One of the things we are reminded of everyday in our Spring Farm CARES Sanctuary is how precious all of life is and how each and every life has meaning and purpose. To live among all of the animals in our sanctuary as well as to walk among the plants, trees, and wildlife in our nature sanctuary is a daily privilege. We are reminded to look at each and every life form as an individual but also to step back and see all of it as a larger community. And sometimes the need of the individual comes at odds with the needs of the community as a whole. These are often hard to reconcile and understand. Nature has a way of coming into balance – even when mankind interferes with the natural state of things.
One such example of this is with the many pigeons who have taken up residence here in our horse barn. We have spent years and literally many hundreds of dollars trying to prevent pigeons from inhabiting our barn. The environment is by its very nature inviting to them. Because we have ducks, chickens, and a goose, there is a source of food down for them to feed throughout the day. The wild birds also love to fly in and help themselves. Back before we installed the new ceiling in the barn, they had many rafters to perch on and build their nests. It was a totally safe and protected environment – so what was not to like about that?
Believe us when we say we have tried everything to discourage them. We bought and installed special curtains to put over the large doorways so that air and light could get through but the birds could not get in. These proved to not work as our staff still had to get in and out with vehicles as did our free roaming ducks, chickens, goose, and barn cats. Thus, the curtains were put in such that a gap was left at the bottom. It of course didn’t take the pigeons long to figure out they could walk in under the curtain.
We’ve spent large sums of money blocking access to nesting and perching places. We’ve used decoys and laser lights and all sorts of fancy ideas. But nothing worked. The pigeons we have here now were all born here. There is no way they are going to leave. They know no other way of life. Yet, they are a nuisance to our horses, and a potential danger with their droppings etc. In an effort to live with them symbiotically, we have tried to designate areas that are more user friendly to them. We take down some of their nests and swap their eggs with fake pigeon eggs. Having them in the barn makes a lot of work. And it is easy to curse their existence on the farm. Yet we strive for that balance of respecting all of life and also looking out for the community as a whole.
By the same token, we have Pat, a pigeon who lives in the small animal facility. Pat came to us from an animal cruelty case. No one knows why Pat was living in the house in a cage, but there he was. While we were there picking up seven mini-donkeys and other shelters and rescues were taking the dogs and pigs, no one was able to offer a place to the pigeon.
It is sort of ironic in a way. But we knew we had to say yes because there was no other option for him. We didn’t know if he was injured or ill but apparently, he had been living in the house for some time. He was not a pigeon who could be released. We named him Pat and he now has a room of his own where he can fly around from perch to perch. He is pampered by his caretakers and he is loved for who he is. Pat reminds us that, although we need to try to find a balance within the needs of the community, every individual is as special as the next. Each life is precious and to that individual has great meaning. It’s all about the balance.
In the meantime, we continue to strive for that balance and peace in the barn – respecting each and every life, and trying to blend the needs of one species with the needs of the other to achieve harmony.