Jamie Alexandre's Farm Sanctuary Internship Journal

 

September 1, 1999.

The bus arrived in Corning just past noon, which meant that after more than twenty hours of riding on buses, I had finally arrived. The air was smoggy, as a result of nearby forest fires, but everybody seemed quite casual. Lori Ehuden, Farm Sanctuary’s Education Coordinator, picked me up a few minutes later and took me to pick up this week’s groceries. After that she needed to do a few other errands. At one of the places we stopped, she pointed out some guys wearing camouflage pants standing around outside a building. At first glance they appeared to me to be soldiers, but she explained that the dove hunt had recently started and the clothes they were wearing were their hunting outfits. Nonetheless, we concluded that my original observation was not altogether false in that both they and soldiers engage in socially accepted forms of killing.

A hunter hiding behind a spindly branch.

A part of the dove hunt takes place in a field directly neighbouring Farm Sanctuary - and does not go unnoticed. After we arrived at the site I could hear the gunshots ringing out frequently. Another brave man kills a peaceful nesting dove, reducing another glorious being to a bloody lump. Later, when Lori was giving me a tour of the farm, we drove along the road in between Farm Sanctuary and the hunting grounds. Gunshot after gunshot - what are they trying to prove? We sang them a few songs on the way back along the road - can that be considered harassment or disturbing the hunt? One of them came over to chat. “I saw you driving back and forth along here, do you guys have much problem with people coming across the fence. I was just curious, that’s all.” As he walked away, Lori pointed to the sagging pockets in his vest and said: “See those pockets? They’re full of dead doves.” Then, as the sun set, the slaughter was no longer sanctioned, and the rifle-toting macho men packed up to leave.

A hunter standing on guard.

Lori showed me around the various barns and introduced me to the animals. We closed up the barns and opened the windows for ventilation. The pigs are massive! They must weigh tons! Watch out for Sparky the sheep - he has an infamous temper and incredible strength despite his peaceful and docile appearance.

After spending a while unpacking in the afternoon I met the other intern, Rachel. I went with her to feed the rabbits, and we talked casually about things around the farm, but we got into some very interesting discussions this evening, from Descartes to the ALF, and from objectivity to Buddhism. She was a philosophy major for the last four years in college or university, learning and thinking about many interesting things. I’m sure we’ll have a great time discussing stuff.

Rachel, the other intern, with Ruby and Monster.

The two dogs staying with us - Ruby and Monster - are wonderful friends and companions. They’re great to have around, and share the house quite equally with us.

Ruby on the windowsill, checking out the action outside.

 

September 2, 1999.

My dreams were interrupted at 6:30 this morning by an announcer on the radio talking about some movie starring Keanu Reaves. At 7:00 Rachel and I were out the door and ready to begin.

The dove hunters weren’t as active as yesterday. Only the occasional series of gunshots reminded us that they were still there. It brings to mind the reports I was reading from people in Yugoslavia last spring; “The bombs are still falling... Now they’ve eased up a little... Thank heaven for small mercies... Perhaps we can find some rest... BOOM! BOOM! Why can’t they leave us and our families in peace?”

Rachel, the other intern, and me, at work.

This morning was mostly spent ‘mucking’ barns (i.e. cleaning them out and spreading hay back onto the ground). I met Doug and Robert, the two hired hands, about whom I had already heard a few things. In the intern guest book (which the interns add to when they leave), Robert, wearing a T-shirt with the caption “Does not play well with others” below a picture of a mean-looking bull, is described as the “mean meat eater... Watch out!!!” However, when I met him, he didn’t seem very mean. Doug, whom I haven’t spent as much time with, seems really friendly and helpful. I heard some more about Sparkie, the sheep with an attitude, and got to meet him as well. I’d been told that it takes a while for him to get to know the interns when they first come - he’s broken an intern’s rib before by crushing the intern against the wall - but to start out with he seemed not to mind me, although later on I had to be wary because he seemed to want to knock me over or something. (In the end, all he ended up doing was crushing my pinky finger.) We raked and cleaned out the goat and sheep barn where Sparkie lives, then broke up the bales of hay and spread them around in the different stalls. I carefully spread the hay around on the ground as evenly as possible in the stall I was working on. Robert looked in over the fence and said “What in the hell are you doing? Look’t this guy in here! He’s spreading it out all smooth and flat - just like Martha Stuart would do it.” And since then my nickname has been Martha Stuart.

