Saturday, October 4, 2014


On Thursday, Jack and I drove from Philadelphia to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY, to visit our adopted steer, Lawrence.  We hadn't seen Lawrence since shortly after he was rescued as a calf in 2011.  You can read about his rescue here.  We were amazed and impressed by how much he's grown!  Our little calf is a big guy now!

Jack is 6' tall and I'm 5'5", so you can see how tall he is!  His caregiver estimated that he weighs about 2500 pounds!  Lawrence is sweet, and he was curious about us.  He enjoyed the head rubs and neck rubs we gave him.  We were covered in steer saliva when he was done inspecting us!

We're so blessed to be able to help support this wonderful guy and to be able to pet him and show him how wonderful he is. 

Lawrence has many steer and cow friends at Farm Sanctuary.  One of them decided to re-arrange my hair with a gentle snuffling and a bit of steer spit!

Steers and cows are not hamburger, steak, rump roast, or lactation factories  -  they're animals, like we are.

 A young turkey was also in the mood for hairdressing and did her best to give me a new style.  (By the way, all the animals have names, I just wasn't introduced to all of them.)  There are older turkeys, at least one of whom had the end of her beak and her toes cut off, a normal factory farming practice, causing her great pain and diminishing the quality of her life.  Thank goodness she's found a home at Farm Sanctuary, where she can be lovingly cared for.  The turkeys enjoyed being hand fed grass we pulled for them.  I think one would have curled up in my lap like a cat.  Another young one dozed off in the sun.

Turkeys are not Thanksgiving dinner or tetrazzini or snacks at a Medieval fair.  They are animals, just  like we are.

We hand fed chickens, and some pigeons did their best to pretend they were chickens!

Chickens are not fried dinners or soup or nugget snacks or cutlets.  They're animals, like we are.

There were sheep and goats, but most of those were far out in the fields.  Jack made friends with one goat who enjoyed having his neck and head rubbed.

Goats are not pulled goat sandwiches or stews.  Sheep are not lamb chops (from babies only a few weeks old) or stews.  They're animals like us.

When we were there in 2011, they had just rescued a piglet they named Eric.  Read about his rescue here.  Eric was the most joyful little guy when we met him, despite what he'd been through.  If you've  ever wondered if animals feel delight, happiness, pure unadulterated glee, you only had to see Eric.  He's a big boy now.  I forgot to take a photo of him, but here are some of his friends.  Pigs sleep most of the day.  They bury themselves in straw for a long comfy snooze.  In the winter they even bury their friends in the straw to keep them warm, like you and I might tuck in a loved one.  A pig is a good friend.  They love to have their bellies rubbed.  Even though their skin and hair feels coarse, they're very sensitive.

Pigs are not bacon, pork chops, ham, baby back ribs (again, babies only a few weeks old), roast suckling pig (oh, my God!), or loin roasts.  They're animals, like we are.

The weather was gorgeous.  Farm Sanctuary's New York sanctuary is in the Finger Lakes region, a beautiful area of lakes and vineyards and hills and rolling fields.  The fall foliage was orange and rust and yellow and red, and there were New England asters and other wildflowers blooming by the road.

It was a wonderful trip, renewing and reaffirming.  I went to bed smiling and I smile every time I think of all the rescued animals we met who touched us and gladdened our souls.  But my heart aches for the hundreds of millions of animals, just like these sweet animals, who are abused, tortured, and slaughtered in this country every year.  Every year.  

We are all animals.


  1. Lovely photos. I'm so glad that you had such an enjoyable day at the farm Joan as I know you aren't fond of the long journey there. Eric snuggled up with his toy pig is so cute, he certainly got lucky to be taken to the farm. It looks like the foliage and flowers around that area are at the same stage as here in Scotland, all oranges, reds and Michaelmas daisies.

    1. Jack is so used to being in the car, so it wasn't a big deal for him. I drove the whole way up and he drove back.

      There are few things cuter than a piglet, as A.A. Milne knew, and Eric was an especially gleeful piglet. He's calmed down now that he's older, but he's still a happy pig.

      The foliage was the best part of the drive. I'm not sure it's at the peak yet. There's still a lot of green in the trees.

  2. What a marvelous day! How wonderful you got to go and see Lawrence and meet some of the other animals. What is it they like so much about rearranging a person's hair? It is good that places like Farm Sanctuary exist but it breaks my heart that they have to and that there are so many animals that needlessly suffer.

    1. It was a wonderful day for lots of reasons. The staff at Farm Sanctuary are dedicated and kind. I'm always impressed.

      I mentioned to Jack on the drive up that it was ironic that we were going to visit our one adopted steer while we were being passed by cattle trailers on their way to or from slaughterhouses. A very sad thought. One out of hundreds of millions.

      We'll never have peace in our lives or our souls until we learn to live peacefully in all aspects of our lives.

  3. What great photos...thank you for posting them. When I first figured out the vegan thingee I read lots about farm sanctuary and wanted so much to visit. Your pics help bring it to life and Lawrence isn't a big guy...he's a huge (and handsome) guy. Wow! He is a major being! Thank you both for helping him.

    1. I'm glad you liked the photos and could pick up the feelings of awe (on our part) and friendly curiosity (on the part of the animals). Farm Sanctuary is an amazing place that we've supported for many, many years. We've been able to visit the NY shelter about five times over the last twenty or so years. FS has some rescued rabbits, too. I'd love to visit the rabbit sanctuary you volunteer at!

    2. Believe it or not, the bunnies pick up on who's vegan and who isn't and respond somewhat differently (vegans smell different...better, I like to think :-)). A stranger is a stranger of course but they tend to be more relaxed around vegan strangers. They would love to meet you. :-)

    3. I've always wondered about that. Animals seem to feel comfortable with me, especially since I became a vegetarian about twenty years ago (vegan for the last ten). My best friend is a former large animal vet. When I sent her the photos of our last visit to Farm Sanctuary, she said she thought it was wonderful when animals weren't afraid of people. They behave differently. Many of the animals at FS were rescued from horrible situations. It's amazing that any of them ever come to trust us, but most do.

      I wish I could visit your bunny rescue. If we ever get to your part of the country, I'll make sure I try. I've always loved rabbits and used to collect the inanimate kinds: pictures, statuettes, things with bunnies on them. The real thing must be so much nicer.