The Lucky Ones by Woodstock FAS Founder Jenny Brown: Review & Giveaway!

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Update, July 1, 2013:

& the winner is (*drumroll please*) #8, Kenney!

Check your email to claim your prize!

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In anticipation of the upcoming July 2nd paperback release, Penguin generously provided me with two copies of The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals, written by Woodstock FAS founder Jenny Brown and fellow vegan Gretchen Primack – one to review, and one to give away!

To enter to win a copy for your very own self, simply answer this question in the comments: if you could visit Woodstock tomorrow, which of the residents – human or non – would you most like to meet? (Hint: there’s a partial list available on Woodstock’s website.) Or just tell me why you need this book! I’m not fussy.

For a second entry, tweet this message and leave a second comment telling me you did so.

THE LUCKY ONES by @WoodstockFarm Founder Jenny Brown: #Review & #Giveaway! Enter to #win your own copy here: http://bit.ly/12PyHx8 #vegan

The contest is open now through Monday, July 1st at tPM CDT. I’ll randomly choose and contact a winner shortly thereafter. The winner will have 72 hours to respond, after which time I’ll choose someone else. Please leave an email address in the form when commenting (don’t worry, it’s private!) so we can get in touch. I’ll ship the book anywhere in the United States and Canada.

Good luck, and happy reading!

 

A Five-Hankie Review

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the publisher’s invitation.)

“I often envision a giant protective bubble over our property, and inside it a place where everything is right in the world, the way we want it to be. Animals roam free, living happy and peaceful lives the way they should. They are free to be themselves, among friends and, in some cases, family. There is no fear of harm, no want for food or water, warmth or shelter. They have everything they need. They are loved, and treated with respect and compassion, until their dying moments in our arms, when they are wet from our tears. We coexist with them, never considering ourselves superior or their ‘owners.’ We don’t use them as commodities or exploit them in any way. They are our friends. Beloved friends. They owe us nothing. But what they do give, unconsciously, is the greatest asset to our work. They are ambassadors for all others like them, showing humans that other animals are not mere automatons.” (pp. 223-224)

As a teenager slinging burgers at the Doublemeat Palace in Sunnydale – errr, serving burgers at a Louisville McDonald’s; sorry, I got my superheroes confused for a second there! – Jenny Brown never imagined that she’d one day devote her life to rescuing the very animals she enjoyed sandwiched between two slices of bread – let alone give up a promising career in film to do so.

Along with her husband, film editor Doug Abel, Brown founded Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in 2004; their wedding ceremony served as the nonprofit’s inaugural fundraiser. Located just outside of Woodstock, New York, in the neighboring town of Willow, Woodstock FAS is home to over 200 rescued “farm” animals, including runaway cow Kayli, who literally escaped death in a New York City “live kill” market when she bolted for it through the city streets; the infamous goat Albie who, like his guardian, sports one “fake” leg; and Petunia, a “Thanksgiving” turkey purchased as a gag. They are the lucky ones – a precious few of the ten billion animals enslaved and slaughtered for meat, dairy, and eggs every year in the United States alone (not counting fishes and associated “bycatch”) who are fortunate enough to find sanctuary with human allies.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Confronting Animal Exploitation: Grassroots Essays on Liberation and Veganism, Kim Socha and Sarahjane Blum, eds. (2013)

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Abolitionist Vegan Voices from the Trenches of the Twin Cities

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: at my request, the publisher provided me with a free copy of this book for review.)

Born of a beautifully simple idea, Confronting Animal Exploitation: Grassroots Essays on Liberation and Veganism provides a platform for everyday, in-the-trenches animal activists to share their stories. More specifically, these author-activists all live in or around Minnesota’s Twin Cities and subscribe to the abolitionist vegan perspective (even if not all of the contributors label themselves as such). The result is a captivating, surprisingly diverse collection of essays that addresses myriad aspects of the animal liberation movement, from the obvious (welfare reform and “humane” meat; the problems with capitalist models of reform; the alienation of being a vegan in a non-vegan world) to connections seemingly obscure (animal-friendly themes in Stephen King’s oeuvre).

The essays in CAE are grouped into four themes: Theory for Praxis, Veganism in Action, Narratives of Change, and Moving Toward Revolution. Those already involved in the animal liberation movement will no doubt see a name or two that they recognize. Longtime activist Dallas Rising, for example, kicks off the anthology with an examination of why so many people actively choose to ignore the suffering of nonhuman animals (“Turning Our Heads: The ‘See No Evil’ Dilemma”). Perhaps the most frustrating roadblock encountered by activists, she attributes this willful ignorance to ethnocentrism, a fear of social ostracism, and the pain inherent in recognizing such traumas: we are at once perpetrators and victims of animal exploitation – an idea expertly grounded in Judith Herman’s classic text Trauma and Recovery. Rising’s second contribution – “Tales of an Animal Liberationist” – is at once inspiring and heartbreaking, and highlights the power of personal narratives in changing hearts and minds (and hopefully behavior as well).

