I decided that for winter 2022/23 I’d join up with Gary Black a keen photographer, whom I’ve done a couple of other calendars with, to raise money from our calendar for 2023 for Halfpenny-Farm Animal Sanctuary. Mike and Louise were over the moon to have some fundraising done for them and I had the pleasure of popping in past the sanctuary last year to give them some calendars and meet some of the animals.
I’ve known about Halfpenny-Farm for several years and have donated to their fundraising through their Donation button on their website (link through donate button above) but when the storms of winter 22/23 hit, they hit Halfpenny-Farm really hard and they lost some of the buildings housing their animals and damaged others along with fencing. That was a massive blow for them. As both of them spend all of their time looking after the animals they have very little time to arrange or organize fundraising.
So, who are Halfpenny-Farm Animal Sanctuary?
Aberdeenshire couple Mike & Louise run animal sanctuary Halfpenny-Farm near Inverurie and give animals old, ill or at risk a forever home with them. They don’t rehome animals, they bring them into their family and love them like they are their kids.
They moved to the area in 2002 and now have approximately 250 animals in their care and are now pretty much at capacity. They have always had an interest in animals but had not realised how deep it ran until they moved to their current location.
Over time they came to realise there were many animals with various issues who had nowhere to go so they have become a sanctuary for those animals. They may be struggling to find a home due to behavioural problems, untreatable illness, they are now unwanted or there is just nobody else who can take them. Many of the animals were saved from being put to sleep, or have been dumped, left to fend for themselves.
The future of the Sanctuary is uncertain at this time, especially now with food, bedding and utility costs having risen exponentially in recent months. The vet bill in May 2023 was a whopping £3000 and that was before feeding all the animals which is around £2000 per month. Amazingly they pay for most of the costs out of Mike’s retirement lump sum and pension and Louise works part time at the local vets.
Despite having nearly 250 of them animals and birds in their care, they all have names and are all spoken of fondly and I was told many of their stories of how they came to be at Halfpenny. Some of the stories are heartbreaking to hear but it’s lovely to know they can live out the rest of their lives in the comfort and love of Halfpenny.
They had a particularly hard time this year with a lovely little lamb Angus, who became very poorly and they fought hard alongside the vets to save his life, but it wasn’t to be and they lost him recently. While talking about him to me you could see the pain in Louise’s eyes and hear the catch in her throat. He was a special wee boy to them and they really felt his loss.
On the 1st of June this year I was able to return to the farm with a big cheque for £600 and a photo opportunity with Louise (Mike took the photo) and a group of the young volunteers who help out at Halfpenny and had a lovely couple of hours with them. Some of their young volunteers are working towards their Duke of Edinburgh awards and others are students at University training to be vets or applying for that and all their volunteering really helps with their applications. How cool is that!
While chatting with Louise I asked if she ever gets a day off and this was her reply, “Yes, I do get a day off. On a Saturday I work at the vets in the morning and then Mike & I go for the shopping in the afternoon and then we get the animals in at night”. I laughed and said, “you do know that’s not a day off don’t you!”.
Louise also admitted that in the past 17 years they have not had a holiday and the only time she has had a night away from the farm was during a period when an immediate member of her family was unwell. This is true dedication and those animals they care for are truly lucky that they have found their way to the sanctuary.
All the animals at the sanctuary have a place for life with Mike and Louise but that also means that vet bills will increase year on year most likely due to those animals becoming older and more likely to need help medically. Their biggest worry is, what do they do when the money runs out? This is where you can help. Whether you can donate a couple of pounds or much more, every penny is going to count and will be spent on the care and shelter of the animals.
They currently need to fence a big field they have so that they can move some of their horses to fresh grass, but they also need a shelter for that field too. They have gates that need replacing and some of the buildings still need a bit of an upgrade after the storms.