Sheila.

Later in the day, when I was cleaning the inside of the pig barn, I saw a group of people who seemed to be on a tour. I recognized two of them as Lorri and Gene Bauston, the founders of Farm Sanctuary, whom I was looking forward to meeting. I went out to say hello and they introduced me to the people they were showing around. “This is Jim Mason...” Me: “Hello, pleased to meet you, I have a copy of your book.” “And this is Jeffrey Masson, the author of When Elephants Weep.” “Hello, I have a copy of your book too!” I followed them inside where they were discussing stories they had heard about pigs. Someone had heard a farmer talking about how dangerous pigs were and that they actually eat humans, but the farmers only reason for believing that was that once when he had taken the newborn piglets away from a sow, she had run through a two-by-four “as if it were a toothpick.” They talked about how sociable and ‘intelligent’ pigs are, but someone expressed dislike at speaking of one animal as more intelligent than another. “It’s the same thing we do to each other... Just because one person thinks differently from another, we say that one is more intelligent than the other... I mean, a chicken isn’t less intelligent than a pig, it just thinks about different things. Take Einstein for example... The guy was a genius about some things, but they’ve discovered recently that he was a complete failure when it came to social relations. He wrote a letter to a twenty-year-old asking her to make a decision about whether it was she or her mother whom he was going to marry.” Pigs, on the other hand, although they don’t theorize about relativity or atoms, are highly developed socially. Jeffrey is now working on a book about the emotional lives of farm animals to complement his book on the emotional lives of non-farm animals. The Baustons are really nice, and I’m looking forward to talking with them more during this next month.

While they were still talking, I ran off to get my copies of their books so I could have the authors sign them. When I brought the books back, Jeffrey saw his and exclaimed “Oh! There it is. And look at this; he’s put sticky-tab markers in here. What’s he written beside them? ‘Fool!’ ‘What was this guy thinking?’ ‘What an idiot!’” Actually, I hadn’t written anything on the margins (luckily). “This here is the best book in the world,” Jeffrey affirmed. Then Jim took his book to sign, and Jeffrey quickly added: “And that’s the second-best book in the world.”

 

September 3, 1999.

I was awakened by Ruby and Monster at 6:00 this morning, barking and jumping on me in an apparent effort to get me to take them outside. I managed to ignore them until 6:25 (when they started chewing on my face), and I took them out into the light of the rising sun.

Ruby and Monster playing enthusiastically on the couch, having already knocked the cushions off.

Today was one of Rachel’s and Robert’s days off, so I was working with Doug and Karen most of the time. The mucking schedule was pretty much the same, meaning we cleaned every single barn. However, because it's Friday, we needed to do a more thorough job in some places. For instance, we took the roosting boxes out of the chicken barn and cleaned them completely, and we emptied and hosed out the duck and goose houses. The ride in the spreader when we were feeding the cows, goats and sheep wasn’t as violent as yesterday when Robert was driving it.

"James" and "Taylor" (those are my names for them - actually they're called Cassidy and Sundance).

After I finished work I took my dinner outside with me and wandered aimlessly. I ended up in front of the sheep and goat yard. Not knowing at first how aggressive the goats were, I began quite timidly to scratch their heads from across the fence. After not too long I was in with them giving them back scratches and kisses. I had an extensive conversation with Neptune, a large white goat with long, curved horns, about what parts of his back he’d like to have scratched. He showed me by pointing at specific points with his horns, all the time grinning away with his “goatee” wisping down from his chin.

