barnyard. The photos below show the young fox searching for mice and voles in one of the rock walls.
The newest pig at the Sanctuary, Penny Blossom, is a bundle of energy. She really values time with her humans and I’ve been taking her on multi-mile walks every day. She’s very comfortable with her leash and obeys every command. At the end of the walks, she’ll sit in my lap for belly rubs. She’s very comfortable with the other creatures at Unity Farm and wanders around the barn yard on her own (with supervision).
Hazel, our “alpha” pig, is a bit jealous. I’ve made sure she gets her share of belly rubs too.
On the days when the temperature creeps above 50F, the bees have started to gather pollen from emerging skunk cabbage. It’s been a rough winter for bees in New England because of the spread of viruses by varroa mite. We’re expecting 50% losses.
This week we put out a call for volunteers to serve as companions to our animals - offering time to help with their socialization and care. The response has been overwhelming. As we add more creatures, we’ll increasingly depend on volunteers since Kathy and I are limited by the 168 hour week. We only accept animals at the sanctuary when we are confident we can support every aspect of their lifecycle and needs.
This weekend, we’ll be continuing work on the new sanctuary paddocks and animal shelters. Next Friday (if the weather holds) we’ll begin clearing another acre of land. Our design for the new rescue areas will require half a mile of fencing, to be installed in the Spring. With every passing week, the sanctuary grows, providing the infrastructure to support our evolving animal community.
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