Rescue work isn't for the faint of heart. The conditions we rescue these animals from at the slaughterhouse are hard to think about and the condition some are in upon arrival can be shocking. I try not to think about the neglect and fear they have experienced and try and focus on the easier, happier road they now have ahead.
Friday we rescued 16 goats from a local slaughterhouse. Countless times we ask why these sweet, beautiful animals end up where they do. A number of beautiful does, a few with udders full of milk, a couple of cute young does and a darling young Nubian buck (who won't be a buck much longer!) Most were overall healthy, having been seemingly well cared for at one time. And the most beautiful fawn colored young little Lamancha. For me, it was love at first sight. But she is skin and bones, she was packed in to a kill pen at the slaughterhouse. She was terrified and stressed. She cried throughout the first night. The next day she cried anytime we left her. Today she's settling in, she's rooming with Faye, eating and enjoyed a little sun bathing.
We are these animals only hope for survival. It all takes a lot of work. Work that can be long, expensive and exhausting. At the end of a long day at the rescue I'm dirty, I'm exhausted and usually have bruises and scratches that I have no idea how I've gotten. So why do I do it?
The Animals: Goats are joyous, funny and intelligent creatures. One of the most enjoyable parts of my time at the rescue is just sitting amongst them and getting to know their unique personalities. To watch them relax and become comfortable in their surroundings and realize that after whatever ordeal they have been through, they are now safe.
The Little Ones: Every year in addition to rescuing kids and lambs born at the slaughterhouse, we take in and bottle raise a number of breeder cull kids. (Typically wether quality boys) Who by coming to us have been spared knowing what life at an auction or slaughterhouse is like. One of my very favorite things is watching their bouncy excitement when they graduate from the "nursery" in the barn and get to experience pasture (and bigger play structures) for the first time.
By providing the animals the care & love they desperately need and crave, we are rewarded with their friendship.
The people: I've met some really wonderful people by volunteering at the rescue. People who I would never have met if it wasn't for the connection of goats. Social circles that never would have crossed. From Barbara and the other volunteers that work with the rescue to the countless people who have come to adopt goats or visit the farm. We all have a connection to the goats and have therefore been opened up to a connection with each other.
I may not have thousands of dollars to help fund the rescue, I wish I did. But I have time and a lot of love to give. I choose to spend my time and open my heart to these animals, to Barbara, to the rescue. It's my happy place. My therapy. It keeps me grounded. I'm helping animals with my own hands, it's a good feeling.
Today I walked out to the field where the main herd was grazing, among them most of our new arrivals from this weekends rescue. I just stood there and watched them. They were relaxed, grazing, enjoying the sun, coming by for a scratch on the cheek. It was the most relaxed and peaceful I have felt in weeks. I imagine the same was true for them. Without us, most probably wouldn't be alive today.
So the simple answer to why I do it? Because it is the absolute best feeling. The animals, the work we do, the fresh air, the dirt. Farm life is simply - a soul feeding life. Rescue work isn't for everyone. But for those of us it is for, we're a very lucky group of people.