June Newsletter

Leilah Fundraiser

The Dirt Farm fundraiser was a great success. Over $3,000 was raised for Leilah, our handicapped baby goat.  Thank you so much to each of you who attended the event and to those who donated through the virtual fundraiser.  We are grateful to our wonderful volunteers who made this possible.  A special shout out to our Fundraising Director Kate Seserman and Marketing Director Kendra Rubinfeld for a spectacular job!

Leilah on the Move!

Leilah now has a wheelchair, and she is loving it.  As soon as she is strapped in, she heads for her favorite patch of vines for a snack.  Being mobile for the first time in her life is allowing her to have so many new experiences.  Simple things like grazing while standing, the feel of a full body shake, and hanging out with Petunia were never possible before her wheelchair.  You can see the joy on her face as her world expands each day.  When she is full grown, which should be November or December, Leilah will be fitted for prosthetics on both back legs.

Story Time in the Garden

On June 21st from 10:00-11:00 AM we will have the first of our summer story time events.  Children’s Activity Director Sheri Cooper will share some of her favorite books and then lead the group in fun hands-on activities.  Each child will create a leaf and flower print bandana to take home.  Story Time in the Garden is open to children ages 5 through 8 and pre-registration is required.  Contact us to register.  Suggested donation is $10 per child.

Gracie’s Place Cattery

Our Cattery is coming along nicely, and the newest residents, Miles and Fritz are starting to relax. Thanks to our generous supporters the cats have a nice variety of special hiding places for the times they feel overwhelmed. Bella’s special place is under her favorite blanket where she can peek out at visitors while 17-year-old Max, who is deaf, walks up to each person with a very loud and persistent greeting.  Katrina moved out of the cattery and into the main house. Bella, who gets along with all of the boys, let us all know that Katrina should not be part of the group, so a change was needed.  Everyone seems happy with the change and Katrina is enjoying sharing a queen size bed with her person.

Would you like to help us furnish the cattery?  The cats have created their own Chewy Wish List with both necessities and fun to have items.

Great Things are Happening

Our wonderful volunteers have been very busy. Thanks to their hard work and dedication we have new animal housing, a book box for the Children’s Nature Area, an improved paddock for the equines, a composting station in the discovery area, some charming additions to the gift shop, and Miniature Silky Fainting Goat Sinatra had a makeover. Thank you, team, – we couldn’t do this without you!  

Would you like to join our Volunteer Team? The minimum age to volunteer is 18 and available shifts are 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Contact us to receive an application.

Gift Shop

Our merchandise selection is expanding to include creations from local artisans.  In addition to our logo items and I-Love-Petunia line we will soon be offering cutting boards, jewelry, pottery, pet toys, and much more.  When the shop is fully stocked, we will have an open house to share these wonderful gifts.  If you have handmade products you would like to sell on consignment, get in touch with us.  We would love to talk to you.

Wildlife Habitat

Plans for a wildlife habitat began nine years ago.  After fencing off a dedicated area of the pasture, native trees and bushes were planted, and permaculture guilds created. Each year as the trees have grown the insect and bird populations have increased.  This year, to create more habitats for insects, we left more wild areas and mowed only the Children’s Nature Area and pathways. Leaving these natural habitats is having a positive impact on our native friends and is most noticeable in the firefly population.  The nights are now lit up and it is not unusual to have one, or a few, join you as you relax in the Adirondack chairs during the day.

Firefly populations are declining and need our help.  Following are suggestions from our friends at Plant NOVA Natives.

When fireflies start their early summer dance, will they pick your yard for their display? Like most insects (and like most vertebrate species except humans and farmed animals), firefly numbers are in a steep decline, but there are steps we can take to foster them on our properties. Taking those steps has far-reaching benefits even beyond the joy of having our own private light shows. What we do to create habitat for fireflies can go a long way toward restoring life to our yards in general.

The first step in creating usable habitat is to plant (and preserve) native plants and trees and to remove invasive non-native plants. This is because most plant-eating insects can only eat the plants with which they have evolved. Fireflies don’t eat plants, though, so how does this apply? The answer lies in the food web concept. Predatory insects such as fireflies, dragonflies, ladybeetles eat the critters that eat the native plants. Sources of native plants for your landscape can be found on the Plant NOVA Natives website.

The next step is to provide shelter and breeding sites. This translates into leaving the dead leaves in place and devoting as much of your yard as you can to natural landscaping. Dead leaves not only are home to many tiny critters including butterfly larvae, they are a welcome addition to landscaped areas, since they protect and nourish the soil. Perennials poke right up between them in the spring.

The third step may seem less intuitive but is understandable once you think about it: reducing outdoor lighting. If fireflies can’t see potential mates blinking, they won’t be able to get together. Light pollution has negative impacts on many other beings as well. Moths exhaust themselves circling around lights. Migrating birds have trouble navigating. We can help by using warm-spectrum LED lights bulbs 3,000 K or less (which don’t attract moths) and by installing motion-detectors, assuming any outdoor lighting is needed at all. Lighting up our properties at night is as rude to our non-human neighbors as playing loud music outdoors is to our human ones, only with more lethal consequences.

The final step is the simplest of all to implement: do not use insecticides outdoors unless there is a dire need, such as a hornet’s nest over the front door. There are many better ways to deal with mosquitoes and ticks. What most people don’t realize is that insecticides (such as sprays for adult mosquitoes) kill all insects, including fireflies, bees, butterflies, crickets and totally upset the natural balance between predators and prey that is necessary for a healthy garden and ecosystem. Outdoor chemicals in general have many unfortunate consequences for the environment, but the indiscriminate use of insecticides is the most immediately destructive.

The Choices We Make

If anyone reading this was asked, “Would you abuse an animal?” the answer would undoubtedly be a resounding “NO!.”  But every time we purchase a wool coat, a leather jacket, a silk scarf, or a down comforter we are enabling abusers and are active participants.

Knowledge is power and we can make a difference by refusing to buy items that cause animal suffering.  To learn about cruelty-free alternatives to animal products, read Animalkind by Ingrid Newkirk & Gene Stone.  Below are some excerpts.

  • Shearing can leave sheep with serious wounds. Videos shot inside shearing sheds show that shearers stomp or stand on the heads and necks of sheep, kick them, and slam them against wooden floors
  • Ducks and geese are often “live plucked.” For those who survive, once their feathers have grown back, the abusive process is repeated.  
  • Silkworms, the larvae of the Silk Moth, are boiled alive in their cocoon. Three thousand silkworms are needed to make a single pound of silk.  
  • China is the world’s leading exporter of leather and many of the gloves, belts, cat toys and other accessories actually come from the hides of domestic dogs. An investigation of a Chinese tannery that killed up to 200 dogs a day revealed extreme abuses. 

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