In a community in which BBQ fundraisers and meat-based “Spay-ghetti and No Balls” dinners are the rule rather than the exception, vegans who work with companion animal rescue groups are no strangers to this disconnect. People who break their hearts and empty their bank accounts to save dogs and cats think nothing of selling the dead and dismembered bodies of cows and pigs to fund their efforts – and please their own palates. Melissa E. Masske makes a moving argument for sticking it out in such situations, both because animal rescue is a rewarding and effective form of direct action in and of itself – and to introduce “animal people” to the tenets of veganism (“Introducing Speciesism to the Rescue Community”).

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2013-05-12

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Got those red state blues.

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Blue Girl

More like “Green Girl, Red State.” CC image via DieselDemon on Flickr.
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Perhaps the greatest downside to living in a rural area, and particularly a rural area in an already red state? Knowing that you’ve not a snowball’s chance in hell of electing a politician who even approximates your values and beliefs. “Approximates,” not “shares” – I hold enough unpopular opinions to know that I’ll never live to see a politician on the state or federal level with whom I see eye to on most issues, not even if I up and move to San Francisco. That said, I don’t expect to be outright insulted for my beliefs when contacting an elected representative, in a polite and respectful manner, about pending legislation.

What follows is an email exchange I had with my state House Representative, Glen Klippenstein (R-MO, 5th District), about Missouri House Bill 1860, our state’s answer to the increasing popularity of “ag gag” bills. (Check out Will Potter’s excellent coverage of this and other forms of activist repression at Green is the New Red.) I was responding to an action alert sent out by PETA; usually I edit form letters, both to personalize them and to scrub them of any speciesism (distressingly common in form letters from enviro groups), but at the state level I’m fairly certain that mine is the only copy my representatives will receive. (Though in retrospect, I really should have replaced the link to meat.org with a different resource. No matter how unfair and undeserved the reputation, referring to a website run by what’s widely regarded as a “radical extremist” group really isn’t the best choice. That and I’d rather not be associated with them in any way, shape, or form, thankyouverymuch.)

As a conservative Republican and cattle breeder (GlenKirk Farms “has sold cattle, semen, and embryos across America and worldwide” – so much for protecting the unborn!) who has served as chairman of the National Beef Promotion and Research Board, I wasn’t expecting a particularly sympathetic ear from Rep. Klippenstein. That said.

 
 

—–Original Message—–
From: Advocate [mailto:advocate@animalactivist.com] On Behalf Of Kelly Garbato
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 12:25 AM
To: Glen Klippenstein
Subject: Please Oppose H.B. 1860

Apr 19, 2012

Representative Glen Klippenstein
State Capitol, Room 410A
201 West Capitol Avenue
Jefferson City, MO 65101

Dear Representative Klippenstein,

I am writing as your constituent to urge you to oppose House Bill
(H.B.) 1860. This bill, which would make it a crime to photograph or record video or sound of a farm without the farm owner’s consent, is a clear attempt to prevent the public from learning about the routine cruelty that takes place on factory farms. If signed into law, it would infringe on citizens’ rights to expose cruelty to animals.

Past investigations of factory farms resulted in criminal convictions of farm managers and workers found beating, sexually abusing, stomping on, kicking, and throwing animals. To watch the video footage and see why it is so important that citizens retain their freedom to document crimes against animals on factory farms and relay the evidence to law-enforcement authorities, please visit Meat.org.

Please don’t let the farming industry hide behind closed doors: Oppose H.B. 1860.

Thank you for your attention and for all that you do for Missourians.

Sincerely,

Ms. Kelly Garbato
[Address removed]

 
 

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Glen.Klippenstein@house.mo.gov
Date: Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 9:24 AM
Subject: RE: Please Oppose H.B. 1860
To: kelly.garbato@gmail.com

Kelly,
To say that this legislation is a clear attempt to prevent the public from learning about the routine cruelty that takes place on factory farms, shows extraordinary contempt for the vast majority of honorable people that actually know the real story and feed you.

Thank you for your e-mail.

Glen
Rep. Glen Klippenstein
5th District

 
 
(More below the fold…)

Oprah’s Favorite Things: Cracker Box Palace ("You get a rescue goat! And you get a rescue goat! EVERYBODY GETS A RESCUE GOAT!!!")*

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

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So you’ve vicariously tasted the yummy vegan eats at The Owl House as part of veganmofo iv, and last week I introduced you to Ms. Chicktoria. Though it’s now four months after the fact, there’s still one set of vacation photos I’d like to share from my September visit to Rochester. Because they’re from an ANIMAL SANCTUARY and who doesn’t like pictures of SUPER-CUTE RESCUE ANIMALS, hmmmm? Besides, it’s like zero degrees outside and there’s a three-foot snow drift on my patio and I could use a vacation, even if only in my own head.

