These photos are from my recent visit to Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary with my girlfriend Monica. It was her first time visiting the farm, and she was in vegan paradise! We picked a good weekend to go, as there were some new rescues who are both extremely lovable and ridiculously photogenic.
The star of the weekend was definitely the new baby goat named Anne. She was only 5 days old and just starting to run around and attempt little goat jumps. Once she tired herself out she would just sit in your arms and be loved. When it was feeding time she would down a soda bottle full of goat milk in about 20 seconds. She also liked to suck on people's fingers. Anne was born on a goat farm where her mother got an udder infection and refused to feed her. A compassionate person working at the farm brought her to Woodstock. She still had a little umbilical cord dried up on the outside of her belly, and everyone was enthralled by her cuteness.
I was also happy to get to photograph the Valentines Piglets, named so because they arrived on Valentines weekend. They were three months old when we were there, double the age they were when they arrived, but still piglets none the less!
A man in western New York purchased 4 young pigs from an Amish farmer to raise for slaughter. He kept the pigs in a small, unheated garage, and one morning discovered that one of the pigs had given birth during the night. Twelve tiny piglets lay next to their mother, wet and covered with excrement. Eight were already dead and four others lay shivering and barely alive.
The Rehabilitator, Shanon Rumbugh, received the call on New Year's Eve and she rushed the piglets home. She tirelessly nursed them back to health—but it wasn’t an easy road. Once they were stable, the original owners had the gall to ask for them back to raise for slaughter along with the others.
Right before we left there was another group of babies arriving, chicks from a school hatching project. I didn't get to photograph them much, but they sure were cute and fuzzy!
As happens frequently around Easter, we received a call from a school teacher looking for a home for 5 just-hatched chicks -- the living, breathing result of a classroom project. These fuzzballs quickly grow into larger hens and roosters who have a lot of space, temperature and care requirements, and can live for over a decade.
As soon as the novelty is over, assuming the chicks or ducklings can survive the unnurturing classroom environment, the teacher or parent has to find a "home" -- more often than not the end of the road for those animals. The takeaway for the kids is less about biology and more about the disposability of life. If you're a parent or student who hears of an upcoming hatching project, please encourage that teacher to consider more humane alternatives to hatching.
I also took some photos of founders Jenny Brown and Doug Abelwith animals and the farm in the background. They are two of my favorite people so that part was fun. Of course lots of photos of Monica, and she took some of me. In-between we worked on the farm and ate lots of amazing vegan food, had profound conversations, and were constantly reminded why we choose the vegan path and how blessed we are to be on it.
Check out www.WoodstockSanctuary.org to learn about ways you can help out and to see more of my fabulous photographs!