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The Grateful Chicken

This springtime photo is a snapshot of how we here at Jolly Folly Farm try to all work together. It's a few of our Rhode Island Reds as teens and the guard geese as babies.

The chickens taught these baby geese how to find yummy clover and now, these little geese weigh well over 20 pounds each. They sound the alarm if anything comes close to their flockmates. Half of them are closer to 30 pounds and would also probably rip anything to bits if given the opportunity. They're a rowdy bunch and so far very little dares come close to the Jolly Folly Chickens, thanks to the guard geese efforts. Chickens helping geese, then geese helping chickens. A mutually beneficial arrangement.

Like I said, one of our favorite things at the farm is finding ways to work together -- fitting people or resources or animals together in a way in which all benefit. We got to enjoy "human to human to animal" mutual benefits this past Wednesday when we decided 100 percent of egg sales would go to the Louisa Humane Society (LHS) to help with an influx from a recent seizure. Animals needed help but needed to remain on site. We don't live in Louisa County, but we could give help to the folks there who were doing the work. Mutually beneficial. The hens donated their efforts and we donated all the proceeds. And, terrific customers donated extra to help the animals in need. Mutually beneficial. You can read about it here.

I promised an update, and it's good news. Or, if you measure the further mutual benefits, GREAT news.

On the good news front:

I had 16 dozen eggs to sell and, as usual, sold out (again, great customers!). On a normal Wednesday that would mean I would take home $80. But this Wednesday, we did a "pay what you will" for Louisa County animals so we just told customers to put whatever they wanted to in the bucket as payment for the eggs. Thursday we delivered the bucket to Michelle at LHS. There was $320 from the egg sales. That means kind customers gave an EXTRA $240 to help with the care of the neglected animals! We were so impressed by folks' desire to work together to help our neighboring county, that the Jolly Folly Farmers went into the holiday coffers and added $260 to it. That means LHS has $580 they didn't have before.

On the great news front:

The Jolly Folly Farmers are numbers people and, while we were super excited to be able to help LHS in some small way, the numbers reality is that with a huge seizure, we are cognizant that our JoFoFa efforts translate to just over $1 per animal LHS had to take in recently. That doesn't seem like a lot. However, every little bit counts, and hopefully a lot of little bits will come together. There is a bigger gain, however, outside the numbers, and it is immeasurable. It is the ripples that resonate when people work together. Those ripples are the great news!

We're not vets or millionaires, so don't have a lot to offer, but egg sales, a few hours of an afternoon, the ability to chat to people about animal welfare issues, a portion of our savings, a willingness to do something when it crosses our path, no matter how small -- these are things we CAN do. They don't seem like much because they aren't.

However, when we offered something small, our neighbors offered back a friendly smile, a willingness to think about animal welfare, a generous donation, and a sense of commonality with each other in addition to caring for a neighboring county. From Earlysville to Louisa County, the ripples of people doing something together continues when the well-wishes of neighbors in Albemarle County can travel to the people who will now do the hard work of translating those well-wishes into real care for the animals.

A pessimist would still look at $580 and think: "that's barely $1 per animal seized." But pessimists are miserable folks and their grip on reality is skewed. People sometimes call me an optimist or an altruist -- but I'm not. I'M A REALIST. I know the numbers and I know what they mean. One must always understand the numbers. A seizure like this will burn through the monetary donation quicker than you can say "feed store." But I also know the ripple-effect of neighbors helping neighbors and I know what that means -- IT MEANS MORE. All day long, it means more.

Money will come and and money will go. Animal seizures in the news today will be forgotten tomorrow. But the value of community (however large or small), the value of joining together (whether long-term in managing an animal shelter or short-term in just stopping for eggs at a roadside parking lot), the value of knowing a handful of folks who take a small helping opportunity when it's there -- these things don't have an expiration date and are priceless!

Thanks to everyone who donated and most of all, thanks to the folks in Louisa County who work hard to provide sheltered animals with humane care.

We hope you all have a very Jolly day!!

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