Neptune pointing out the spot on his back where he wanted me to scratch.

September 4, 1999.

Today was a nice day. On the weekends, people come here to go on tours of the farm and to see the animals. Even though I just got here, I was allowed to show them around. That meant that instead of mucking (which is fun, however) I got to meet new people and spend time with the animals, which is a pretty good deal. I guess I’ll probably be giving tours tomorrow for some of the time if people come. As Lori says, it's a good opportunity for people to see that farm animals are “living-feeling beings” rather than just meat on their plates. One of Farm Sanctuaries slogans is “If you love animals called pets, why do you eat animals called dinner?” Hopefully the tours help people to resolve this conceptual hypocrisy within themselves.

Patrick (?).

This afternoon we helped Karen get Tyler into the head chute so that he could get an antibiotics shot to help his abscessed cheek. Cows are beautiful and very powerful. Trooper is a calf who was used for lasso practice by some cowboys somewhere until he grew too big for that and was neglected, and attacked on multiple occasions by dogs, which I think is why his tail is just a stub and a bit scabby. He just arrived recently and until yesterday he was being kept in isolation to make sure he wasn’t bringing any diseases with him. Now he’s up with some other animals by the goat and sheep barn. He is very gentle and mild.

Trooper, the calf who was beside the intern house when I arrived.

 

September 5, 1999.

Another fine day of tours! Because this is the Labor Day weekend, Farm Sanctuary has received more visitors than normal. The first group came at 11:00, so I “mucked” around a bit beforehand. I cleaned the goat barn by myself, which takes a couple of hours. For the last couple of days when we had been cleaning the goat barn, Doug had closed off the big sliding wooden door between the area we clean and the area where Sparky, the sheep with an attitude, sleeps, which meant I could rake without having to worry about being knocked over. When I went in today, however, and attempted to close the door, Sparky saw me and ran through the doorway before I’d been able to budge the door an inch. I started cleaning inside some of the other pens in the building so I could stay away from him as long as possible, but then I noticed that he had walked into the pen that connects the main area to the outside. There’s an open gate between the pen he was in and the main area where I still had to rake, and the temptation to save myself a lot of trouble was too tempting to resist, so I snuck over and closed the gate. Sparky glared at me. I went back to raking, but Sparky went up to the gate and looked through it at me, and the donkeys, who were in the main area, wanted to go outside through the pen Sparky was in. I couldn’t bear it anymore. I went over and opened the gate and went into the pen. Sparky, however, did not seem willing to make amends. He made a guttural growl and thrashed his head around at me. Somehow (I can’t remember exactly how -- very quickly in any case) I managed to maneuver my way around him and got out of the pen, just closing the gate in time to prevent him from coming through. I apologized to the donkeys for blocking their exit, and returned to my raking. Sparky eventually abandoned his post at the gate and wandered out into the yard, so I carefully climbed into the pen and closed the sliding wooden door to the outside. When Sparky was far enough away from the door and had lain down, I opened the gate and the wooden door and let the donkeys out. Phew! Then I returned to my raking.

Sparky, the sheep with an attitude.

We had many interesting visitors come to see the farm. One woman came with some friends to see Webster the rabbit whom a friend of hers had rescued from being eaten, which is why he had been named Stew before coming here (Sorry Mr. Timm -- no Wild Rabbit Pie today). She recalls how Stew used to chase her dog around the house, and, occasionally, vice-versa. I took the woman’s picture with Stew, a.k.a. Webster, for her to give to her friend.

The woman sponsoring Kevin came in as well, along with her motorcycle group, the “Blue Knights,” a group of leather-clad motor-biking police officers from Reno. They were passing through on their yearly trip so that she could visit “her Kevin.” I told one of the men that I, personally, was a “Red Knight,” and he asked me “Oh, you’re a fire fighter?” with a note of awe in his voice. When I said that I wasn’t, he wrinkled his brow and said “Darn, I guess I missed that one...” His wife explained to him “No, dear, it’s probably something from where he’s from.” Nope, I’m not usually a fire fighter - I’m more of a fire fueler.

