At the farm there is always a lot to do, and too little time to do it. Staff and volunteers work tirelessly to keep the nearly 400 rescued animals at the California Shelter fed, comfortable and healthy. But no time is busier than now when there are preparations taking place for Visitor Season and the hot summer months.
The shelter opens to visitors this weekend, and in a few weeks animal advocates from all over will join together for our annual Country Hoe Down event. Not only does the shelter need sprucing up with weeding, painting and other miscellaneous fix-it jobs, but the animals are in need of a little grooming too. The cattle and goats are brushed (which they absolutely love) to help them shed their protective winter coats and the sheep are very gently sheared to remove their warm wool coats. It is quite a sight to see our large herd of rescued sheep from Santa Cruz Island running around their pasture almost "naked" - with their pink skin showing through their shorter coats. And it is always a surprise to see which of the sheep are actually quite petite beneath all their thick wool.
Additional projects on the shelter include preparing for the warm weather summer brings, along with the threat of wildfires in the West. When it is more than 100 degrees outside, the small animals prefer to stay in their cooler and shaded barns – the chickens choose to dust bathe on their dirt floors, and sometimes even their food bowls, while the rabbits push away the straw to be in contact with the cool earth. The pigs, who we cover up with protective sunscreen every day, continue to venture out to their pond in the wee hours of the morning, but after breakfast, they make a thick straw bed and stretch out in front of one of the misters. The staff and interns keep a continuous eye on everyone, especially our older animals, to ensure they are safe and comfortable.
The warm, dry weather also brings threat of wildfires; however, every precaution is taken to protect the farm, including training all staff and interns on the proper use of the fire extinguishers stored in each barn, along with how to move animals into safe areas if necessary. In addition to mowing around all of the barns, a wide dirt fire break is created around the entire property. The cattle, however, think the break is made for them to roll around in – they love the dust!
Although the summer months are busy and tough, everyone quickly adapts to the change in season and enjoys the flocks of visitors who dole out their undivided attention to our animal residents. And before we know it, it’s time to prepare for the rain and our Thanksgiving Celebration FOR the Turkeys event.