Initially, my sis and I had our hearts set on visiting Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen – but unfortunately the fall tour hours (weekends only!), coupled with the lengthy drive time and previous commitments, just didn’t fit into our schedule. My mom suggested that we instead visit Cracker Box Palace Farm Animal Haven, a new-ish farmed animal sanctuary located in Alton, NY. (Alton is a short drive from Sodus – which is where I spent the first five years of my life – and Sodus, in turn, is a 45-minute drive from Rochester. In comparison, Watkins Glen is twice as far.)

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According to the group’s website, CBP opened in 2001 on a 50-acre former migrant farm. Originally dedicated to horse rescue and rehab, the sanctuary is now home to geese, ducks, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, and several breeds of pigs as well. Currently, it’s leasing and attempting to purchase Alasa Farms, a 500-acre historic Shaker farm.

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The weekend we visited, the group was holding a fair to help raise funds for the purchase.

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Before we begin, a bit of a disclaimer: on its website, Cracker Box Palace isn’t particularly forthcoming about its positions on animal rights and veganism/vegetarianism. In some newsletters, for example, the founders allude to the cruelties of factory farming and ask for donations of vegetarian cookbooks for CBP’s gift shop. They also speak approvingly of Farm Sanctuary and credit its courses with teaching them the skills necessary to start and run an animal sanctuary. (While you may disagree with some of Farm Sanctuary’s positions – and I do – the group does include animal rights and veganism in its advocacy.)

(More below the fold…)

Meet Jasper, Sasha, Filipe, Teddy, Amigo and Pancho…and the Farm Animal Adoption Network!

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Back in March, Farm Sanctuary came to the rescue of six calves who were left to starve at a farm in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Some were left tethered to a tractor, while others were found locked in a garage; all were abandoned by their “owner.”* Most likely castoffs of the dairy industry, the calves were weak, frail and sickly and required immediate medical care:

After learning about the suffering calves, Farm Sanctuary immediately launched a rescue effort, and staff drove to pick up the calves halfway between the Pennsylvania farm and our New York Shelter. The calves we greeted were a terrible sight. Their eyes were sunken in from severe dehydration, and they were pale, coughing and extremely weak. They were fighting life-threatening infections, and most were unable to stand on their own. Four of the calves weighed less than they would have at birth, and their prognosis looked grim. Medical care was urgently needed to stabilize the calves, so our rescue team rushed them to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals for critical emergency care.

The following weeks were filled with constant care and anxious waiting as these sickly calves struggled to become well. But slowly, their fragile, battered bodies began to heal, and, in time, each came home from the hospital.

Though their lives began in violence and suffering, these babies are now safe, valued and loved. And in need of a forever home!: Farm Sanctuary is currently looking for one or more individuals to adopt dear Jasper, Sasha, Filipe, Teddy, Amigo and Pancho – as well as Vito and Clancy, two young Holstein steers who managed to escape from their captors before finding Farm Sanctuary. Thanks to Farm Sanctuary (as well as the Hillside SPCA and an anonymous tipster), these someones now have names whereas only numbers hinted at their unique, individual identities before. They are so much more than cogs in a capitalist machine, or producers of milk and flesh. They are sons, brothers, friends.

If you are willing and able to adopt any of these sweethearts (all of whom must be rehomed in pairs), you can find contact information and addition details here.

(More below the fold…)

The Animal Experience (On the Peaceful Prairie Signature Billboard Campaign)

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Peaceful Prairie - Signature Billboards

Eight of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary’s sixty-two Signature Billboards, all from the “We Know Our Victims Well” series. Clockwise from the top left:
They long to live as much as we do.
(A single white duck gazes into the camera.)
They long to be loved as much as we do.
(Hen and rooster Libbie and Louie find refuge in one another’s touch.)
They face life together like we do.
(A pair of ducks wander through the snow.)
They love their children as much as we do.
(An adult llama and his child smile together.)
They need their mothers as much as we do.
(A cow nuzzles his mother.)
They protect their children as fiercely as we do.
(A cow and her calf stare defiantly ahead.)
They raise families like we do.
(A duck family – complete with five youngsters – strolls along in harmony.)
They fall in love like we do.
(One cow licks another with obvious affection.)
——————————

A few weeks ago, the always-awesome Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary unveiled a new campaign to aid activists in combating speciesism – and all the oppressions it sanctions – specifically that directed towards “food” animals. With its Signature Billboards, Peaceful Prairie gives faces, individualities, life stories, and emotions to the many animals we call “food” – cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, sheep, lambs, goats and fishes:

They speak for themselves…

We don’t always have the opportunity to raise awareness of the animals’ plight during daily email correspondence but now, with Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary’s latest campaign, we’ve made it easy and effective for anyone to learn how their actions can save the lives of other animals, lives that matter to them as much our lives matter to us.

