Michelle's First Day at PPER
Dedication – that’s the word that comes to mind when I think of Pasture Pals Equine Rescue, affectionately known as PPER. There are currently 32 horses, 5 donkeys, a hinny, a mule, 3 bovines, 3 goats, a potbelly pig, and 4 dogs, in their care at 3 different locations. 18 of them are at the West Olive location alone!
Yesterday was my first official training day. Since I am over an hour away and work full-time, I can only physically volunteer on Saturdays. I had been there a couple of weeks already, but, due to circumstances – such as an emergency rescue of 5 mini-ponies and a fund-raiser – this was my first time learning the feeding and care routine used by PPER.
Here’s how the routine goes. Each animal has their own feed bowl and feed requirements. They need to be fed in specific order and areas to minimize competition for their food from the other animals. Once they are all fed, hay nets must be filled for each separate area – this takes longer than you would imagine – and hung where the horses can get to them but they cannot be touching the ground or the horses might get their hooves caught. Next the mucking begins, all holding areas and stalls must be cleaned of manure. With 50 animals, you can imagine the time it takes to clean up! Water levels are assessed and refreshed. Lastly the food needs to be mixed so it’s ready for the next feeding time. Mixing feed involves lifting 50 pound feed bags and 50 Chaffhaye bags and mixing the two together. Lastly, the food dishes are gathered and stored so that the animals don’t play frisbee with them.
Whew! That is a lot to do! What I described is done twice a day. Every day. At three locations.
Yesterday, being my first day, Alex had to take the time to show me how much to feed each animal, how to fill and hang the hay nets and the mucking out. Let’s just say it rained. It rained A LOT and thundered and flashed lightning. But, as Alex said, horses still have to eat, even if it’s storming. Even if it’s a holiday. Even when your rubber boots are squishing and you just couldn’t get any wetter if you tried.
So that’s just one reason the word dedication comes to mind. There are other reasons too, that I will discuss in my next blog.
And just in case you interpreted all of this as whining – let me reassure you, I loved every single minute of it!