So I spent the 4th over at my new volunteer job at a farm animal sanctuary near my house. I have a four day internship on animal care before they set me loose on the poor critters. I had idyllic 'All Creatures Great And Small' pictures in my head of how things would be; me gently cradling baby lambs as the wind whispered softly through the meadow...that kind of thing. It couldn't have been less like that. As I put on my Facebook status when I got home, "I'm exhaused, sweaty, smelly and covered in goat poop, pig slop, llama spit and duck feathers. I haven't been this happy in a very. long. time."
The main tasks in the morning are to feed and water all of the animals and take the ones outside that are allowed in the pasture. This seemed along the lines of what I expected, until I was told to take a Tylenol taco to the black pig in the sty out back. Uh, you want me to take a what? Where? To Whom? The lead volunteer took a lettuce leaf, loaded it up with copious amounts of peanut butter and 3 Tylenol, rolled it up like a taco and had me take it out to Betty-the-black-pig who has arthritis in her legs. Betty snarked'er right down so it wasn't a problem, but none of my previous dreams about farm life had anything to do with Tylenol Tacos.
I lugged water and feed and hay and animals too and fro until the leader summoned me to the goat pen. My next task was to take a plastic bucket filled with pretzels and walk the length of the barn and out into the fenced in yard with it. Because I don't know nuthin' 'bout no farmin' I did as I was told. When I looked behind me I had a parade of 4 goats and two sheep hot on my heels. Yes the ovines and caprines (look it up, I had to) are pretzel junkies apparently. Getting them into the pen was uber easy. We closed the gate and spent a few pleasant moments rewarding their addiction with the salty snacks. Then I realized that to get out of the pen, I'd have to climb out over the 6 foot gate because if we opened it again (particularly since I was still holding the pretzel bucket) the hungry hoard would come right out with us. I was built for comfort, not scaling tall buildings, but it wasn't bad. Good thing since I was up and over the thing twelve more times before I came home.
My favorite task was socializing the new ducklings. These ducks are bigger than the Easter babies you commonly see. It's say they are 1/2-2/3 the way full grown. The farm emphasises animal therapy so the ducklings have to get used to being picked up and held. Score after 45 minutes of work? Molly 1: Ducks 2. The little one was OK with it, the middle one settled down for a bit before he totally flipped out and then large one nearly beat me to death. I'll be back ducklings!
I think I did pretty well for the first day. There were no injuries to myself or any of the animals. I also feel especially skilled that I could do all that was asked of me on one leg since the other one was stretched out to the side most of the time keeping a particularly amorous Tom Turkey at bay. He only nailed me once in the hip when I wasn't looking. It didn't hurt so I wasn't quite sure of his intentions-if it was an attack, it was halfhearted at best. If it wasn't an attack...well I'm not interested in bein' one of his 'womens'...especially since he has two 'womens' already!
Overall, I LOVE my new job and am eagerly awaiting my next shift. Something tells me, with this cast of characters, there will be plenty of stories to tell!