Monday , 11 December 2017

Reader Piece: Volunteer Day at Teja’s!

We’d like to thank Alison Nickel for contributing this reader piece about her recent volunteering experience at Teja’s Refuge!  Alison brought her hubby and their kids to help out as a family! For more on Teja’s and why they need our help, read this. 

“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.

A clean pig pen makes for a happy pig

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.

Fred & Walter, the chatty turkeys!
Did I mention they were dirty? Teja’s is, after all, a farm, inhabited by a bunch of farm animals. If you go to the next Volunteer Day, which I strongly encourage you to do, you should go prepared for the mud, and the poop, and the smells, and you should go prepared to work. Take rubber boots, work gloves, and a dust mask. Take a snack, ideally something you can share with the pigs or goats (they made me say that). They like fruits and vegetables. Take a friend or two, though if you’re on your own please don’t let that stop you from going. The volunteers are very friendly and welcoming. It took my daughter ages to get ready to go home because she had to run around and give goodbye hugs to all her new friends. Take a camera.
Cian meets a friendly goat at Teja's

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.

Alison and Emma modeling dust masks

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