The graphics – each of which pictures one or more nonhuman animals, as well as a brief but powerful statement about her life experiences, relationships with/to other nonhumans, and/or personhood – are organized around four main themes:

  • We Know Our Victims Well;
  • 55 Billion Reasons to Live Vegan;
  • Humane Farming, An Oxymoron; and
  • Subjects of a Life

Designed for use as email signatures, you can also display these graphics on your blog or website, or share them on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

(More below the fold…)

Libby and Louie (a Valentine’s Day Love Story)

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Peaceful Prairie 2010 V-Day Vegan eCard

If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Deer Trail, Colorado this Sunday, stop by Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary for a Vegan Valentine’s Day Brunch. In a delightful re-imagining of an otherwise blasé day, filled with tired gender roles and patriarchal mores, the Peaceful Prairie celebration will include a commemoration of animal love – that shared by chickens Libby and Louie – told over a plate of cruelty-free waffles, quiche, tofu scramble, fruit and coffee cake, of course!

A lame, silent hen and a handsome, fire-red rooster, respectively, these rescued birds have sought solace in one another’s presence – and one another’s presence alone – for the past five years and counting. If anything, their story serves as a gentle reminder that human animals do not have a monopoly on love – nor on kindness, compassion, selflessness, sacrifice, devotion, and family.

In Libby and Louie, A Love Story, Joanna Lucas writes of a love so pure and so true, undying and never-ending, such that any human would count herself lucky to be caught in its bonds.

And there they were. Just the two of them in the world. A monogamous couple in a species where monogamy is the exception. Determined to stay together even though their union created more problems than it solved, increased their burdens more than it eased them, and thwarted their instincts more than it fulfilled them.

It would have been easier and more “natural” for Louie to be in charge of a group of hens, like all the other roosters, but he ignored everyone except Libby. He paid no attention to the fluffy gray hen, the fiery blonde hen, the dreamy red hen, the sweet black hen dawdling in her downy pantaloons, or any of the 100 snow-white hens who, to our dim perceptions, looked exactly like Libby. Louie, the most resplendently bedecked and befeathered rooster of the sanctuary, remained devoted only to Libby – scrawny body, scraggly feathers, missing foot, hobbled gait and all. It’s true that, with our dull senses, we couldn’t grasp a fraction of what he saw in her because we can’t see, smell, hear, touch, taste, sense a scintilla of the sights, scents, sounds, textures, and tastes he does. But, even if we could see Libby in all her glory, it would still be clear that it wasn’t her physical attributes that enraptured Louie. If he sought her as his one and only companion, if he protected that union from all intrusions, it wasn’t because of her physique but because of her presence.

It would have been easier for Libby too – so vulnerable in her stunted, lame body – to join an existing chicken family and enjoy the added comfort, cover and protection of a larger group, but she never did. She stayed with Louie, and followed him on his daily treks in the open fields, limping and gimping behind him, exhausting herself only to be near him.

What bonded them was not about practical necessities or instinctual urges – if anything, it thwarted both. Their union was about something else, a rich inner abundance that seemed to flourish in each other’s presence, and that Libby nurtured in her silence and that Louie voiced, sang out loud, celebrated, noted, catalogued, documented, expressed, praised every day of their 1,800 days together.

Should we all – humans and nonhumans alike – be so blessed.

(More below the fold…)

From ownership and exploitation to connection and compassion – for all.

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Last month, I wrote about a series of videos in which Compassionate Cook Colleen Patrick-Goudreau examines the intersecting threads of human and animal exploitation. Specifically, we looked at four segments in the series: Female Exploitation; Maternal Instincts; Inherent Violence; and A Return to Compassion. Well, several weeks have passed, bringing with them three new videos to discuss!

In Domesticating Animals: From Reverence to Ownership, Patrick-Goudreau points to the agricultural revolution – in which humans transitioned from a foraging to farming lifestyle – as the beginning of the end of our harmonious relationship with nature and other animals. With the domestication of plants, nonhuman animals and land came human ownership of these “things”; living beings became property to be hoarded, protected and defended. This rush to affluence – to gather and own as much as possible – also triggered conflict between humans, including the human exploitation of other humans.

Patrick-Goudreau emphasizes the deleterious effects of reducing animals to property – essentially, commodities to be bought and sold – throughout this short video. Historically, marginalized groups of humans – women, people of color, those belonging to lower socioeconomic classes – have also been treated as the property of more privileged humans. I’m especially interested in how closely these two phenomenon are linked; did they occur almost simultaneously? Did the fall of women come close on the heels of the devaluation of nonhuman animals? Are humans doomed as long as we continue to exploit nonhuman animals?

I think y’all know my answer to these questions: No one is free while others are oppressed.

(More below the fold…)

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child. *

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Karma, a cow spared a life of suffering on a “small ranch” by the farmed animal sanctuary Gentle Barn. After they ferried her to safety, Karma’s rescuers soon realized that she had recently given birth, and was crying out in misery for her child, who had been left behind. Long story short, Gentle Barn was able to persuade the rancher to relinquish custody of Karma’s baby, who they named Mr. Rojas. Mother and child were reunited, and months later – much to Gentle Barn’s surprise – Karma gave birth to another calf. Happily, Karma and sons will be able to live out the rest of their lives in safety and security, together as a family – the way it should be, for animals everywhere.

