Archive for March, 2014

A few days ago I lost a very good friend. He was a tall, dark and handsome fellow. He had a tendency to be shy but he was always sweet. He walked with a limp like an old time pimp, but he was never mean to anyone. People gravitated towards him because he had such a welcoming presence.

His name was Feten and he was a horse.

He wasn’t just any horse though, he let me pretend that I was the horse whisperer. In fact, it became somewhat of a nickname for me on Sunday mornings at SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary where he lived and I volunteered. (Volunteered being past tense due to vehicle issues.) I’ve always been incredibly fond of horses since I was very young but never did I have a relationship with one like that of Feten. Really, I think he just humored me but that’s okay.

I’ll never forget my first serious conversation with Feten, yes I said conversation. It was morning grain time for all the horses and while all you had to do to get everyone else out of the pasture to come and eat, was yell “Come and eat!” However, Feten just stood there watching the rest of the herd run for the goods. When he didn’t attempt to come I walked out to meet him part way. He just stared at me. I told him, “Come on, it’s time for breakfast!” He just stared. I was at a loss, how did one convince a horse to come eat? I crossed my arms, “I feel stupid whistling at you because you’re not a dog.” He continued staring. If he didn’t get there soon, there wouldn’t be any grain left for him. In a last ditch effort, I patted my thighs and said, “Come on buddy.” He strolled right up to me and then walked the entire way with his head over my right shoulder, keeping pace the whole time. He had no halter or lead rope on, but he just kept walking right next to me until he saw that glorious bucket of goodies. This is forever ingrained into my memory it meant so much to me. Why, I could probably never describe. This is but one story in our two years of friendship.

My heart hangs heavy with his loss but also rejoices in his life. He had such a beautiful soul. He frequently encouraged me to scratch his belly for him. He was an ex-race horse that was injured and then surrendered to the sanctuary where he spent the remainder of his life, naked, free, loved, and catered to daily. I know how much love and attention he received, not just from myself of course but from other volunteers and the owners of the farm as well. He would never again be tossed aside because he couldn’t bring in the money. He knew only love and understanding for all the rest of his days, and I am thankful that he shared his love and life with me.

Feten, the handsome fellow that he was.

Feten, the handsome fellow that he was.

Please take the time to volunteer or donate money and goods to sanctuaries. I know that Feten would greatly appreciate people giving a second chance to someone like himself.

Sashafarm.org

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In honor of World Frog Day, we thought we’d use the day to talk about how some of the frogs in our home-state of Michigan compare to other frogs around the world.

i has a hat

According to the Michigan DNR, the frogs found in Michigan are as follows:

Blanchard’s Cricket Frog

Bullfrog

Gray Tree Frog

Green Frog

Mink Frog

Northern Leopard Frog

Northern Spring Peeper

Pickerel Frog

Western Chorus Frog

Wood Frog

The bullfrog is the largest frog we have in Michigan, but our bullfrogs are dwarfed in comparison to the world’s largest frog, the Goliath Frog.

A big bullfrog, just hanging out, doing frog stuff.

A big bullfrog, just hanging out, doing frog stuff.

The Goliath Frog

The Goliath Frog

Some of Michigan’s smallest frogs are the Northern Spring Peeper and the Western Chorus Frog, but in 2012 a tiny frog called Paedophryne amauensis was discovered to live in New Guinean rainforests. While our tiny Michigan frogs range from about 1 to 1 ½ inches in size, the Paedophryne amauensis is only 7.7 millimeters long on average.

Northern Spring Peeper

Northern Spring Peeper

Paedophryne amauensis sitting on a US dime.

Paedophryne amauensis sitting on a US dime.

Aside from being World Frog Day, today is also the first day of Spring. It shouldn’t be long before our amphibious buddies are out in full force again! Also, totally fighting the urge to make a bad pun about the first day of spring and world frog day. You’re welcome. 😛

Sleepy boys.

Sleepy boys.

So since today is Learn About Butterflies Day, we thought we’d share some interesting butterfly facts that are a little less known. Here are 7 bizarre butterfly facts. We hope you enjoy!

Bizarre Butterfly Facts:

1.)

Did you know butterflies taste with their feet? Though adult butterflies can only sustain themselves on fluids such as nectar, it’s important for them to find plants to lay their eggs that their offspring will be able to eat. They do so, using taste receptors on their feet and spines with chemoreceptors on the back of their legs.