The "black sheep" in the herd of Santa Cruz sheep.

This evening Rachel and I drove down to patrol the dove hunt. Lori was down there, so we pulled up beside her to talk. She was explaining to us how the hunters weren’t allowed to shoot doves on our property, and if a dove they shoot manages to fly onto our land, the hunters cannot come over to retrieve it. Not too far away from us one of the hunters was hiding from the doves behind a spindly little branch, presumably out of hearing range from us. However, he came up to us and said “What you said about me not being able to come onto your property isn’t true. The Fish and Game book says that if I’ve injured an animal, I have to make ‘every effort to retrieve it,’ even if its on your property.” Lori said “This is private property. If you come onto our property you’ll be trespassing and we’ll call the sheriff.” “I’d love to have the sheriff here,” he said, “then I can come get any injured birds off of your property.” “Look, if any injured birds fall on our property, then we’re going to take them and try to heal them, so just don’t come onto our property.” “All right,” he said as he walked away, “I just wanted to tell you that you’re wrong.” Lori later checked with Diane and confirmed that Fish and Game regulations cannot supersede the law, and the law says that it is illegal to trespass.

Lori, the education coordinator, on dove patrol.

 

September 6, 1999.

Today was my first day off. I slept in until nine o’clock - a luxury! In the afternoon I decided to take Ruby and Monster to explore and find the pond I’d been told about, up and over the hill above Farm Sanctuary. I brought some fruit and some books with me - but I neglected to bring any water for myself. So we set out on our adventure beneath the scorching sun. We had to go up the road through the cow pasture, but since the cows weren’t on the road, that wasn’t a problem. Through one gate, then another, and finally, after making a turn off to the right, through another gate and into the area with the pond in it, where I could at last remove the dogs leashes and let them roam. From the pond I could see down onto Farm Sanctuary’s buildings from up above. I sat on the shore of the pond and read while they chased each other through and around the pond, then we followed the perimeter of the fence around to see how far we could go. When we were ready to go we were all sufficiently hot and thirsty, even though the dogs had been drinking from the pond. We headed back towards the gate, but when we got near, we saw that the cows were all walking down along the road towards their barn along the road we needed to take. So, we needed to improvise, since I wasn’t going to risk taking the dogs amongst the cows, especially since I couldn’t yet distinguish the temperamental Brahma cows from the others. We found a spot where an animal had dug a whole under the fence into another area. I climbed under and Ruby followed me, but Monster, refusing to crawl under, ran off up the hill again. We chased him and eventually caught him, then took him back to the hole under the fence. With a little encouragement and assistance, he found his way under and we continued on. It turned out that we had found our way into the pig and duck area, and since I didn’t want to take the dogs past where the ducks were, we had to find our way over the fence. I managed to lift both Monster and Ruby over the fence, then climbed over it myself. We had finally made it back from our adventure - hot, thirsty and tired.

The pond above the farm.

I was looking in the cupboard for a pot to hold the hummus I had made, and noticed a large black spider hanging from a web. Having already heard that there are Black Widow spiders around here, I asked Karen what kind of spider it was, and she confirmed that it was a Black Widow (Latrodectus mactans), and took it outside in a pot. I’ve heard that Black Widows are ten times as poisonous as rattlesnakes (which there are around here too), so you have to be careful when putting on boots and the like.

We gave Ruby and Monster a piece of broccoli stem to play with like a bone. When they weren’t wrestling each other for the right to chew on it, Ruby would bite little bits off it and Monster would eat the bits. It looked like a fun game, so I joined in and grabbed the broccoli bone in my mouth and chased Ruby around with it. Have you ever chased a dog around with a big piece of broccoli clenched between your teeth?

Monster and Ruby making a mess with the broccoli.