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Unfortunately, precious few stories have such a happy ending. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Karma’s tale when I received this press release from Farm Sanctuary:

Lamb Born in Transport Truck on Way to Bronx Slaughterhouse Finds Refuge at Farm Sanctuary as Mother Goes to Slaughter

Watkins Glen, NY – September 22, 2009 – A lamb born on a transport truck on the way to a Bronx slaughterhouse was rescued yesterday by Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, and brought to their shelter in Watkins Glen, NY. The minutes old lamb was discovered by a Good Samaritan who was shopping at an Italian market just a few doors down from the slaughterhouse when the truck arrived. Wanting to get a closer look at the sheep as they were unloaded, the woman walked over to the truck and was shocked to discover a newborn lamb among the herd, as well as a less fortunate lamb who had been trampled to death during transport.

When she brought the lamb to the truck driver’s attention, he grabbed him and handed him to her, explaining that one of the sheep must have given birth on the truck. When asked by the concerned citizen if it would be possible to reunite the struggling newborn with his mother, the driver told her there was no way to identify the lamb’s mother, as there were more than one hundred sheep on the truck. Refusing to leave the abandoned lamb alone to starve or be trampled to death by the flock, the woman convinced the slaughterhouse manager to relinquish him to her. As the lamb’s mother went to slaughter, she took the newborn home to her Yonkers residence, where he spent the first five days of his life growing very attached to the woman’s elderly mother— who he reportedly followed around the house like a puppy.

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“We are so thankful we were able to rescue this sweet lamb, who was born under circumstances no animal should ever have to endure,” said Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary’s national shelter director. “Having witnessed the deep and loving bond between mother sheep and their lambs at our sanctuary, we know first-hand how traumatic this experience must have been for both mother and baby. Unfortunately, such tragedies are an all too common result of a profit-driven industry that rips babies away from their mothers and packs sensitive, intelligent animals onto trucks so densely they cannot move, causing many to die before they even reach the slaughterhouse. This lamb may have been born under horrific circumstances, but he will live at our shelter as an ambassador, educating thousands of visitors from all over the country about the plight of animals whose first and only taste of life is the inside of a sweltering transport truck or a dark, filthy factory farm.”

(More below the fold…)

A tale of Karma.

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Last November, the kind folks at Gentle Barn animal sanctuary rescued a group of cows – along with many “Thanksgiving” turkeys – from abusive living conditions on a “local ranch” (one of those small family farms of lore, perhaps?). Unbeknown to Gentle Barn, one of their newest bovine residents had recently given birth to a calf – a baby – who was not ferried to safety with his mother.

Though the “rancher” neglected to inform Gentle Barn of the situation, the estranged mother did not:

While we were rescuing Thanksgiving turkeys from a local ranch in 2008, we couldn’t help but notice the horrific conditions in which the other animals were living. Unable to stomach what we were witnessing, we came home with two of the ten cows who were in the worst shape and were pregnant.

When they got home to The Gentle Barn, one of the cows seemed inconsolably distraught. She was trying to get out of the pen, pacing, sweating, and mooing as though screaming for someone. Throughout the first night, she kept crying out, barely pausing to take a breath.

At first, we thought her stress was from missing all of the animals she had left behind, or from feeling unsure of her new surroundings. But by morning, when her cries had not stopped, we realized something more serious was going on. We also noticed that her utter was full now and she was expressing milk. When we called back to the place we rescued her from, our fears were confirmed. She had been separated from her calf, and we were informed that her baby was being sold that day to someone else for slaughter. We demanded that they release the baby to us, knowing that this cow would die of heartbreak otherwise, and they agreed, especially because their truck had broken down and they couldn’t deliver the calf to the other people and we had a trailer…small miracles!

When we arrived at The Gentle Barn with the calf, his mom heard his voice, she jumped up and practically broke through the pasture fencing to get to her calf. When we lead her tiny baby to reunite with her, the calf collapsed on the ground in front of her. As she licked him and nuzzled him with the gentlest touch, he got up. As the baby nursed, for the first time in twelve hours, the mom let out a long moo, like the biggest sigh of relief. Now that her baby is with her, she has not made a single sound. She is happy and at peace, and the two will never be separated again.

Once they were reunited, we went back and rescued the rest of the cows. So now, all ten cows are safe and sound at The Gentle Barn.

The reunion of mother Karma and baby Mr. Rojas is documented in Karma’s Reunion. Embedding is disabled, so please head on over to YouTube and watch the video. It clocks in at just under five minutes, and is a real tear-jerker. While the images are moving enough on their own, Gentle Barn further emphasizes the themes of nonhuman intelligence, family and love through the addition of captions.

