Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Field Trip! A Visit to Farm Sanctuary

I first heard about Farm Sanctuary on Victoria Moran's Main Street Vegan's podcast .  In this particular episode, the co-director of Catskill Animal Sanctuary was interviewed and suggested visiting Farm Sanctuary as a way to educate yourself and others and develop compassion for animals.  I was thrilled to find out the original Farm Sanctuary is located only 90 minutes away from where I live.

Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen was founded in 1986 and was originally funded by the sale of veggie hotdogs.  It is now a 175-acre farm that houses pigs, chickens, turkeys, cattle, ducks and goats.  Guided one-hour tours are given by farm staff and the nominal $5/person admission fee helps to pay for the upkeep of the farm.

I decided to bring Dr. D. and the girls there on a Sunday in late September.  The fall weather was gorgeous and the trees were almost at their peak.  None of us knew what to expect and I think Dr. D. was a little surprised when we entered the gift shop and saw the t-shirts that read, "Vegan. Saving the World One Bite At A Time" and the myriad vegan cookbooks.  He laughed and said, "I guess I should have assumed it would have a heavy vegan influence."  He's such a good sport.

Inside the main area of the visitor barn, there are several items on display.  One of them is a gestation crate which is used to contain pregnant pigs.  These crates are small and do not allow the animal to even turn around.  The grated floors allow the animal's waste to fall beneath it creating a dangerously high level of ammonia from their urine which can result in respiratory illnesses for the pig.

Gestation crate (photo courtesy of Google images)
Right next to the gestation crate is another very small crate; this one used to pen calves used for veal.  Shortly after birth, male calves are taken from their mothers and put in these small crates.  They aren't fed their mother's milk but instead a milk substitute that will purposefully make them anemic and their flesh pale. 

Baby calf in a veal crate (photo courtesy of Google images)

While those sad images stuck with all of us (both girls went vegetarian for a week (!) after our visit), there were so many positive images from that day.

Miss S. makin' a swine smile 
Ryan the Sheep loving the attention from his new friends

Dorothy the Goat

Yours truly with a big pig

Miss M. showing piggy love

Ryan, The Born Again Vegan mascot

The people at Farm Sanctuary are doing such good work in rescuing animals as well as educating the public in an informative but not heavy-handed way.  I urge you to visit them in either Watkins Glen, NYOrland, CA or Los Angeles, CA or make a donation here.  

Coming soon...a peek at Catskill Animal Sanctuary where we will be spending the weekend in their guesthouse for my birthday.

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