Meet Our Feathered Friends

They don't show off by galloping in a thundering across the pasture. Nor do they perform a cacophonous chorus of hee-haws or tag along behind us nudging for a scratch. The average human is impervious to their quirky charm, practically invisible to people who stop by our fence so their children can be entertained by our massive swine. Many think nothing of eating them. Even those who might proudly proclaim that they "have given up meat." After all, it's just a chicken or just a duck or just a goose, unless, that is, you call it fois gras. (Then it's a force-fed goose's liver.) Even their pedestrian category name "poultry" sounds generic and more static mineral than living, breathing animal.

We have a whole different opinion of these delightful two-legged creatures. And so we save them as much as our resources (funding, time and space) allow. We celebrate our feathered friends at Tomten Farm and Sanctuary. They provide much entertainment to us and seem appreciative of us. They are as precious as our horses, cows, donkeys, cats, pigs, dogs, goats, sheep and rabbits. They are loved. They don't have to produce eggs or provide Sunday dinner. They just have to be.


The Goose Girls   Rescued!
(livestock auction and private rescues)

Honk if you love Toulouse geese!
HONK, HONK, HONK!

Abnerita was our first Toulouse goose. We adopted her from a farmer who was overrun with geese, most of which were just dropped at his gate without his permission. He was grateful when we answered his ad even though we offered to take only one off his hands. (At the time we had one lonely owner-surrendered goose at the farm, Althea, and wanted a companion for her).  Abner won the lottery and HE started laying eggs. From that day on, SHE was Abnerita.

We rescued Abnerita's companions Agatha, Armaunde and Amandine the Beauty Queen, at a livestock auction. After successful quarantine, they joyfully joined Abnerita.

While some people keep geese as watchdogs on their farms, ours would fail miserably at that job. Our four Toulouse geese don't have a mean bone in their bodies. Docile, hardy, quiet, good free-range foragers, they quietly communicate with each other as they search for the most tender grass and weeds that are to their liking. Most days they can be seen shadowing the goats, swimming in their pools or resting in the sun.

Rescued from auction, now safe on the farm.

Unique friendships like these
are not unusual at Tomten.

"We swim because we are too sexy
for a sport that requires clothes"
~ Tomten Goose Girls

Buffet's arrived… Thanks, Joanne and Dick!

 


The Chickabiddies   Rescued!
(livestock auction and private rescues)

Hen Party

Our hens all come from livestock auctions and are integrated into our flock after a 30-day stay in quarantine.

An artist's palette of breeds, coloration and pattern, they are sent to auction because they are "spent hens," those too old to produce enough eggs to earn their keep. And so it is either auction or "freezer camp" for them. The two destinations are pretty much synonymous which is sad because chickens have their own unique personalities, provide a great deal of amusement and the hens make wonderful pets.

Shortly after our new coop and run were completed, the Animal Rescue League of Boston called asking if we would provide sanctuary for a rooster. Roosters are notoriously hard to place for many reasons: they crow whenever they feel like it (not just in the morning), many towns who do allow backyard chickens do NOT allow roosters and, honestly, some roosters can be downright mean. But this was not just ANY rooster that Hannah was trying to place. And when we heard his amazing story, we just couldn't say no.

A true survivor, this talented and evasive rooster (shown below) ran the streets of Quincy, MA (a city of about 94,000 about 10 miles outside Boston) for over a year! Now that's something to crow about! We unanimously agreed that this resilient guy deserved a life of peace, protection and possibility.

Named Quinn C. Roo Crack O' Dawn, a name derived from a combination of suggestions from our Facebook supporters, Quinn is a handsome rooster and he knows it. He is quite cocky and has his pick of the ladies. When he arrived, our younger rooster Roo Roo Kachoo and his dear mate Henny Penny (both whom prefer a more traditional marriage) flew the coop to go live with the donkeys and start their own family.

There is no shortage of spent chickens and surplus roosters at livestock auctions.

Quinn C. Roo Crack O' Dawn. The stories he could tell about free-range city living!

The handwriting was on the wall for Roo Roo
& Henny Penny who flew the coop.

