Animal rescue farm an affair of the heart
The Emmett family's lifelong love of all creatures great and small has led to them setting up a rescue and rehoming centre for unwanted farm animals on their Western Waikato farmlet.
Called Little Acres, the four-acre lifestyle block at Te Akau rehomes everything from traditional pets to poultry, water fowl, guinea pigs, goats, lambs, cattle and rabbits.
Barry and Jacqui Emmett and daughter Charlie volunteered for the RSPCA in England before moving to New Zealand in 2011.
Before long, farmers were coming to their gate with sick or unwanted animals.
"There are a lot of farmers out there, who are not cruel to their animals. I know they are stock and we don't interfere with farming, but they don't want to put down that bobby calf. They come to us," Jacqui said.
In return for taking the animals, local farmers support their operation by donating feed or materials.
"Farmers have been very supportive," Jacqui said. "The network is getting huge. We've got nearly 4500 on our Facebook page and people are calling me all the time."
She described Little Acres as a pitstop to a nice home. Little Acres does not keep the animals, unless they are recovering from illness or injury.
"It's rescue and rehome. They are in and they are out. We try to find homes for them, good homes mostly on lifestyle blocks."
The farmlet is in the middle of a major restructure to provide a better layout for the animals and visitors.
Barry decided to spend all of his pension accumulated after a 32-year career in the Royal Navy, to develop the land.
When asked why he would spend his life savings on this, Jacqui's answer was simple: He loves animals.
"We had a meeting one day where we discussed what to do with this money. It wasn't a huge amount, but it was substantial.
"He said ‘I can't take it with me and I don't want people fighting over it when I'm gone. Lets make a difference now when I'm still living'."
Little Acres is not a commercial farm and Barry works fulltime to generate their income while Jacqui and Charlie tend to the animals during the day.
They do charge a rehoming fee that is scaled according to the type of animals.
The $120,000 revamp includes major earthworks, creating a carpark, a new terraced lake for rescued water fowl, and a large contoured area to make the shelters, stalls and cages easily accessible by the viewing public.
They also have a new septic tank for two new public toilets for visitors and a new water tank for the animals.
One of their busiest times is the goat season.
The goats they save are mostly ferals that were born after farmers trap pregnant does.
The doe then has the kid in a holding pen before being to be sent to a processing plant.
Little Acres now has 18 farmers who keep these kids for them.
Lifestyle block holders often have difficulty finding animals for their land and Little Acres was an obvious place to find a piglet or a goat.
Lifestylers also found it rewarding that their animals had been rescued and its life has been saved, Jacqui said.
Her message to farmers was simple - there was a place in the community that will take in unwanted farm animals the SPCA do not take.
"If they had a choice they would not cull it but they don't have the time or the resources to spend 12 weeks babysitting a lamb," Charlie added.
Jacqui said they are not activists, or want to cause trouble for farmers. Nor do they lecture farmers on how they should care for their animals.
"Our thing is: do not be cruel to animals and, for those who eat meat, if you are not going to eat it, do not kill it and if you are going to eat it, be nice to it. There is no need for it to suffer."
They also try and verify that the place a farm animal is being sent is genuine as they do not give the animals to people wanting meat.
Jacqui said they was no animal they would refuse to take in.
"Except maybe spiders," she said, laughing.