Darrowby Farm Sanctuary open house, Oct. 14

Jefferson couple take on 50 farm animals as a sanctuary

Fri, 09/29/2023 - 10:45am

    JEFFERSON—In a rural corner of Maine, a sanctuary for farm animals has quietly taken shape for pigs, goats, equines, and birds who’ve been abandoned or dumped by their owners. Or, who grew too big to be “pets.”

    Amanda Glenn and Andy Theriault bought the 50 acre-property in 2018, not knowing at the time, that a draft horse named Jay would change the course of their lives.

    The couple both grew up in Maine.

    “I quit teaching to start a pet care business,” said Glenn, Darrowby’s founder and director.  “I’d farm-sat for a woman who had a draft horse named Jay and she reached out and asked if we wanted to buy him. At the time, we were living in Tenants Harbor, and it wasn’t feasible. So, we moved to Jefferson with the idea of taking on Jay. The woman who owned him was having a really hard time financially and he was in really bad shape. One of the stressors in his life was that he didn’t have a herdmate, so we found him a mare and they were instantly bonded. Before she even got off the trailer, they were whinnying to each other.”

    From that point forward, their concept of Darrowby Farm Sanctuary —and its residents— grew.

    “We started with two horses, then took in some pigs, and it kept growing,” she said.

    Doing this is a labor of love for the couple as the sanctuary runs purely on donations. Animal sanctuaries do not have a safety net from national organizations. That’s why almost every self-started sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity in the United States.

    The mission is to: “provide a safe and lifelong home for farmed animals, and educate people about living a mutually beneficial life with those animals in ways that do not use them for food or forced labor.”



    1 to 5 p.m.

    Music by Emmett Lalor The Little Cornbread Muffins.
    A pumpkin party for the pigs.
    Sanctuary tours!
    Vegan snacks and treats!

    Their 50 permanent residents include 21 pigs, six goats, four equines, four steers, and a number of ducks, chickens, and turkeys. That also includes their tabby,  Max, the “mayor of Darrowby Farm Sanctuary.”

    “Dogs and cats have a fantastic network of shelters,” said Glenn. “If you have to go into the hospital or hospice, there’s a really good chance someone will take care of your pet. But if you have a farm animal like a steer or goat and something happens to you, you have no options.”

    Glenn said news of their tiny operation has gotten around and those who’ve had to relinquish an animal have done so gratefully, and often in tears. But there are other mornings when they’ve woken up, gone outside, and found animals “dumped”—literally abandoned by car in the middle of the night on their property.

    “We woke up one morning and these pigs were just wandering around in the road,” said Glenn. “Most of our animals have come to us from situations of abuse and neglect. Our local Animal Control Officer (ACO) is wonderful and alerted us to a few animals.”

    One situation that tends to be all too common is the family that thinks it’s a great idea to adopt a teacup or pot-belly pig for the kids. Then the pig grows...and grows...and outgrows the apartment or house.

    One such pig, Beatrice, who is still just getting adjusted to her life on the farm is 200 pounds.  The owners were told that 50 pounds would be “as big as she got,” which is also a stain on unregulated and unethical farm animal breeders who often dupe the owner into thinking the animal will be a certain size, take the money, and absolve themselves of any further responsibility for the animal.

    “There’s no such thing as a teacup pig or a micro pig,” said Theriault. “All pigs will grow and there’s no real way to know how big they’ll get.”

    Beatrice had been kept in a bathroom that was too small for her for five years and had never been outdoors or had a proper diet. When she was brought to Darrowby Farm Sanctuary, she spent her first morning in an outside pen staring up at the sunrise for hours.  Because she’d never encountered another farm animal,  she was terrified of the other pigs. Gilbert, one of their larger pigs, took it upon himself to acclimate Bea and continued to interact with her.

    “And now they sleep together every night,” said Glenn. “She sleeps between his front and back legs.”

    Stories like this are all too common. They also keep ducks who were likely bought as cute ducklings for Easter and abandoned.

    “Do your research, expect to be responsible for them for a lifetime, and know how long that lifetime will be and have the right facilities,” said Glenn.

    When news of an operation like this gets out, as per usual, more surrenders of animals begin to exceed what is economically feasible. “We have breakdowns of what each animal costs per year in terms of food, medicine, and other necessities,” she said. “So we have sponsorship programs for each animal and a lot of that helps to defray the costs.” 

    Glenn said neighbors and community members have given them a lot of help, which keeps their animals in good mental and physical health. They collect excess produce from local food banks and one neighbor even collects apples out of her orchards and donates them by the bucket. “We have a lot of people who are very supportive of us,” said Glenn.

    The dream is to take in as many animals that need their help. However, they have to be mindful of sustainability and what their limited means can currently provide the existing animals. They have the space.

    “So far, since June, we’ve turned away 40 animals. Every time it feels devastating,” she said.

    For more information on the farm visit: https://www.darrowbyfarmsanctuary.org/

    Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com