Roo Roo Kachoo, Henny Penny and family
prefer the donkeys' company to
The Quinn C. Roo Crack O'Dawn brood.


The Ducks   Rescued!
(livestock auction rescues)

You never know what you will find at any livestock auction. The day we went to save ducks and geese, most of the ducks were warty-faced Muscovies, a breed that was new to us but we quickly grew to love—warts* and all.

It's easy to see why they are now a farm favorite. Tails wagging, they greet us with unadulterated joy, wiggling their butts like perennially happy Pembroke Welsh Corgis. So that makes us feel pretty good about saving their lives. Though Muscovies are tropical birds native to Mexico, Central and South America, they adapt well to cold climates like we have here in NH.

Muscovy ducks are incredibly smart and full of personality. And it's not just their appearance that sets them apart from other ducks. They are the only domestic ducks that are not derived from Mallards. AND they don't quack! Males (drakes) have a low breathy call and females communicate with a quiet trilling "coo." Just for fun, they sometimes fly in a circle over our pastures touching down on one of our shed roofs or a duck house.

If all that weren't enough to make you want to meet our Muscovy flock, how about this? They earn their keep by providing natural fly control and have been known to reduce the bug population in cow farms by up to 80%. (Marilyn MOOnroe, Gideon and Greta GarMOO like that!). In fact, one Canadian study found that a single Muscovy caught more than 30 times as many flies as commercial fly paper or traps. (And they don't get stuck in your hair like those sticky fly traps do!) And though their 98% fat free meat is similar to high quality sirloin, we prefer to keep them off our plate and "hire" them for pest control instead.

*Those "warts" are called caruncles, a red (sometimes partially black), warty "mask" around the face.

Last one in is a rotten [duck] egg!

 

Muscovies like the company
of every Tomten animal.

Perched for peace, protection
and possibility.

Female muscovies are great moms
and will even sit on and hatch
chicken eggs, given the chance.

 


A Special AmazonSmile Wish List
Just for These Rescued Birds

As our rescued gamefowl begin to settle in here at Tomten Farm and Sanctuary, we would like to ask if you too, could lend a helping hand.  They are not yet ready to roam the farm and we are offering them as much love as possible while they are housed in temporary quarters and then moved across the farm to their forever home. Please consider purchasing an item from their AmazonSmile Wish List and sending it their way. I suspect they have probably never received such kindness. Just look at our Roo, shaved, mutilated and forever scarred. He deserves love, too!

11 AmazonSmile Wish List Ideas
for our
11 Gamefowl Rescues

Wish List Items as low as $7.61. Find them all here.

Introducing Tomten's
Animal Sponsorship Program

Cindy B., Dedicated Tomten Volunteer

Sponsor the Chickens,
Geese & Ducks
AND
Become an Honorary Tomten

When you sponsor our Feathered Friends Flock of chickens, geese and ducks, you become an Honorary Tomten , helping us provide peace, protection and possibility while getting to know "your" poultry—even if you live thousands of miles away.

Your one-year Feathered Friends Sponsorship gives Honorary Tomtens an opportunity to make a direct impact on the lives of their favorite farm residents. You'll receive lots of updates beyond our traditional public posts. And while you may not be able to be here personally, we will make sure you feel as though you are with regular photos (including a few surprise videos) sent to your phone or email all year long!

Here's How Sponsorship Works:
Sponsors make a one-time tax-deductible donation of 50% of our poultry's total estimated yearly care expenses. Tomten Farm and Sanctuary applies those funds to the daily care of all of our Feathered Friends, should you choose to help. Upon receipt of your donation, TF&S removes the chickens, geese and ducks from our "animals available for sponsorship" list. Then comes the exciting part: our resident Tomten waves his magic wand and makes you an Honorary Tomten!! Next, we announce the exciting news to TF&S supporters via social media including Facebook, Instagram and this website. (To ensure your privacy, we will share your first name, last initial only). We also encourage you to share the story behind your sponsorship choice. And, if you like, you can also send a photo of yourself to post on this page with our flock. We guarantee that they will all cluck, crow, honk and quack in excitement that you have chosen THEM to support.

