Spring is in the air, and everyone at our New York Shelter knows it. With the change of the seasons come many changes around the farm. As they begin to spend most of their hours outdoors, all of the animals spring to life. There is a distinct bounce in every animal’s step, and they eagerly spill out of the barns each morning to greet the day.
The emergence of chickens, goats and pigs is especially notable, as they burst out of the barns where they bunkered down for the long winter. During those cold months, many of them hate going out – even when we are cleaning their barns. But in the springtime, all that changes.
Spring is the goats’ favorite time of year. As soon as the first flurries of winter appear, they become quieter and less active. But the second spring hits, they change their tune. The goats love to spend their days sunbathing, and when they aren’t leisurely soaking in rays, they can be found playing lively head-butting games and running full speed around their pastures.
There’s even more excitement in store for the goats and our other residents as the weather warms: once the grass has grown in, we will start moving them onto bigger pastures. Weather permitting, all 200 ruminants at the sanctuary can eat fresh grass all day long from May through September, which they love.
Our residents aren’t the only ones spending more time outdoors. The whole farm is buzzing with activity as our shelter staff engages in a little spring cleaning. The maintenance crew works hard to repair gutters and roofing damaged by winter storms, fences affected by snow and fallen branches, and doors and gates which require adjusting due to frost heave. Some barns need repainting after taking a beating from ice storms, and areas torn up by tractors need fixing as frozen earth turns to mud. There is always so much to do!
As caregivers, our day gets longer when the animals’ day gets longer. They are all let out when the sun comes up and led back to the safety of their barns at dusk. This makes for a very long day – and requires more hands – as daylight hours grow longer into the summer. Nevertheless, we’re happy to accommodate so that the animals have access to the sunshine as long as possible, which is one of the pleasures they live for!
Top photo: Ami goat, soaking up some rays!