For most families moving house takes planning and consideration, but when the ‘kids’ number in the hundreds and come in all shapes and sizes it becomes a strategic exercise of almost-military precision.
Pam Ahern, founder and director of Edgar's Mission Farm Sanctuary, is moving her family of assorted rescued animals to new premises in Lancefield.
Edgar’s Mission started with the rescue of one piglet named Edgar in 2003, when Pam knew she had to create a sanctuary for rejected farm animals. After a decade and hundreds of rescued animals later the sanctuary had outgrown its Kilmore acreage and Pam was in search of a new place.
Following a two-year search she found the ideal home with its expansive grounds and shedding amid the rolling hills of Macedon Ranges. Just a few weeks into the move, it’s so far so good, says Pam.
“The move is enormous. It’s a lot of work as you cannot simply pick up and move as you would with a dog or a cat. There’s quite a few trips involved in moving and settling the animals. We wanted a property in Victoria that was beautiful and accessible to the public," says Pam, adding she is looking forward to being a part of the Central Victorian community.
Pam's "family" includes an array of more than 300 friendly creatures – some discarded from farms, some relieved from a life in a battery breeding shed, some burned in bushfires and some which literally fell off the back of a truck. The homeless, abused, injured and abandoned all have a home at Edgar’s Mission, a place that could easily be called a modern Noah's Ark. And, as they settle into their new home of 153 acres, you can see the mutual affection between them and their "carer".
A quick whistle, a clap of the hands or a call of “come on kids” they come running, all eager for a pat, a chat and a rub from Pam.
Each has a name and Pam knows their personalities well.
“That’s Polly the pig. She is one of our eldest and loves the Wheet Bix,” Pam says. Then there’s the ‘kids’ or cheeky group of baby goats who “like a chat” and to follow you around the farm. The Flintstones (that’s Barney, Wilma, Betty and Fred sheep to you), Roger Ramjet, Penguin, Bruiser (“he is by name and nature,” Pam says), Mister Have-A-Chat, Mick Jagger the goat and Charity, who happily trots around on prosthetic legs and Timmy Sheep who is happy to receive any pats and cuddles on offer, to name a few. Helping keep the sanctuary running smoothly is Ruby, “the manager”.
“Ruby was supposed to be a working sheep dog, but after the farmer paid a lot for her she just didn’t perform,” Pam says. “She was going to be shot but the person couldn’t do it and thankfully she came to live with us. She is very loving,” she says as Ruby rests against her legs waiting for a pat.
Our mission is simple, our mission is kindnessPam Ahern
The not-for-profit organisation is partly self-funded by Pam but primarily relies on public donations. A handful of volunteers help manage the property and look after its residents that include horses, chickens, cows, guinea pigs, turkeys, horses, ponies, goats, sheep, pigs and whatever other creature needs rescuing and a home. Through the power of social media, Edgar’s Mission has achieved a global following, with Pam receiving a donation from an 11-year-old girl in California. The girl was moved to donate after she watched a video of a goat named Frostie, who couldn’t move his hind legs because of a debilitating illness. Some rehabilitation and a loan of Leon Trotsky’s wheelchair enabled Frostie to become active. However, joy was shortlived and Frostie passed away in June.
“Frostie our goat touched the hearts and minds of so many people. When that happens it makes it so real,” Pam says.
“Our mission is simple, our mission is kindness,” she says. “There is a lot of cruelty in the world and it is not needed. If we can all do our little bit to make the world a kinder place by offering refuge to animals who are hurt or harmed then we are on our way to achieving that.”
Edgar’s Mission will be reopen to the public in October: “Hopefully, for World Animal Day,” says Pam, for which she is Australia’s ambassador. Meanwhile, she and her team will continue their outreach program of traveling to schools and hospices with their 'ambassador' animals to teach people about being kind to animals and to share a “bit of happiness”.
To donate or keep up to date with Edgar’s Mission go to edgarsmission.org.au.