On Friday 26th September 2014, we had a great group of 17 office workers from Cornwall Council organised by Volunteer Cornwall spend the day with us at the shelter. They worked together to paint wooden doors, hutches and sheds (even our ecoloo), finish pointing the walls of the pig stable and strim and clear the electric perimeter fence.
Maria gave the volunteers a little talk and then I showed them around the shelter, introducing them to the animals and explaining the jobs that we needed their help with. Marshall the goat was thrilled to be amongst so many people and demanded their attention and scratches!
Thanks to Cormac, the volunteers had a lovely tool box/trailer dropped off full of different tools to use (these are for volunteers working on various projects to use – a great scheme). After choosing their tools and preparing for the jobs they set to work. I worked with my normal volunteers around them, trying not to disturb their concentration haha
The naughty goat trio, Toffee, Fudge and Oliver had literally a field day. They spent most of the day in the top field with two of the volunteers munching their way through the branches that were being cleared from the perimeter fence. Lucy goose seemed to be on her best behaviour leaving the volunteers in her enclosure alone to paint her house and the other two sheds. There were a few chickens, the very friendly ones, that hung around the painters and pointers and they got a bit splattered with the water based paint, as they just would not stay out of the way.
Just before lunch, Maria popped back down for a little while and took some of the volunteers (the brave ones haha) for a walk with the goats up the village. My volunteer Jess took some photos for me. The goats were well behaved and they enjoyed themselves, both goats and volunteers.
At lunch time they had an order of Marys pasties which smelled gorgeous. One of the volunteers, Alina, then treated us to one of her beautiful home made cupcakes each. They were so good!
After lunch they finished the jobs very quickly and I got them all together for a photo.
Thank you very much to them all for their hard work. They have helped us do jobs we don’t get the time to do and it has helped towards preparing for the winter.
Thank you to Geraldine Baker, Phil Coad, Fiona Cooper, Abby Edwards, Jon Foxwell, Kate Harper, Peter Hockin, Lisa Hughes, Anthony Humphreys, Jess Keymer, Neil Kirkland, Dean Mitchell, Alina Smith, Angela Stevens, Karen Symonds, Leah Thomas, Mike Weston and Andy Winn.
One day, while working at the shelter, the effort trying to get the pigs (Blossom and Tammy the Kune Kunes) up to the far field sparked a good idea from volunteer Llinora. She suggested it may be easier, and much better for the pigs, if a little part of the wall opposite their stable was taken away to let them wander from the yard into the sheep field as they please during the day.
There would need to be a fence to separate the sheep and goats from them, as they would fight, and also to prevent the pigs from churning up where the sheep and goats graze. The pigs would have their very own field to do as they please, in a position where they can see the volunteers and what is going on (they love people) and with good shade from the trees. Perfect!
I put Llinoras idea to Maria and she thought it was brilliant too. We just needed the wood and the workforce!
A Visit From Martin Webb
Soon after, Martin Webb from Volunteer Cornwall visited the shelter to look around and assess whether it was suitable for the volunteers he was organising to come and help out. He was organising a list of places for staff at the Cornwall Council offices in Truro to choose where they would like to offer their time and help.
After his visit, a group from the Property Services Department in the Truro office chose to help us on their day of volunteering. From there, Maria and Martin discussed the plan for the pigs and they decided to erect the fence and two fences in the bottom field, to replace ineffective electric fencing to keep Fudge and Toffee (naughty goats) in, on the day planned for the Council staff.
Maria obtained wood for the fences and a small gate to allow access into what was to be the new pig field and the plan was set.
Martin and his team of volunteers from Cornwall Council Truro arrived at the shelter bright and early and got straight to work. They split into two teams, one team working on the two fences in the bottom field with naughty goats, Toffee and Fudge, and the other team working on the fence and gate in the top field for the new pig field with help from another naughty goat Marshall! After laying some of the wood down to see the postion it would be in, Marshall decided he’d like to walk across each plank!
The teams worked almost non stop and I’m sure there was some sort of little competition going on between them!
Martin wrote: “A team of seven staff from Cornwall Council’s Property Services Department spent a day volunteering at Maria’s Animal Shelter in Probus on Thursday 27th September 2012. Dave Saunders, Phillipa Delbridge-Smith, Lisa Barber, Helen Pascoe, Berni Bush, Michaela Trethewey and Ben Plummer spent the day at the Shelter helping Maria to erect three fences to secure the goats and help reduce the risk of them escaping onto the nearby road and also to create a new secure space for the two kune kune pigs. There was a lot of work to be completed in the day, the fences were being started from scratch and the holes for the fence posts had to be dug and then the posts cemented into position. In addition a gate needed to be fitted to one of the sections of fencing. In some areas the ground was hard to dig out due to the layers of slate and the work was not finished until just before 5pm that afternoon.”
All Done And Dusted
The fences were finished just before 5pm and the exhausted team were off. They did a fantastic job. The fences are beautiful and have made a big improvement to the shelter. Martin wrote: “The group of volunteers really enjoyed the day and got great satisfaction from both completing the task and knowing that they had helped Maria to improve the conditions for the animals at the shelter.”
Maria was delighted with the day’s progress and stated that she would not have been able to have got this work completed without the support of this team of volunteers.
Maria said “To be honest, I thought it was going to be too large a project for 8 people (7 volunteers and Martin Webb) in one day, but it was amazing how everyone worked together to pull it off. The weather was beautiful as well so that helped us keep in good spirits. I would not have been able to get the work done without the support of this team and I can’t thank everyone enough for all their hard work they put into it”
A huge Thank You to Martin and the team. We are so grateful for the hard work you did and you are welcome to come again any time. Perhaps a smaller project for you next time?! ha ha
If you would like to find out more about Cornwall Council’s employee volunteering scheme, please contact Martin Webb at Volunteer Cornwall on 01872 266991 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Keeley x with contributions from Martin Webb
Photos by Martin Webb