 

September 7, 1999.

I was so tired early this morning that the radio alarm filtered into my dream but didn’t wake me up, probably because I indulged in a few extra hours of sleep yesterday morning on my day off.

A turkey!

This afternoon I helped Karen with the iso-chickens’ and iso-turkeys’ foot wraps. They have a foot disease called bumble-foot which causes their feet to swell up and become infected. Some people say it's caused by the way they’ve been bred, others say it’s a result of excess moisture or unnatural housing conditions. We started with the turkeys, whom we had to help onto their sides, so that I could hold them there and Karen could work on their feet. She cut the old wraps off their feet and re-wrapped them. With the chickens you actually pick them up and lay them on their backs on your lap. This has been said to ‘hypnotize’ them, but it basically seems to calm them down. The birds all seemed happy when we were finally finished and we didn’t have to chase them around anymore.

Fabio, a proud rooster.

When I first arrived here Trooper was living in this building in the isolation pen, where recent arrivals spend a bit of time to make sure they don’t bring any diseases or parasites. A few days ago we moved him up into the smaller pen in the goat barn with Sheila and Little Gary (two young sheep) so that he can begin to socialize and become part of the crew. This afternoon, after doing the foot-wraps, I let Trooper and the two sheep out to mingle with the rest of the goats, sheep, and cows from their neighbouring pen. They seemed to get along fine. Trooper started learning who to push around and who not to push around.

I cooked a delicious dinner and shared it with Karen. One of the dishes I made tasted a lot like a dish we’ve had at the Buddhist Vegetarian Restaurant in Vancouver: sautéed mushrooms, green peppers and tofu in a sweet peanut sauce. It turned out really well considering it wasn’t planned at all and it was made completely from scratch.

 

September 8, 1999.

Rachel was doing healthcare on the animals today with Diane and Karen, and it was one of Doug’s days off, so I was mucking with Robert. Nothing really eventful happened in the morning. We finished around 11:00 so I was given the task of cleaning out the pig feeders. I had to dump all the food still in them into buckets and then carry the troughs down the hill and put them over the fence. They weigh a ton, but I managed to get them all down there.

In the afternoon I gave an unexpected tour to some people from the Chico Cat Coalition, who take cats from Bidwell park in Chico, where they are becoming a nuisance, and find homes for them. Then Rachel and I finished cleaning the pig feeders, and carried them back up the hill with our last ounces of strength.

In the evening we were completely exhausted, and fell asleep around eight o’clock, although I got up later for a little while. Big Lorri came to the door to get some eggs (the eggs the chickens lay are fed to the dogs and the pigs) and woke us both up. “What, are you asleep already?” she asked us incredulously. Days are long and nights are short; yes, we were asleep.

The intern house, connected with the animal "hospital" areas at either end.

September 9, 1999.

Today was a day off. In the afternoon I explored the area across the road from here. I waded out to an island in the small lake just past the road, then wandered along the island and waded off the other side onto the shore. I followed a trail from there up the hill - all the time keeping an eye out for spiders and snakes - and it lead me up to the top of a ridge that turned out to be the edge of a dam, holding a huge lake that stretched out beyond where I could see. After a peaceful and beautiful walk along the edge of the dam, I headed back towards Farm Sanctuary.

The pig pond in front, with the main shelter area in behind.

 

September 10, 1999.

There is a poster on the wall beside the kitchen table which reads:

“No Animal Flesh is Eaten Here. / In this home, animals are not considered as meat, but as other living beings. Their rights are to be respected by those who bide here. / Meat is obtained, in every instance, by violent means. If a product of violence is consumed, it may also be projected, and that is not in keeping with the spirit of our home. The attitude of peace must extend to all, with no exception and no compromise. Therefore, for those who truly aspire to a non-violent existence, as we do here, vegetarianism can be the only acceptable diet.”

An inquisitive turkey.

