A lamb welcomes a nose scratch at Cottontail Cottage Farm Sanctuary in Cherryfield. The sanctuary, which cares for farm and companion animals, has been dealt a financial blow during the pandemic. COTTONTAIL COTTAGE PHOTO

Animal sanctuary struggling amid pandemic

CHERRYFIELD — The nonprofit Cottontail Cottage Farm Sanctuary, dedicated to providing a forever home to farm and companion animals, has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Located in Cherryfield, on a 50-acre farm — but serving the entire state of Maine — Cottontail is home to over 75 farm animals, many of which have come from severe neglect and state welfare cruelty cases.

Run by its co-founders, husband and wife team Jenny and Mathew Nichols, and some dedicated volunteers, Cottontail’s mission is to provide compassion, respect, dignity and love to rescued animals and to give them a place to call home.

In March, due to the threat of COVID-19, the sanctuary closed its doors not only to the public, but its volunteers as well. That left just the Nichols family, who reside on the premises, to carry out the day-to-day running of the farm and care for the animals.

For the next three months, the farm was put on lockdown. Aided by their two teenage daughters, Jenny and Mathew experienced long days that began at the break of dawn and ended by nightfall. Faithful friends came to their aid by dropping hay and food supplies off at the gate.

In late June, and closely following COVID-19 safety guidelines, Cottontail was able to welcome back a handful of volunteers. According to Jenny Nichols, who also acts as the organization’s executive director, this was a huge relief. “A bright light in what was quickly becoming a darkening world — if it wasn’t for all the animals to keep us going.” The real worry, aside from the threat of the virus itself, was the lack of donations. Added to that, the decision was made to cancel this season’s much-anticipated farm tours and to remain closed to the public.

According to Jenny, being on the Downeast coast, a hot spot for tourists, made the risk too great, especially when COVID cases began to increase. However, the loss of public revenue, as a result of the decision, has become a new challenge. The farm sanctuary is not funded by any state, local or government agencies, just by donors and like-minded people who care about the welfare of animals.

Fundraising efforts are currently underway to help Cottontail Cottage Farm Sanctuary. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made on the sanctuary’s website, http://www.cottontailcottage.org; on a popular Fundrazr platform, https://fundrazr.com/c1hHA3?ref=ab_6xVa0; and mailed directly to CCFS, 471 Milbridge Road, Cherryfield, ME 04622.

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