One day in the early December last year I woke up feeling an urge. An urge to connect with animals. It was such a powerful strong calling. Like my soul was screaming. My heart was aching. I've been wanting to connect with farm animals for a little while, since late summer, when my friend told me about a place in Upstate, NY where you can go see and pet farm animals. This time I took a look at their website... basically those farm animals that you just petted will be later on your dinner place. It is a wonderful feeling to pet a farm animal, don't get me wrong. But a thought of looking into their eyes and knowing that they are going to get slaughtered later made my stomach turn. I knew I could not support such a place.
I did more research. To my very excitement I found out that there are many places across the US where farm animals are truly loved (not like "I love you, you are cute, I'm going to kill you and eat you" but really loved. The way you love your dog or your cat), let roam around, do their thing and live their lives till the natural end. Wow! These places are called farm animal sanctuaries... How did I not know about them before? Is not it obvious that such farms exist? That is how I found Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS). I've learned that this 110-acres haven was founded by Kathy Stevens and Jesse Moore in 2001, and since then saved 3500 lives!! Amazing. Here is their website: https://casanctuary.org.
Few days later my partner and I were north bound. To the Saugerties! We took a bus to New Paltz and then cabbed it to the sanctuary. We signed up for a walking tour at CAS.
When we got to the grounds we were first introduced to the pigs. Oh my god! Those guys are enormous... 600-700 pounds on average. And the amount of noise they make was something I actually never expected or experienced before. I sat there and stared into one pig's eyes and started crying. It was like looking into eyes of a very very smart dog only 1000 times smarter. What a depth... I rubbed their ears and their backs and they really liked that. They are like big puppies... they like belly rubs. And they will like you if you give them belly rubs :)
Then we met the cows. One of them was Jessie. He is such a sweetheart. So big, with these huge thoughtful eyes. He loved all the attention and rubs. He is so sweet and social.
He is a lucky guy I have to say... Billions of other farm animals like him are not as lucky...These creatures are branded and castrated, have their horns removed without painkillers. Majority of milk cows suffer from mastitis, a painful bacterial infection causing a cow’s udder to swell. They have their babies taken away at the very first day. Poor milk cows are constantly artificially inseminated... their gestation period lasts nine months. At the end of that period they get pregnant again. And so it goes... And I don't even talk about their poor diets, overload of antibiotics and other stuff. Eating dairy products is nothing better than eating beef.
Our journey continued and we met the goats. They were super friendly and very social. I was fascinated by the shape of their pupils. Never seen that before! It's a perfect rectangle. :) And they are really good at jumping and climbing trees. Wow!
The only guy we had to watch out for was Bartleby. He was looking for a trouble with his mini horns.
There were horses. They are very sweet. One of them was blind - his name is Buddy. He had some kind of infection that made it extremely painful for him. Generally horses would be put down to avoid the suffering. In Buddy's case, instead, his eyes were removed and now he is pain-free. Long life ahead! Another horse was watching out for him and guiding him... like a big brother or sister. So sweet.
Another animal that fascinated me was Tucker. He is a steer. His weight is about 3000 pounds. Can you imagine a domestic creature this big? I certainly could not until I saw Tucker with my own eyes. He was saved from slaughter after living for some time at a petting zoo... I'm so happy he found his forever home at CAS.
See his first day at the sanctuary at CAS youtube channel:
Other residents of the sanctuary are turkeys, chickens and roosters, ducks, kitty cats and sheep. All fascinating in their own way. And more importantly they can live without suffering, they are taken care of with love, brushed, rubbed, played with and hugged many times, every day. This is special.
I was sad to see chickens on crooked legs... poor creatures are bred this way so that their breasts get huge to get slaughtered at the age of 6 weeks! Naturally these guys live on average for 10 years!!!
What makes this animal haven so special is the wonderful people that work there. I have not had a chance to meet the founders yet but I will one day! Christian, a man who guided the tour, is such a great guy! He genially cares so much for the animals. And so are everyone else who works/volunteers at the CAS. Because of such bighearted people the change is coming. Vegan is no longer a "weirdo" stamp. It is a proud description of a lifestyle. A fully compassionate one.
We all are compassionate creatures, but somehow we are misguided and led to forget our true nature... We just need to listen to our hearts little more carefully. Let love prevail. Go visit a sanctuary. There are so many. Support their efforts. It will change your life.