Sound Good?
Your one-time tax-deductible donation of $1175 will sponsor the flock and receive Honorary Tomten status for one year. That amount is your half of the expenses incurred to support every chicken, duck and goose here at the farm. The other half is paid by a second Honorary Tomten (Sponsor) or Tomten Farm and Sanctuary, if no one else cares to step up for that animal.

However you look at it—$97.92 per month, $14.42 per week or $3.18 per day—sponsorship is a fun and oh-so-gratifying way to provide peace, protection and possibility to farm creatures in need, making a real difference in their day-to-day lives all year long.

Want to Start Today?
Simply go to the Donate button at the bottom of this column and indicate you want to donate $1175.  Be sure to tell us you want to sponsor the Tomten Feathered Friends* and our Tomten will wave his magic wand making you an Honorary Tomten this very day!

More Ways to Help
You can also donate as little as $10 per month toward supporting any animal (not just poultry) that you choose OR donate to our General Fund. We offer all kinds of other tax-deductible donation options.
Click here for details.

*Sorry, we know everyone has their favorites; but since each sponsorship is for 50% of care, only two Honorary Tomtens per our Feathered Friends Flock per year are available and are selected in the order they were received.

 



This Guy's Fighting Days are Over

Tomten Farm and Sanctuary is proud to be one of the sanctuaries that volunteered to take in a few of the MSPCA-held birds that were rescued by police from an illegal cockfighting ring. Over 400 birds were rescued from a Northampton, MA property in a bust that officials say may be the largest in MSPCA history. Of those originally rescued, the MSPCA was able to save more than 200 birds from euthanasia, placing them in sanctuaries or experienced private homes. We were happy to take the rooster above and ten of the gamefowl hens (photos below).

What is Cockfighting? It's a vicious sport practiced for its gambling and "entertainment" value. Two birds are placed beak to beak in a small ring (a "cockpit"), and encouraged to fight to the death. It is illegal in all 50 states. According to Mike Keiley, director of adoption centers and programs at the MSPCA-Nevins Farm, cockfighting is an extremely cruel blood sport where prior to entering the ring, most of the birds (roosters purposefully bred this purpose) have been fitted with sharp metal spurs designed to slash and kill their opponents.

Tomten's first-ever gamefowl residents include the handsome rooster above. Just looking at this handsome boy now, with his shaved legs and cut off comb, one can only imagine what he has been through. The rescued gamefowl hens are shown below. They and Mr. Rooster are housed separately from our farm chickabiddies and seem to be enjoying the peace, protection and possibility of their new lives Tomten Farm and Sanctuary.

Our hearts go out to the all who faced the heavy burden of euthanizing the 193 roosters that were not eligible for placement. There is such sadness in the loss of those who, through no fault of their own, cannot be placed. We are, however, glad each one had an opportunity to experience days without fighting for their lives, to enjoy blueberries and treats from compassionate individuals and to experience moments of kindness before their passing. Rescue is a hard, heartbreaking business and we send peace and light to all at the MSPCA who said goodbye to their hard-won saves.

Thank you Rob, Ellie and all at the MSPCA who worked diligently to make a difference for so many birds in immediate need. Click here to read more about this rescue.


Lucky Clucks Now at
Tomten Farm and Sanctuary

At MSPCA-Nevins Farm where a large barn
held the rescued birds in hundreds
of cages during evaluation.

NH bound. Each bird received new "luggage"
for its trip to Tomten Farm and Sanctuary.

Checking in and checking out their new home.

First order of business for these wary girls,
station a lookout on the roof.

Then, a relaxing, long over-due dust bath.

Next, a lunch buffet of healthy greens.

This exotic looking beauty is ready for her closeup.

Finally, perched for a life full of peace,
protection and possibility.


Did You Know...

Muscovies are considered to be more tree-birds than water birds so their swimming needs are minimal. They are not as water repellent as other ducks because their oil glands are not as well developed. They are perfectly happy to take a dip in a kiddie pool. 


Muscovy Minutiae
Learn more about these fascinating ducks.
Visit/Like/Follow/Share Tomten on Facebook.

 

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Tomten Farm and Sanctuary
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