As I sit here at Lanza's Cafe in Carrboro sipping on a yummy oat milk latte reflecting on this past year, my head is just spinning with gratitude. Seriously, what an amazing year for our little sanctuary in the woods!
First, let's start with our star players - the animals. Can you believe we rescued five new pigs this year? That may not seem like a large number in the world of animal rescue, but it's a lot for a little sanctuary like ours, and it's definitely a big deal for the pigs whose lives are forever changed. What a proud feeling knowing they will be safe and loved for the rest of their lives!
Let's all raise a toast to our 2021 newcomers Roxy, Janice, Abigail, Randie Lou, and Penny Lane!! Here's a short recap of their stories.
Roxy came to us from a nice family in Raleigh who found themselves unable to care for their little dollbaby. She's been a total joy to care for, and she's settled right in with the herd little nobody's business. We love how she jumps up and down in excitement at feeding time!
Janice came to us from Clayton, where she was in a confined area with dogs who had started attacking her. When she arrived, those little ears were all ripped and bloody, but now they've completely healed and are just as perky as ever. We discovered by accident that she sits for treats! We love Miss Janice!
Abigail came to us last spring from an extremely neglectful situation outside of Charlotte. She was literally lying in a pile of trash behind a trailer when we pulled up. You would think she would hate humans for treating her so badly, but she's a trusting soul. We've learned so much about compassion and forgiveness from her. We are committed to treating her like a queen for the rest of her sweet life.
Randie Lou and Penny Lane
Randie Lou and Penny Lane are our latest rescues. They are truly a rags-to-riches story in the making, and we couldn't love them more. Their past may be scarred with Randie's obesity problem, the dog attacks that left Penny with only one ear and a permanent limp, and their filthy living conditions in a urine-soaked mud hole, but that's not stopping these two beauties from living life to the fullest these days. Now they have a warm house, woods to roam, and plenty of healthy food and fresh water for the rest of their lives!
For the first time in two years, we are happy to annouce that we didn't lose any pigs this year. What a relief! Reporting a death is one of the saddest parts of this animal rescue business, and we are so grateful that we didn't have to deliver that sad news this year. We're praying that we can say the same thing this time next year.
Now let's talk about our second favorite subject (behind the animals, of course) - you! We couldn't do what we do without our wonderful supporters, and we are forever grateful. You are helping us give these beautiful souls a life of luxury - a life that they truly deserve - on THEIR terms. And for that, you should be proud. You ARE making a difference, trust me!
We've had several successful Facebook fundraisers this year, raising approximately $6703. We have more pig and rooster residents than ever before in our 6.5 years in the rescue business, so it only makes sense that we have more expenses than ever. I just can't stress how much we depend on these fundraisers. We literally could not continue to rescue and care for our sanctuary residents without your support. Every penny of donations goes directly to the animals, and that is the honest truth. And because we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, donations are always tax deductible!
We also partnered with Cuddly this year to raise funds for the animals. We'd like to give a huge shout-out to Sydney for helping us organize and promote those fundraisers to spread the word about our mission and financial needs. We've been totally humbled by the support we've received from all over the country from total strangers. We truly believe that people are innately compassionate and want to help, and that makes us happy.
Now for a huge shout-out to all our amazing volunteers and visitors! UNC Vegans for Peace - we're looking directly at you when we say THANK YOU! We have so many "repeat offenders" to the sanctuary from that wonderful group, and we are thrilled. We truly believe that "pig therapy" is a real thing, and we always encourage folks to come out and experience it for themselves. Spending time with the animals has a way of cleansing the soul and filling our hearts with joy. Our lives are forever changed by their innocence and beauty, and if you haven't experienced it for yourself, let's set up a visit!
Here's just a couple of photos of some of the wonderful families who took time to come out and visit the animals this year. We have so many photos, it's hard to choose!
Now let me recap all the great improvements we've made this year. I just get giddy when I think about all the awesome things we've accomplished! Bear with us - the list is LONG!
New drainage system
We used to have quite an annoying drainage issue in the pig area. We're already on low ground, but what makes matters even worse is that water runoff from neighboring properties make a beeline for the pig barn. Sometimes the water was so deep that the pigs had trouble moving through it. Thanks to your donations, we were able to hire a landscaping company to dig out trenches and add piping to direct the water around the barn and into a neighboring creek. Now, instead of a mess of mud and runoff, we have a nice stream of running water for the pigs to wade in and explore.