I asked Doug a few questions that had been running through my mind about cows. When telling people that I don’t drink milk because I do not want to support the exploitation of animals, I often hear “But cows need to be milked. Their udders would explode if you didn’t.” The way I would typically respond to this is that in order for the cow to produce milk at all she needs to have a calf, so a “dairy cow” is artificially inseminated every year. When the calf is born it is almost immediately taken away from her (and typically destined to become veal) so that the calf doesn’t drink its mother’s milk which can then be sold to humans. Thus it is clear enough that we are not typically doing the cow any sort of favor by milking her, but a few questions still troubled my mind. Since “dairy” cows have been bred for hundreds of years to produce a maximum amount of milk, I have often wondered whether even if the calf were not kidnapped from her affectionate mother, the mother might still produce too much milk for the calf to consume. Doug said that a dairy cow will produce too much milk for a single calf, but if she will allow two or three calves from the herd to feed from her, there would be no problem of excess milk. With “beef” cattle, it's not an issue at all. I also asked Doug whether a herd of cattle could survive in the wild without human protection or intervention and he said they can and in many places actually do. Predation is not a big threat to cows living in herds except for weak or sick members of the group, or if the predators be humans armed with guns.

Sweetie, the newly arrived piglet, in her swimming pool.

The piglet arrived this evening from near Los Angeles. She was born in a pre-vet school but was neglected by both her mother and the staff at the school, so a student took custody of her, and after having the piglet at home for a while (where she lived with a dog), she came up here to Farm Sanctuary. Her name is Sweetie, and she brought her security pillow along with her, which she sleeps on at night and during the day. I’ve discovered that she loves grapes, grunting eagerly for more no matter how many she’s already had.

Sweetie on her bean bag chair, which came with her from LA.

 

September 11, 1999.

This evening we had an “education night” where Lori cooked us dinner (nachos!) and Gene Bauston, the cofounder of Farm Sanctuary, came to talk to us about investigative campaigns, although, of course, we digressed (or even trigressed) and talked about many other things.

I asked him what the most hostile reaction he had experienced was towards what he does and what he believes. He said that for the most part he’s not met with hostility, simply “total unfamiliarity;” the cattlemen and stockyard owners he talks with simply cannot understand how someone can have a genuine concern for the well-being of an animal. Gene said that in the surroundings of Farm Sanctuary’s shelter near New York, their ideals and beliefs were viewed as an “alien philosophy,” perhaps akin to Buddhism, invading a Christian farming society.

The most physically hostile reaction Gene said he had received was one time when he was investigating a stockyard and found a sick ‘downed’ calf lying in a stall. He searched and asked around for the ‘owner’ of the calf, and eventually found him eating lunch in a nearby restaurant. Gene told the man that he needed to call a vet or do something for the calf so that it wouldn’t be left there for an indefinite period of time to suffer. The man said he’d “be out in a few minutes,” but shortly thereafter when Gene went back to the stall where the calf had been, it was gone. He saw the owner walking back from a truck, where he had most likely thrown the calf to get Gene off his back, so Gene walked towards him and asked what he had done with the calf. The man, who appeared to feel threatened, picked up Gene by his shirt and said “I’m throwing you in the goddamn mud” and kept repeating it. Gene kept saying “all I care about is that calf” to try to make it clear to the man that he had nothing against him personally, but instead his concerns were with the suffering animal. Eventually he put Gene down and said something like “Let me go!’ or ‘Leave me alone!” as if it had been Gene who had been threatening him, and the calf-owner perceived himself as the victim.

