Today was the first official day of volunteering I have done in...FOREVER. Really, not since the tenth grade have I bothered to step forward and do my civic duty. And not until today has it been so easy to be needed somewhere--even if you're not getting paid or forced to live with someone.
Today me and Sarah went to Talking Talons bat, bird, and reptile refuge in Tijeras. It is located off of scenic Route 66 (NM SR 333) just East of the Tijeras village and west of Moriarity on the South Side. It's a quaint little place where they pretty much do the best they can given what they have. Their main hub is a house converted into an office / food prep / reptile salvation / bat refuge / bird training center where all of the employees and volunteers are huddled through at the beginning of their shifts. In the kitchen area, the fruit for the bats is made up, the halved mice are divied up for the birds, and insects are harvested for the insectivorous reptiles and bats in the back room. On the east side of the building there is an office where there are books crammed into half as many shelves as would otherwise be necessary. The northside is where they keep this falcon / eagle / soul eating bird tied to a mount so as to train it to perch for show. The north side has a room where they keep these tiny cute little bats in a cage.
The snakes are only fed twice a month whereas the other reptiles and the bats are fed once a day. The bats are literally half a palm in height and less than that in width. They're cute! They were a little disoriented when they were pulled out for me and Sarah on Wednesday when we got a tour but I think they forgave us, lol. Laurie really knows a great deal about the animals though some of the other employees seem to be lacking in such completion. No matter, everyone seems really geared to keep the animals in a clean, safe environment where they can be as happy as possible given their orphaned circumstances. They even have a ten foot iguana named Banana and this python that sucks the soul right out of you when you think of going near it. They're awesome! ^.^
They keep the fruit bats in what was probably the basement to this converted house at some point in time. They have one that looks like a vampire bat named India but she's harmless and only eats fruit. Her giant talons allow her to hang freely from any limb she chooses and she LOVES her some cantaloupe! Sarah B. was showing us how to feed them and how to prep their food today and we got to help her stage the cages. The other cage next to India is full of tiny little bats and one of them was hanging alone =( Poor little guy! She was telling us that they swarm when they're scared and to be careful if/when we clean out the cages.
We also got to meet this woman that I just want to call Jennifer. That's not her name but for some reason the name Jennifer really seems to fit her. She gets sick alot so she doesn't come every day but she's an employee so I guess that's how things work around there. She showed us the different kind of owls and other birds that they have and even gave us some of their molted feathers! She gave us a tour this morning and then wasn't really sure what to do with us. Not that there's much direction in that place lol. Me and Sarah basically spent four hours painting signs with nothing but "fix the dates" as our general direction. We were pointed toward the paint shed on the southeast side of the building and told to have at it! Really, though, I've never had so little direction on what to do in my life. There were no ground rules given to us, nothing like "Don't _________." It was just basically waiting around for Laurie to see what's up. Which isn't bad but we got there a full hour before she did and that kind of seems like a waste of my time. I guess I didn't realize that most of their day occurs between 1000 and 1600 so in the future me and Sarah will probably not even bother to leave until like 0930 at the earliest.
Laurie seems a little different than I thought she would be. I thought she was going to be more of a mothering woman. I mean, she is but she isn't...if that makes sense. She's really eager to have you on to help but it's like she's so used to doing everything herself she's not quite sure what to do with you just yet. Kind of like that mom that's been tucked away in the kitchen all those years and then her husband hires a nanney. She's still in the kitchen, she's still cooking and watching after the kids, but the nanney kind of sits around waiting for instructions on purpose and meaning to possible actions. It's just probably that we're new and she doesn't know what we can do or what she can trust us with, yet. Sarah B. has only been there for three weeks and she's thirteen and already seems pretty comfortable in what she does so I can only imagine that with me and Sarah as a team that in time we're going to quickly settle in to what we have to do.
Our first big event with this place is going to be Wildfest on 26 July 08. There's going to be magic and funducation, etc. It sounds pretty cool and Sarah says that everything "sounds like heaven" to her so we'll see. We go back on Monday to either tack up some mesh to keep the birds from directly flying at their cage bars and hurting themselves or to paint more signs. Good thing we have sunblock!