When dear Ingrid the hen tore a muscle at Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary, our team of carers sprang into action to arrange a custom-built wheelchair to help with her recovery. Little did she or we know that her story would capture the hearts of the nation! Whilst a chicken in a wheelchair is a unique sight, it was never in question that this was the best course of action for the beloved bird.
Over and over, the ability of animals to cope in the face of adversity inspires us to become more creative and innovative to ensure they can have lives truly worth living. In Ingrid’s case that meant a wheelchair, laser therapy, and of course kindness in abundance.
Ingrid is a ‘broiler’ chicken, a bird selectively bred for consumption, which means her genetics are geared towards rapid growth. This presents a unique set of challenges when caring for these birds who were only ever meant to live around five short weeks.
However, experience over the years caring for rescued chickens bred for meat has taught our team at Edgar’s Mission much, none the least how curious and endearing these birds are.
Despite their large size, they still have the same zest for life as their smaller counterpart chickens. Through special diets, exercise and lots of enrichment, many of these feathered wonders have gone on to live several happy and fulfilled years.
Footage of Ingrid enjoying a meal from the comfort of her wheelchair attracted national media attention, with the plucky hen appearing in the national news.
Ingrid’s story has touched the hearts and minds of kind hearts everywhere, and has brought the plight of ‘broiler’ chickens into the public sphere.
This resilient girl has now found a loving forever home and is back to dustbathing and exploring the world around her. Despite being whitewashed into uniformity, it is clear to all who spend time with her and her kind that chickens are worth so much more than a moment of taste gratification.
We don’t know how this sweet newborn lamb came to be separated from his mother and flock, but we do know that had Hakuna Matata not been found, he would have surely perished. And we do know desperately he wanted to live.
Tragically, premature death is an all too common story for sheep and lambs in the colder months. In Australia alone it’s estimated 15 million lambs die within 48 hours of birth, mostly related to cold exposure. Many farmed sheep have no access to shelter, even when heavily pregnant.
As is proven with every life we save, each lamb has an individual character and captures hearts far and wide. It was pure luck Hakuna Matata’s plight was noticed by a compassionate young soul and he was given a second chance at life.
Now he will never be identified by his market value but by name – a simple gesture of intrinsic worth we take for granted, yet most farmed animals are denied.
You wouldn’t know it just by looking at him, however Hakuna Matata now has unwittingly taken on the task of pulling the wool from people’s eyes. And by doing so he is showing one and all that behind every lamb roast there is a sweet, innocent baby who simply wanted to live.
The early morning call to advise that our Christmas presents were at the front gate got our attention, but we never could have imagined what awaited us there.As we approached the two large boxes and found ten glorious, chirping baby turkeys within, the sound of tyres crunching gravel as a car sped off down the road could be heard in the distance.
Finding safety at Edgar’s Mission, they soon entered a home where they would never be surrounded by cranberry sauce or filled with stuffing, but rather one in which kind hearts will spare them from ever being the centrepiece of a dinner table.
Handsome Ballerina was one of the lucky few.
Sadly, Ballerina and his domestically raised kin have been selectively bred to grow big and fast with as little feed as possible, leaving them with developing bones burdened under the weight of oversized muscles.
Breeding now requires the artificial insemination of females due to fact natural mating is an impossibility because of their unnatural size.
Given the chance turkeys are incredibly kind and indeed forgiving, as Ballerina so admirably demonstrates on a daily basis. But in factory farms, they endure the amputation of their toes and beaks to combat the resulting aggression that develops in the severely cramped conditions under which these birds are forced to exist.
Three years on, Ballerina spends his days caring for his ladies Preena and Tiny Tina, and wandering the sanctuary in search of the next person he can treat to his serenading dance and be bestowed with a pat on his sweet head, purring all the while.
And, yes, turkeys can purr; this happy and contented sound serves to remind people that although he may look different from their beloved pets, Ballerina has all the hallmarks of experiencing the world in much the same way as they do.
As the festive season sped towards its climax, a pregnant sow gave birth to seven little piglets. Yet sadly, only three would survive. The cold, wet and wind-swept concrete of the pound yard made it a barren place, a place that provided no material for Carol to build the extravagant nest her every being was telling to build. Expectant mother pigs go to great and creative lengths, collecting sticks, twigs and branches to fashion a nest to safely birth their babies in.
Despite her fear, Carol remained gentle as she followed the crate of her surviving babies into the vehicle that would take them to their forever home, and the soft golden straw-filled barn that awaited. Her sweet songs of joy as she was reunited with her piglets ensured there wasn’t a dry eye in the manger.
We could not help but wonder, looking into her intelligent eyes, what made her determine her escape from the farm in which she had been held? Perhaps it was the thought of her babies being taken away from her as all her previous ones had; perhaps she dreamed something better lay ahead.
What we do know is that Carol, Cookie, Candy and Kris Kringle found sanctuary at Edgar’s Mission together, just in time for Christmas.
*While we don’t know exactly what Carole is dreaming of, we do know she dreams. Possessed with the same neural pathways that are important for sleeping and dreaming, there is no reason to believe that pigs and indeed all other animals do otherwise.
Luckily for Carol and her babies, their dreams will carry on beyond this Christmas, but sadly for most other pigs theirs will not. Converted into pork, ham and bacon, no one will ever get to know what incredible and unique animals they really were.