Your votes are in, goats won on this week’s #ThrowbackThursday (#tbt)! As we get ready for colder weather, let’s reminisce to last year when Noah & Cornelius were finally getting too big for their winter coats!
How did you develop your interest in vegan lifestyle?
I have always loved animals. When I was seventeen, I was on a family vacation and we went on a tour of a local village. I quickly became enamored with the baby chicks who lived there. I chased them with my camera lens as they ran around enjoying life; following their mother. This was the first time I had ever directly interacted with animals that would later be turned in to food, and I was horrified as I considered the fate that lay ahead for them. I made the decision that no animal, like the nameless baby chicks that I had quickly befriended, would ever be killed again just so I could enjoy the taste.
More recently, I overcame the obstacle of a vegan lifestyle seeming “too difficult” and committed to fully living in tune with my values when it comes to the treatment of animals. My only regret is that I did not start sooner.
Is there a particular animal on the farm that you connect with?
This is a tough question because there are so many animals here that I love, but I have probably connected most with a sheep named Aiden. He loves people and when I come to visit him he runs right up to me and waits for me to scratch his head. I know he remembers me and he reminds me a little bit of my dog, Teddy.
Besides animals, what else are you passionate about?
I’m very passionate about women’s rights and equality issues. On a lighter note, I love reading and writing fiction, and I have an embarrassing obsession with Doctor Who.
What advice would you give people interested in transitioning to a vegan diet?
Don’t be scared of it because it is more than worth making the change. Most people would not morally approve of the standard practices that go on in the animal agriculture industries and there is no reason to participate if you don’t agree with hurting animals. For me, transitioning was only difficult for the first month, and since then it has been easy. I would definitely advise doing some research on vegan nutrition. If you are like me and don’t already have any vegan friends or family when you start your transition, the online vegan community and bloggers are a fantastic resource.
Have you learned anything in your internship at Animal Place that you can apply to a future career or your home life?
I have definitely learned a lot that will help me with my animal advocacy in the future whether it is on a personal or professional level. More important than the facts I have learned about the horrors of animal agriculture –yes, it’s even worse than I thought— I will take with me an archive of personal experiences from which I can draw. Probably the best example of this is my first encounter with the chickens at Animal Place. For my whole life, I have heard people casually remark, “chickens are stupid” compared to other animals, so eventually I just assumed that was the truth. However, when I first interacted with the chickens here, their awareness and personalities were instantly apparent. One hen angrily squawked at the chicken occupying her favorite nesting box even though there were others available. As humans, we have these preferences too, in the form of a favorite seat at the dinner table or a side of the bed. Within minutes I could tell that the hens were not automatons as we pretend, but individuals like us.
What has been your most memorable experience in the Animal Place internship program?
My second day of work was assisting in sending off the 1,150 hens flown to New York. I feel very fortunate to have been involved in such a huge rescue; the first of it’s kind. There was so much media coverage, and support flooding the Internet that I just felt very proud to have been a part of something so important. Plus, I’m a city girl and it was the first time I have ever caught chickens, so that was a unique and hilarious experience.
Do you have any advice to anyone interested in applying to the Animal Place internship program?
I would definitely not hesitate to apply. It is wonderful getting to know the animals and being immersed in a vegan community. I love knowing that I can sample all the food at a potluck with a clear conscious, and that everyone here understands my passion for animal rights. Learning from everyone during my short time at Animal Place has been invaluable. I have made new, lasting friendships and I feel more inspired than ever to advocate for animals.
For World Farmed Animals Day, why not sponsor one of our animal ambassadors, like Ella? Your gift feeds and cares for the 300 rescued farmed animals.
Ella escaped from a goat dairy farm and ran loose for weeks before we caught her. She quickly integrated into the herd and loves resting on boulders.
To sponsor Ella: http://animalplace.org/foster.html
Ellen was most likely from a dairy farm that sold her to a live-market auction when she became emaciated. The feedlot she ended up at sells live animals who are slaughtered onsite. Unable to walk and too thin for slaughter, Ellen faced a bullet to the head…if not for an animal control officer who saved her life. Ellen was pregnant when she arrived and gave birth to two healthy baby boys, Noah & Cornelius. She passed away recently.
In the few months that I got to spend with Ellen before she died, she taught me a lot about boundaries. She suffered immensely as a dairy goat before coming to the sanctuary and was understandably skittish around people. Every time I would feed her in the morning, she would walk to the opposite side of her stall and not come near her food until I left. Whenever I would visit the other goats in their pasture, she would get up and walk away if I got too close to her. As time went on though, she got less scared when I opened the barn doors in the morning. Eventually I was able to actually sit down with her and scratch her neck and face. She taught me to really listen to her body language and know when she was uncomfortable with something. Looking back now I realize that all of this was possible because of one of Ellen’s best human friends, Adrienne. Through her, Ellen became less afraid of humans, and gave me the chance to get to know her personally.
Ellen started getting sick about a month after I arrived at Animal Place. She had a condition called Johne’s disease. Johne’s affects every goat differently and in Ellen’s case made it almost impossible for her to eat. The caregiving team tried everything to help her get healthier but nothing worked. Knowing Ellen was in extreme pain, the decision was made for her to be euthanized. A selfish part of me didn’t want this to happen because I wanted more time with her. But I knew that if I was thinking strictly for Ellen’s well being, euthanasia was the best choice. I vowed then that I would be there with her as it happened.
When I think about how her life almost ended- scared, high strung, and miserable in a slaughterhouse- I am grateful that I was there with her. We sat in the shade underneath a tree, her head on my lap, her whole body relaxed from sedation. I apologized for everything humans did to her- stripping her of her autonomy, taking her children away from her year after year, and viewing her as nothing more than a commodity to be used. I told her how strong she was and how much she inspired me. When the vet came to give her the final injection, I looked down at Ellen and told her I loved her. I gave her one final scratch on her face and kept myself composed as Ellen left this world. Her death was peaceful. She is now out of pain.
Ellen was one of the strongest and most resilient beings I have ever known. She loved blackberry leaves and having the sides of her face scratched. I already miss seeing her amongst the rocks in the goat pasture, quietly observing everything that is going on around her. I am grateful she was able to experience giving birth to two beautiful boys without having them taken away from her, that she was able to make some goat and human friends, and lived the rest of her life in a safe place where she was looked at as an individual whose life mattered.
Ellen did not deserve the hand that was dealt to her, no sentient being does. The transient pleasure of consuming animal products is not worth the suffering and loss it causes. Go vegan.
-Alicia Furlow, Intern & Caregiver
Fridays from the Field is from caregiver Jan! ” Noah & Cornelius never fail to brighten my day. When they see me walking down the road.. they bleat and bellow, and come racing towards me with energy and excitement. I don’t know of any humans that can give me that kind of welcome. Goats rule.” - Jan Galeazzi