If something is hard it helps to be sure of your motivation. I'm a fledgling vegetarian and lately it's been extra hard, it's getting chilly and the Thanksgiving turkey looms large. Today I went to re-meet my "motivation" at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary, an animal rescue located in Saugerties NY specializing in farm animals http://casanctuary.org/. The place is a miracle for these creatures, some of whom have been rescued from dumpsters, slaughterhouses, meth labs, and the most obscene neglect by their owners.
The Catskill Animal Sanctuary was founded by Kathy Stevens in 2001, and since then 2000 animals have been given the love and care that they should have had in the first place. The first time I visited was unplanned, open house flier 2 years ago, but today was a more mellow visit, small group tour led by Melissa the volunteer (thanks Melissa!) and lots of time to really interact with many of the residents and learn some of their life stories.
This is Dillinger the Phoenix rooster and his girlfriend, he was rescued from a meth lab in St. Louis along with 50 other chickens, malnourished and suffering from frostbite. Chicken and pig farms are useful around a meth lab to cover the drug smells.
This is a little drawing of M.C. (Middle Child) and his little girlfriend Sarah. So it turns out lady chickens have it pretty good, today I heard many stories of rooster chivalry! The rooster does not eat before his woman has had her fill, the finest worms are hers, and if a hawk is flying overhead he guards her under his big strong wings, thats awfully manly! As for smarts chickens are about as intelligent as house cats, which may mean different things to different people;)
This is Ethyl the turkey, I need to go back and do a really good portrait of her sweet face, she has the softest, green almond shaped eyes and was making the softest little noises with her turkey BF. Those 2 followed us through the barn wanting some petting and to be sang to (they say they like it!). The sad part was learning that because of growth hormones they were the equivalent of a 300lb human, in other words morbidly obese and would not be living the long and full life of an unaltered turkey. Also upsetting to learn that there are no Humane Laws in place for poultry... My Thanksgiving problemo solved.
Peggy Sue and Nadine.
Nadine and a pot bellied pig enjoying a gorgeous fall day. Many of these larger pigs are rescued from the meat industry and having been given growth hormones and will grow to a weight of 700lbs, a normal pig weight should be around 250, again morbidly obese and not living the full normal pig lifespan... Some of the rescued pigs were runts "thrown on a pile to die". A few pig facts I didn't know, smarter than dogs, won't lay in their own waste if they can help it, and love belly rubs ( that's a lot of belly), also good swimmers (how??) and super cute when they run:) the pigs I got to hang out with were super doggish, very friendly, came when called, clearly checking people out for food, and wagging their piggy tales which is adorable!
This is Rambo the ram, he was found in a stable with 13 other farm animals and they were never allowed to go outside. Took him a long time to settle down and trust people and now is kind of the mascot of the place. He also has a pretty sheep girlfriend named Hannah who doesn't give him enough "space" and is a little jealous.
This one really broke my heart. Bobo the horse locked in a stall for 9 years in 6 feet of manure. But now she has the good life with a pasture, 2 other blind horse buddies and a handsome boyfriend named Casey (who was found in a junkyard covered with ticks).
This guy stole me heart! Atlas the Nubian goat, recent rescue, owned by a hoarder, malnourished and super crippled. So friendly and sweet and doing so well. In this drawing he is down on his knees eating the grass, his front legs do not "unbend" completely (I don't know how else to explain it), when he came they said he could only walk a few steps before he would tire out and go down in this position but I saw him getting around pretty good, and he's getting stronger...
with the help of his junior physical therapist doling out the goat Scooby Snacks and the very generous donation of a goat "wheelchair".
This place is amazing, and the people are truly amazing and clearly dedicated but the thing that made the biggest impression on me was how these animals, many of whom have had these nightmare pasts and should have no reason to trust people at all are still so sweet and trusting and lovable. Absolutely worth a visit, and so humbling. Kathy Stevens, and everyone at CAS thanks for all you do!