New quarantine space
When Abigail came to us in the spring, we soon realized that she would have to be permanently separated from the other pigs for a long time, possibly for the rest of her life. Her severly arthritic feet would never allow her to acclimate to the herd and get in and out of the barn using the ramps. So when she moved in to the only quarantine space that we had, we knew we needed to build another one. And when we got the call about Randie Lou and Penny Lane, we knew we had to act fast.
And here it is!! Thank you so much to Randy Mapes for dedicating himself to the project and making the new space super luxurious for Randie Lou and Penny Lane!
Electricity in the barn
We now have electricity in the barn! Before, we had to run several extension cords from the house, which I'm sure was a fire hazard with all the heat lamps, fans, and lights. Now we have electrical outlets in each stall for the heat lamps, and we were even able to put a refrigerator in the barn to store home-cooked pig food, produce, and sodas for volunteers!
New water line
Using your donations, we were able to install a new water line from the well directly to the barn! Before, we were stringing hoses together and running them from the house. Trust me, those hoses split open, get stopped up with mud, and freeze at the drop of a hat. With the new water line, we now have water at our finger tips and can fill up those water bowls and swimming pools without having to deal with all those annoying water hoses!
Our new feeding station is a game changer! No more bending over to fill up bowls, standing in the mud, getting rained on, and dragging food back and forth from the barn. Our feeding station has made feeding time so much more efficient! We went from having a single wooden platform on the ground with no cover to....drum roll, please....this! Woot!!
New gravel road
OK this one is huge. We now have a gravel road that allows us to drive all the way down to the barn from the main road! This is a game changer for loading straw and feed (we used to have to haul all that stuff from our personal driveway on a wheelbarrow). Visitors now have plenty of parking space, and even our vet's big truck can make it down safely!
A new outhouse
OK I know this one might seem a little weird, but we are thrilled! Now visitors and volunteers have a private spot to "do their business" when visiting the animals. It's just a little something we've been wanting for a long time, and thanks to Randy Mapes, we have the most awesome outhouse you could even imagine!
A new water platform
After much frustration with Petey the farm pig constantly knocking over the water bowls (he's a toddler, after all), Randy Mapes came to the rescue and built us a platform to secure the water tubs in place. And it comes with its own platform for folks to stand on and visit with the animals without getting feet muddy.
And finally, let me give a shout-out to some folks and organizations who have played a key role in our success this year!
Julia Green - you are a fantastic writing coach, and with your help, I feel like I am so better equipped to write my children's book about the animals. You've taught me so much over the months, and I can't wait to see where this book leads me!
Dr. Shannon Swink - thank you for being such an awesome and caring veterinarian for the animals. I can always trust your advice, and you're always so compassionate. Thank you!
Piedmont Feed Store - thank you for all the hundreds of times you've helped me load feed and supplies in my car! Your store is such a gem in White Cross!
Randy Mapes - Randy has been a game changer for us! There's absolutely nothing he can't do! Randy is responsible for a lot of our new improvements this year, including the water platform, the outhouse, and our new quarantine space. He was also instrumental in our rescue of Randie Lou (named after Randy) and Penny Lane (named after Randy's wife). We thank you from the bottom of our hooves, Randy!
Sylvia Leaver - Sylvia is an amazing artist, and lucky for us, she loves painting pictures of our pigs! We will be featuring Sylvia's artwork in our upcoming children's book, and we are truly honored!
James Davis - Thanks to my personal trainer James for keeping me motivated to stay strong and healthy, just like a farm girl should be!
Christ United Methodist Church - our "second" sanctuary! What a wonderful, supportive group of folks who aren't scared to add a pig or two to their weekly prayer list. Thank you!
Margaret's Cantina - thank you for all the food donations to the animals! You can't blame the pigs for loving all that homemade Tex-Mex food!
Sara Gress - our wonderful neighbor and "on call" caretaker. You've been a lifesaver when we needed help, and we appreciate you so much!
Lanza's Cafe in Carrboro - if you ever try to write a children's book and need some inspiration, this is the place to be! Thank you Christina, Catherine, and all the wonderful staff for making me yummy lattes, serving me awesome food, and letting me camp out and write!