|Bede's Story - A Poultry Place|
|Written by Bede Carmody|
|Wednesday, 04 May 2011 21:19|
In 1999 I decided to leave my comfortable inner city existence and move to a small rural village just outside of Canberra to assist some friends with their property. It was a chance to put my beliefs into action as I would be living and caring for numerous unwanted and rescued animals. While only intending to be a year-long commitment I enjoyed being hands-on with animals so much that I decided to make it a permanent move.
In January 2001, I took possession of a cleared five acre block of land and spent the next 18 months transforming it into an animal sanctuary planting more than 600 native trees, erecting fences and planning dedicated animal precincts. In July 2002, on completion of a modest two bedroom cottage, together with a dog, three ducks and four chickens I moved into A Poultry Place, as I decided to call my sanctuary.
A Poultry Place is a no kill sanctuary which offers a safe, permanent home to rescued and unwanted domesticated poultry (chicken, ducks, turkeys and geese). I chose to focus on poultry because they are the most exploited group of animals in today’s society, with almost 50 billion being slaughtered each year, most having been farmed in cramped windowless sheds and battery cages.
In addition to the poultry there are also resident sheep and cats. All the animals have a carefree existence – they are not exploited for food or clothing and are free to roam during the day. I don’t let any of the animals breed, as there are too many animals needing permanent sanctuary without breeding more. Since January 2001 A Poultry Place has assisted more than 1000 animals by offering temporary or permanent shelter.
In some ways I think I was destined to be here. As a kid I always loved animals and wanted to be a vet. I was never a big meat eater and when I began reading about how “food animals” were treated and it just turned me off. At the start of 1994 I decided to stop eating animals. That was the start of the journey. I soon joined Animal Liberation NSW and quickly learnt I was able to use my professional journalistic skills to help run campaigns to ban the battery cage and stop duck hunting. Eventually I wanted to do more “hands-on” work.
Most of the chicken residents at A Poultry Place have come from battery cage establishments. In a battery cage, a hen lives in less space than an A4 piece of paper. I reckon one of the most beautiful experiences in life is to see how a rescued battery hen adjusts to her new life beyond the bars. She is very inquisitive and constantly exploring her surrounds. She quickly starts displaying her natural instincts to sun-bathe, dust-bathe and build a nest – all of which she has never experienced before. Her initial reaction to straw is amazing – she has never seen it before and yet knows exactly what to do with it – scratch around in it and nest in it. Eventually she plucks up the courage to leap up to a perch and sit there surveying her new surrounds.
It’s the ultimate reward.
There are also many resident roosters, most have come to me after being forced to move from life in suburban backyards because of their crowing. Many were purchased as fluffy little chicks on impulse. Likewise most of the ducks have found their way here after being dumped into the nearest waterway by uncaring owners who no longer want them in their backyards because they have ceased being the cute little fluffy ducklings they were when they brought them.
There’s nothing like a normal day. The only certainty is waking up sometime between 5-5.30am and making coffee. There’s no end of jobs to be done – houses to be cleaned out of soiled straw and bird poo, cleaning water troughs, worming, delousing, trimming hooves and duck claws and cutting rooster spurs, collecting eggs, cleaning out nests.
Of course running an animal sanctuary you have to be prepared to make sacrifices. I don’t have the same kind of social life I had previously, nor the disposable income.
Occasionally I do have to turn away an animal. No sanctuary can take all the animals that need homes. Saying no does really plays on my mind. I hate doing it but it wouldn’t do the other animals any good if I was overrun and couldn’t care for all my charges. In such circumstances I try to find the animal concerned an alternative home.
The other hard thing is having to deal with death. When you have such a large number of animals, some of whom have been shockingly treated you learn to accept death. Despite your best efforts sometimes animals are just too ill to respond to treatment.
Of course I do sometimes get exhausted and frustrated, especially in periods such as ongoing drought but I don’t resent having made the decision to set up A Poultry Place.