2.)

Speaking of taste, butterflies are famous for indulging in nectar, but they also do something known as puddling to get all the proper nutrients. Puddling is when a butterfly drinks from a mud puddle. Though it sounds no where near as tasty as nectar, mud puddles contain minerals the butterflies need, especially for mating. Even less classy than drinking mud, are the eating habits of a certain butterfly known as the Red Admiral, who prefer animal dung and rotting fruit.

The Red Admiral Butterfly may look pretty, but there is nothing pretty about those eating habits.

The Red Admiral Butterfly may look pretty, but there is nothing pretty about those eating habits.

3.)

Butterflies don’t poop! Since a butterfly’s diet consists of only liquids, and the butterfly’s body uses up nearly all of those liquids, they put out very little waste. Even when a butterfly does produce waste, it still is mostly expelling only water at that point, and does so by releasing a spray of liquid when they’ve had too much to drink. Caterpillars on the other hand, are a completely different story. Unlike their more graceful adult counterparts, caterpillars are constantly eating and defecating.

4.)

Butterflies don’t technically sleep. They do however have a resting period known as quiescence. They do this when it is cloudy or when it is nighttime.

5.)

If a butterfly’s body temperature drops below 85 degrees Fahrenheit, it cannot fly. Since butterflies are cold-blooded, the temperature of their surroundings plays a crucial part in their body temperatures. On a chilly day, a butterfly can try to warm up enough to be able to fly by basking in the sun or shivering its wings until the muscles needed for flight are warm enough.

6.)

Butterflies don’t have lungs. They actually breathe through tiny openings on their body known as spiracles.

7.)

In the Amazon, butterflies will literally drink the tears of turtles. It sounds bizarre, but the sodium found in the turtles’ tears is vital for the butterflies, and otherwise hard for the butterflies to come by.

Mmm Mmm! Don't mind us, we're just sustaining ourselves off your sorrow. No biggie.

Mmm Mmm! Don’t mind us, we’re just sustaining ourselves off your sorrow. No biggie.

So it just so happens that March 1st is a day to celebrate our hoofed friends of both the swine and equine variety.

National Pig Day:

Evelyn being playful with a stick. :)

Evelyn being playful with a stick. 🙂

If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to get to spend some time around pigs, you’ll know just how intelligent, funny, and awesome they tend to be. We’ve both had the pleasure of getting to know some of the pigs through volunteering at SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary, and let us tell you, they’re some real characters! A lot of people are surprised at just how smart and affectionate pigs can be, but they really are a joy to be around.

Louie the potbelly when he was just a little baby!

Louie the potbelly when he was just a little baby!

Louie all grown up and still adorable.

Louie all grown up and still adorable.

National Horse Protection Day:

Rain being super cute and fuzzy.

Rain being super cute and fuzzy.

Nobody likes to think about a horse being abused or neglected, or even sent to slaughter, but unfortunately, horses often fall victim to those very things. National Horse Protection Day exists to bring such injustices to the public’s attention and educate people on how they can help. Horses may not be able to speak out against those that would do them harm, but we can and we should. We know how it goes, wanting to help but knowing that adopting a rescued horse just isn’t a realistic option at this time. But there are also plenty of other ways you can help. Some of things you can do include:

  • Volunteering your time at an animal sanctuary or horse rescue. (Trust us, it’s just as rewarding for you as it is for the animals you’ll be helping!)

  • Helping spread the word, simply by helping raise awareness, or sharing news of horses in need of adoption in your area.

  • Donating to a horse rescue (aside from money, rescues are always in need of food and supplies. You can often find wish lists of the items they need right on their websites.)

Some horse rescues in Michigan include:

Starry Skies Equine Rescue and Sanctuary (Ann Arbor, MI):

http://www.starryskiesequinerescueandsanctuary.com/

 

Northern Michigan Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation (Gaylord, MI):

http://www.nmhrr.org/

 

Beyond the Roses Equine Rescue & Retirement (Emmett, MI):

http://www.beyondtherosesequine.org/

 

SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary (Manchester, MI):

**This one is a sanctuary for all kinds of farm animals, with several horse and pig residents!

https://www.facebook.com/sashafarm

Feten, one of the lucky horses who get to live out the rest of their days at SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary.

Feten, one of the lucky horses who get to live out the rest of their days at SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary.

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