Karma’s story is beautiful and moving – but it doesn’t end with the birth of Mr. Rojas. In a recent newsletter, Gentle Barn updates us on “Karma’s Surprise”:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: The Gentle Barn – info [at] gentlebarn.org
Date: Fri, Aug 21, 2009 at 1:57 PM
Subject: Karma and Her Big Surprise!

Karma’s Surprise

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As you might remember, we rescued a cow named Karma last year. The man we rescued her from did not let us know she had a baby, until she cried for 12 hours straight. We then realized that the only thing that could cause her so much distress is being separated from a baby. So, we went back to the cruelty site we rescued her from and sure enough there was her baby about to be sent to slaughter. We rescued her tiny baby boy and brought him home to the safety of The Gentle Barn. Karma and her son, Mr. Rojas, have been together ever since.

(More below the fold…)

Ruby Roth brings the cuteness.

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Update, 5/19/09:

Stephanie (of the Animal Rights blog at Change.org) also wrote about That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, and the importance of children’s books in fostering compassion in the next generation. Check it out – as a former nanny, her thoughts on this are quite relevant. (Me, I don’t even have so much as a niece or nephew, and haven’t really been around a young’un for twenty years or so!)

—————-

A few days ago – possibly while browsing Vegan Dad’s archives in search of yummy vegan recipes – I stumbled upon a link to That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: A Site About Vegans, Vegetarians, and all Living Things. Populated by whimsical drawings of chickens, pigs, cows, dolphins and bugs, and aimed at the naturally animal-loving training wheels set, TWWDEA, is so ridiculously cute that it kind of makes me want to be a kid again.

Better yet, the website’s actually a supplement to an upcoming children’s book by author/artist/teacher Ruby Roth (who herself is a bundle of vegan cuteness) called That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: A Site About Vegans, Vegetarians, and all Living Things.

That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals takes a candid, compassionate look at the plight of animals on factory farms, using gorgeous artwork and lively text to introduce vegetarianism and veganism to early readers.

An endearing cast of animals is shown both in their natural state—rooting around, bonding, nuzzling, cuddling, grooming one another, and charming each other with their family instincts and rituals—and in the sad conditions of the factory farm. The book also addresses the effect eating animals has on our environment, rainforests, and endangered species. At the end, a section entitled “What Else Can We Do?” suggests ways children can learn more about the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.

The boldest step yet in children’s literature, this heartfelt, informative book offers a key resource to inspire parents and children to talk about a timely, increasingly important subject.

Ms. Roth explains the genesis and gist of the book in this video, also available on the site:

The book is geared towards kids aged 4 to 10, and has received endorsements from an impressive and lengthy list of advocates and activists, including Jane Goodall (herself quite the children’s writer/educator), Alicia Silverstone, John Robbins, Ed Begley, Jr., Ingrid Newkirk and Rory Freedman.

You can view more of Ms. Roth’s artwork on her Flickr stream, where she shares some super-sweet bumper sticker style drawings. They’re all adorable, but I especially love this one:

Probably due in no small part to my recent thoughts on animal agriculture and its effects on the parent/child bond, which is as strong (if not more so) in many non-human animal species as it is in homo sapiens.

(More below the fold…)

Family and friends.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been busy and tired and stressed and [insert your excuse here]. Still recovering from a weekend spent hauling railroad ties to and fro, in order to prepare the garden for the coming season. I was so tired last night, I had trouble sleeping, and woke up exhausted. I hate it when that happens.

Anyway, go check out Sanctuary Tails, one of Farm Sanctuary’s latest projects (the other being Making Hay). I’m totally digging on the new blog, and find myself returning to it whenever I’m in need of a smile – it never fails to deliver.

Many of the most recent entries deal with love, family and friendship among the sanctuary’s varied inhabitants: there’s Dutch the duck, Molly and Morgan the goats, and Sprinkles and Tim the piglets.

Oh, the piglets!

There’s not an animal species on earth I don’t love, but I’ve got a special place in the cockles for pigs. Probably because my own two (canine) girls, Kaylee and O-Ren, remind me of a mama sow and her baby piglet. They both have cute lil’ piggy butts; Kaylee, owing to the several+ litters she birthed before making her way to us, has a slightly stretched belly and large, obviously, err, used nipples, whereas Rennie’s got a bald, pink, pokey lil’ tummy. In the morning, Kaylee barks and dances for breakfast, while Rennie will stay behind in bed with me (if Shane’s nice and present enough to feed the dogs before I arise), roll over onto my pillow, and rub her “piggy fat” in my face. I cannot think of a more delightful way to start the day. Seriously.

Speaking of the family, now’s as good a time as any to share a few photos of Shane and the dogs. I took ’em Sunday afternoon, after we’d finished the weekend’s yardwork, which is why he looks so beat. The dogs, on the other hand, spent the day lounging in the sun, so they were full of…something. Ralphie and Peedee were play-fighting all over the place, totally oblivious to Miss Kaylee, who just wanted a little lovin’ from daddy. Rennie, as usual, was all about the tennis ball.

