being ‘in the zone’ at jacobs ridge

a volunteering holiday


two springs ago i spent a week volunteering at the animal sanctuary jacobs ridge in south-eastern spain. i’d been following their facebook posts about a pig named sweetpea for some time and this alone was enough to convince me i really had to go and check this place out. it turned out to be a truly unique life experience for me.

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jacobs ridge is a private sanctuary home to once abused and exploited animals, from horses and donkeys to goats, cats, dogs and, of course, pigs – lots of pigs! the ranch is run with so much love and care by a wonderful team led by julian. together with rachael, abbie and lisa you’re taught how to care for all the animals, how to feed, water, groom and clean up after them. it’s a real joy to get hands on with the daily chores but there is no pressure whatsoever to work. you basically spend your days at the ridge as you wish.

you are also encouraged to interact with the animals as much as you can, which they appreciate; they are such intelligent creatures, each with their own personality. if we open our hearts and minds, animals can teach us so much. after a couple of days you start hanging out more and bonding with your favorites. i melted for timmy, the cross-eyed cat, oreo the voracious pig and woody, a gentle-mannered horse and skilled escape artist.

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jacob’s ridge is a place where animals and humans live together, no one harming another, so as you might expect, the catering is totally vegan, with scrumptious food prepared with much passion by lisa. mealtimes are also an opportunity for laughter and moving stories of people’s experiences with the animals.

one of the highlights at the end of the day is to sleep in your own cozy and comfortable tipi tent among the lemon trees, surrounded by all the sounds of nature. in the evenings, singing birds rock you to sleep and in the (very!) early morning you are awoken by the donkeys. even if it’s way too early to get up, you can’t help but start your day smiling.

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the magic really begins when you start to unwind after a couple of days, letting go of all the world’s ills. most things don't really matter anymore when you are cleaning up donkey poop, walking the dogs or rubbing pig bellies. it feels like you are right where you need to be or, as julian would say, simply being ‘in the zone’. for a time it feels like everything is going to be alright.

spend your next volunteering holiday here and it will be one of the best things you ever do, i promise. but don’t delay, spaces are filling up fast!

for more information visit their facebook page and website.
there are many ways you can help to change so many lives at the ranch without volunteering: consider sponsoring an animal or purchasing a gift : www.jacobsridge.com.