“Emma, you have to come and see this!”
My eleven-year-old daughter walked over to stand beside me at the door to the hen/turkey/pig house. We watched with pride as the pigs snuffled happily in the layer of clean shavings that covered the floor. Earlier, armed with dust masks and shovels, we had worked alongside other volunteers to clean out the old, dirty straw and shavings. It was smelly, sweaty, hard work but the results were very satisfying… for us and the pigs.
That is my favourite moment from our afternoon spent volunteering at Teja’s Animal Refuge, but there are many others that make me smile: the drive through the rural countryside on a beautiful, sunny day, with the fall foliage glowing around us; the tabby cat that tried to stow away in our van, to the delight of my kids; my eight-year-old son cheerfully helping the men working on the farmhouse roof by lugging armfuls of shingle scraps to the garbage pile; two ducks sharing a piece of watermelon; my husband chatting to another volunteer about rugby and beer as they worked; Fred and Walter, the two turkeys who commented, loudly, on everything going on around them; and, at the end of the afternoon, two dirty, happy kids fast asleep in the back seat on the drive home.
Teja’s Animal Refuge is located in Glen Robertson, just across the Ontario border. It’s a little more than an hour’s drive from the west end of Montreal, as long as you don’t get stuck in traffic caused by construction or get lost because you didn’t read the directions properly, as we did.
Volunteer Days are scheduled about once per month, though right now the organizers are trying to have them every two weeks. If you join the Teja’s Animal Refuge Facebook group, you will be notified of each upcoming Volunteer Day. My family will definitely be going back.