2009-03-22 - Shane & Dogs - 0007

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Valentine Piglets & Cow Kisses!

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Now for a much-needed (over)dose of cuteness. Behold! Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary’s Valentine Piglets!

The story of the piglets’ origins is a sad one, which I’d rather not delve into for fear of negating the cuteness factor*; suffice to say that their story runs counter to popular, romanticized conceptions about “sustainable meat,” “small/backyard/diy farming” and the like**. Luckily, Nemo, Eva, Pinky and Wally survived their first days on earth, and in time made their way to the good folks at Woodstock FAS. Here, they’ve found permanent sanctuary – until, of course, a pig lover (read: not eater!) whisks them away to their new home, for a lifetime of piggy snuggles and belly rubs.

Bonus cuteness: Kisses from Dylan the Cow!

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ARA PSA of the Day: Let Meat Live!

Friday, November 7th, 2008

OK, so these ads for The Coup Vegetarian Restaurant aren’t technically public service announcements, but I get a kick out of ’em nonetheless. Plus, even though they’re meant to market a business, they do so by promoting vegetarianism and a compassionate diet. “Let Meat Live!,” indeed.

The Coup Vegetarian Restaurant - Sheep

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"Fruit, like beauty, is fleeting."

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

All I know is that, when I went out into the chicken yards early yesterday morning, I actually staggered, made drunk by the intensity of a floral scent that filled up all of the air in my head, sending my brain into paroxysms of surprised delight. Can you imagine: A chicken yard that smells like a perfume factory? Even though it happens every year, I kept looking around for the source of the scent, almost unable to believe that I could be lucky enough to experience something like this accidentally.

Maybe that was nature’s way of bracing me for what was coming. My favorite bird had died the day before and I had to face the first morning of doing my chores accompanied by her absence. […]

“Broiler” hens are like wild blooms, having a ragged beauty that you sometimes must look closely to perceive and always living less long than you would like. Bred by the poultry industry to have heavy flesh that burdens their organs and stresses their skeletons, they often perish abruptly due to heart attacks, heatstroke, or the enigmatic cause of sudden death known as “flip over syndrome.” The metabolic acceleration that allows the industry to “grow” birds to slaughter weight in only six to eight weeks continues throughout their lives. […]

The New Mosselle was older than two, a great achievement for a “broiler” hen. At first, she had no way of knowing I had a special affection for her, as I tend to dote on all of the “broiler” chickens (by, for example, bringing treats right to them so that they won’t have to compete with with the faster birds). But as she got older, I started whispering, “you’re my favorite” whenever she happened to be close by. On what I had no idea would be her last day, I told her that first thing in the morning and again when I happened to pass her resting by a water bowl at midday. A couple of hours later, when I went out to put straw in the coops, I saw her sleeping in the shade and then looked more closely and realized she was dead. I howled.

That was Monday. Today is Wednesday. My favorite hen is buried with some blueberries and a sprig of honeysuckle underneath the plantain she and her friends so loved to munch. Right up the road, thousands of birds like her are choking in crowded sheds. They will never smell honeysuckle or taste a blueberry.

Go read the whole damn beautiful thing.

And, if you can, consider sending some money pattrice’s way. She cares for hundreds of discarded “food” animals at the Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary, dontchaknow.

(Crossposted to.)

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Farm Sanctuary Mourns Loss of Founding Resident

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

There are also a few photos of Opie on Flickr, and on Farm Sanctuary’s website here. So sad, his passing is, but at least he only knew a few hours of human cruelty, followed by 18 years of bliss at Farm Sanctuary. Dog bless, sweet boy.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Farm Sanctuary – info [at] farmsanctuary.org
Date: Wed, Apr 2, 2008 at 5:00 PM
Subject: Farm Sanctuary Mourns Loss of Founding Resident

Farm Sanctuary Mourns Loss of Founding Resident

On a cold day 18 years ago, a tiny calf, no more than a few hours old, was abandoned and left for dead at a stockyard in upstate New York. A dairy industry discard too weak and sickly to even stand, the male Holstein lay helpless in an obscure alleyway, where few signs of life emanated from him—let alone any indication of the magnificent creature he was destined to become.

Saved at the last hour by Gene Baur, then a young activist, the downer calf was named Opie and brought to live at Farm Sanctuary, a seedling operation at the time, which sheltered far fewer animals and was run only by its founders and a handful of volunteers. Here, Opie, who when rescued had a temperature too low to even register on a thermometer, was placed on an IV, given colostrums and bottle-fed ‘round the clock until he was well enough to integrate with the other cattle.

On the happy day he was introduced to his new herd mates, Opie was adopted within moments by the now 21-year-old Maya, also one of the first downer calves ever rescued by Farm Sanctuary. Under the cow’s watchful eye, Opie, like the organization—which kept building more barns, laying more fencing and making its name known throughout the nation—grew, and then grew some more.

