I had been so preoccupied with my commitments at work and with SPCA Selangor, the Malaysian Nature Society, and PT Foundation that I have been quite remiss in my responsibilities to Bentong Farm Sanctuary since our last visit there on August 31.
I finally had the good sense to call Shahrul sometime in October to determine if they needed any help in engaging veterinary services. Shahrul informed me that thanks to the goodwill of Noah's Ark Natural Animal Sanctuary (NANAS), a team would be going to the Sanctuary on November 27 to carry out spaying and neutering of the cats and dogs at the Sanctuary. However, the Sanctuary was experiencing a shortage of cat and dog food. I apologised for not having visited in 2 months and informed her that I would be bringing friends and donations of pet food and supplies over to the Sanctuary on November 20.
And so on the morning of November 20, I gathered a troop of 7 friends (to be met later at the Sanctuary by a troop of another 7-8 friends) and we made our merry way to Bentong to spend time with Shahrul, Jorg and the animals.
It's good to be welcomed back to this quaint little town and the animal sanctuary that now has such an important place in my life.
We were escorted all the way in to the main building in Sanctuary by the dogs, who must have known that we were bringing them lots of food and goodies!
We unloaded hundreds of kilogrammes of pet food, human food (rice, canned food and other dry goods), pet supplies and veterinary supplements, much to Shahrul and Jorg's delight. The generosity of our friends knows no bounds.
At my prompting, Shahrul suggested going to a lesser-known ice cream parlour in town before the ice-cream gets sold out by noon, and so off we trooped in convoy after unloading the food and supplies and greeting the animals. We were so glad that Shahrul suggested this place, Kedai Ice Cream in Jalan Loke Yew, Bentong Town, because the ice cream, being partially hand-cranked, was delicious, and so very cheap! Even my blogging pal Keats and her fellow Sunshine Lady May, being good cooks and therefore connoisseurs of fine foods, agreed that the rich, dense, old-fashioned ice cream at this shop was lovely.
I was a picture of happiness when I received my scoops of grape, peanut and pandan flavoured ice cream!
Speech was unnecessary -- Leonard's facial expression said it all! "Hands off! This is my ice cream!"
The entire bill for the 9 of us humans and the 3 dogs waiting patiently in the cab of the pickup truck for their vanilla scoops came up to only RM31.00, which made us laugh with pleasure and surprise. Shahrul insisted on giving us a treat, despite our protests. The dogs, Dolly, Adik and Sri Devi, ate their ice cream during the ride back to the Sanctuary.
Back at the Sanctuary, two puppies who were quarantined in the kitchen yelped for attention. They seemed indignant at being locked in, while all the action was taking place in the living room and outdoors.
Outside the house, a placid billy goat made a meal of the water lettuce. The raised freshwater pond must have seemed like a buffet table to the goat.
Free-roaming roosters Captain Cook (left) and Handsome (right) are such confident and happy chickens that they didn't think twice about chasing or pecking us when we ventured too far into their territory.
Despite the afternoon heat, we all decided to walk to the stream after Nancy and her troops arrived. It was a long walk, but there is something special and memorable about walking with one's friends, surrounded by nature and accompanied by dogs.
The dogs and the cows meet in a friendly face-off! Who will give way, and who will prevail?
Young timber trees greet us like silent, sturdy green sentinels. The owners and trustees of the Farm Sanctuary had the foresight to plant fruiting trees and timber saplings to make the farm self-sufficient in the years to come.
We stop by the duck pond to feed the ducks and geese. All of them seem healthy and happy, but Jorg told us that a large owl, possibly a Malay Eagle Owl or a Buffy Fish Owl, has been killing and eating some of the ducks. However, due to the principles upon which the Farm Sanctuary was founded, nobody is allowed to trap, kill or chase away the owl. Ducks are part of a carnivorous bird's food chain, and all animals, predators and prey alike, have their place in the web of life.
We finally arrive at the stream! Shahrul gets in first and is joined by her beloved dogs.
Sasha and Meena are contented to just sit by the stream and watch the dogs play.
Hitam and Uncle Dog, who are the best of friends, are joined at their shady spot by Sri Devi.
We had a very late picnic lunch under the trees, due to the fact that we were full from all the ice cream and had spent a good many hours playing in the stream and with the animals. The farmhands cooked us a lovely meal of rice, raitha, dhall, eggs and vegetables, while Nancy and her family brought sandwiches, muffins and red bean dessert, and Keats brought belinjai crackers.
It's time to tidy up and bid our friends, two-legged and four-legged, goodbye! Until we meet again, dear residents of the Bentong Farm Sanctuary, we will be missing you and thinking of you often!
(All photo credits: Leonard and Yen)