Standing more than six feet tall and weighing about a ton and a half in his prime, Opie, who blossomed into the benevolent, paternal leader of our cattle herd, was an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Visitors, most of whom were at first rendered speechless by and, often, a little fearful of the massive steer, were reassured when they approached Opie and learned that he had a heart that matched his size. No one made an impression quite like Opie did.

Gentle, warm and receptive to any and all affection he was offered by admirers, Opie’s dramatic rescue story, seemingly miraculous recovery, radiant personality, and powerful presence helped build the very foundation for our visitor program and proved what a difference our animal ambassadors could make for others of their species. It is impossible to know exactly how many people this magnanimous animal turned vegan, but Opie, once forgotten by a cruel industry, was clearly adored throughout his life by thousands, who were changed for the better from having known him.

Off the farm, Opie’s compelling before and after rescue photos were presented at legislative sessions, distributed widely on Farm Sanctuary activist materials, and picked up by media throughout the nation, leading to such advances as the introduction of the Downed Animal Protection Act in the U.S. Congress in 1992. The face of our No Downers Campaign (http://www.nodowners.org/), Opie and his story continued to help us shed light on the critical need for legislation to prevent the marketing and slaughter of animals too weak and sick to walk on their own and advocate for measures to prevent their suffering long after his rescue.

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Farm Sanctuary: Eight Turkeys Chosen For Adopt-A-Turkey Project

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Farm Sanctuary – info [at] farmsanctuary.org
Date: Oct 17, 2007 3:38 PM
Subject: Eight Turkeys Chosen For Adopt-A-Turkey Project

BREAKING NEWS: Eight Turkeys Chosen For Adopt-A-Turkey Project

Photo via decade_resister

Watkins Glen, NY and Orland, CA — After weeks of speculation and nail-pecking drama, Farm Sanctuary today announced its 2007 roster of Adopt-A-Turkey Project participants.

Cicada, Luna, Feather, Juniper, Magnolia, Moth, Oak and Pearl will step into the spotlight as the illustrious group chosen to be the face of Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-A-Turkey Project.

Started in 1986, the Adopt-A-Turkey Project invites the public to sponsor a turkey for only $20. The funding provides food, bedding and tender loving care to Farm Sanctuary’s turkey flock.

“Farm Sanctuary stepped up its game this year with these Adopt-A-Turkey selections,” mooed Larry, Farm Sanctuary’s spokescow. “This group’s palpable charm is matched only by their quick wit and head-turning good looks.”

Each turkey will be available for a face-to-face meet-and-greet Nov. 17 at the annual Celebration FOR the Turkeys: http://www.adoptaturkey.org/turkey_celebration07.htm.

Flash photography encouraged.

Sponsor these turkeys today!
Visit: http://www.adoptaturkey.org/adopt.htm

To subscribe: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/signup.htm

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DawnWatch: NY Times piece on joy of living with chickens 5/17/07

Friday, May 18th, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: May 17, 2007 10:34 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: NY Times piece on joy of living with chickens 5/17/07

It is a great week in the media for species that generally need some public relations assistance. On Monday I was delighted to share Nicolas Dodman’s discussion, on NPR’s Fresh Air, of his pet rats. In today’s (Thursday May 17) New York Times, Christine Pittel, in an article headed, “All Cooped Up In a Manhattan Co-op” (pg F6) discusses the joys of raising hens.

We read that a friend named Tiziana gave Pittel and her daughter Isabella two baby chicks to raise. They soon learn about chickens:

“In no time at all, their fuzz was replaced by pinfeathers and Chirp, the more adventurous of the pair, was nonchalantly surveying the scene from the rim of the box.

“Who knew chickens could fly? (You can see how little time I’ve spent in barnyards.)”

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Friday Random Cuteness: Meet Your Meat

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Still busy with the house hunting, but not too busy to take notice of all the new calves that have magically appeared in our backyard in the past month or so. You see, folks, our current rental home sits on an 80-acre working farm. In fact, one of the many fenced livestock pastures butts up against the fenced-in area of our backyard. The closest pasture is usually where our landlords sequester the newly-birthed calves and their mothers, so we have the bittersweet pleasure of watching the young’uns romp around on shaky legs, test out their brand-new vocal cords with hearty moos!, and suckle on their mommas’ impossibly huge teats. Sweet because it’s like watching the live TV version of Cute Overload; bitter because the buhbies and parents alike all share in the same destiny – namely, the meat hooks. So sad, and so unnecessary.

Carnies, let me introduce you to your meat.

2007-03-14 - Momma & Baby Moo-Cows - 0044

2007-03-14 - Momma & Baby Moo-Cows - 0038

More “farm animal” pics here.

And, of course, them pesky carnivals (pesky because I just can’t seem to keep up, try as I might):

* Carnival of the Green 68

* Carnival of Hurricane Relief 79

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