We talked with Gene about the beginnings of Farm Sanctuary as well. He said that to start out with they were much more radical, but have evolved into a more reasonable and strategic organization over time. The difference between “animal rights” advocacy and “animal welfare” advocacy is that animal rights calls for an end to the unnecessary exploitation of animals for human ends, whereas animal welfare asks for humane reforms in the way animals are exploited. By those definitions, Farm Sanctuary is now both an animal rights and an animal welfare organization: they push for legislation, and campaign for reforms in farm animal cruelty laws, but also promote and encourage a vegan lifestyle so that hopefully, in the long run, farm animal abuse will not need to be an issue. I asked Gene what he thought of the criticism strict animal rights advocates level against animal welfare reformers, which is that if we reform the animal agriculture industry such that it no longer contains some of the more blatantly obvious examples of animal cruelty, then it will be much more difficult to end the overall exploitation of animals because it would not be as offensive. Gene believes that welfare reforms help to show that animals are not mere commodities, which promotes the final goal of eliminating the use of farm animals for food, so he’s not fazed by that argument.

When we asked him how he is able to remain positive and keep on going despite massive opposition and in the face of such suffering, he said the only way was to focus on what can be done, instead of what cannot.

Across the street from Farm Sanctuary’s New York shelter lives a man who until recently was operating a fox farming operation on his property where he raised and killed foxes to produce and sell their fur. In discussions with Farm Sanctuary, he admitted to them that he really didn’t like having to do what he did, and asked them what sort of vegetables they liked. Soon thereafter he closed down his fox farming business and opened up a vegetable stand containing all the vegetables he had heard were in demand. Yes, there is hope. There is a change taking place.

The three gentle donkeys.

 

September 12, 1999.

For some strange reason, the goat and sheep barn took forever to muck today. Rachel and I started on it early while Robert ran around and mucked all the other barns in the main shelter. We raked the ground and built up piles of dirty straw and dung, then scraped all the urine spots, put the lime onto them, and finally spread the new hay throughout the barn. In the end, it had taken us two and a half hours just to do the one barn.

Hay feeds for the cows.

When we’d finished with the goat barn, we were standing outside and Robert noticed a swarm of ‘turkey buzzards’ flying above a spot out in the Santa Cruz field. “Something’s died,” he said. He went over to check, and sure enough, one of the Santa Cruz sheep had been killed by predators. When we were going by there on hay feeds later, I went up to see it. Its body was mostly still intact, but it’s belly was torn open, and it was biting its tongue. Its eyes were vacant beneath its spiraling horns. It didn’t look very peaceful.

Rachel and I had an interesting discussion with Robert while we were mucking the cow barn, exploring the intricacies of why we believe that animals can feel pain, whereas plants, as far as we know, do not. I was saying that animals contain nerves which carry the impulse of pain, and Robert replied, “but plants contain all sorts of fibres and things which could do the same thing. How do we know they can’t feel anything?” We then pointed out that functionally, pain would serve no purpose for a plant. Because animals are animated, i.e. are capable of self-movement, pain serves the very necessary purpose of alerting the creature to a problem in its body or to something external which should be avoided. Therefore, for an animal, having the capability of free movement, the function of pain serves a purpose, whereas for a plant, which cannot run away from something damaging it, pain would serve no apparent purpose. In the end Robert conceded that mammals can feel pain, but still denied that chickens could because they ‘don’t have brains’ (which they do). Perhaps that’s how he justifies to himself all the chickens he has slaughtered in his lifetime.

A group of hens eating an egg.

Chickens eating an egg.

Because I often bring her the grapes she loves, Sweetie comes running and skipping to see me whenever I walk past where she’s lying on her bean bag chair, and grunts expectantly for grapes.

Yawn!!

For dinner I made my delicious creation again, the mushrooms and green peppers in the sweet peanut sauce. Karen made stuffed peppers, and we traded some of our food. Being vegan sure can be delicious!

 

September 13, 1999.

I slept in today, as is becoming a habit on my days off. In the afternoon I walked around the farm and took some pictures of the animals. The dead sheep from yesterday is completely gone. Robert said that coyotes probably dragged it off. (Note - we actually saw it a week or so later, pulled further up the hill, with only its head and its ribcage remaining. Since the vultures seemed to have eaten all they were going to, it’s now been buried.)

One of the older Santa Cruz sheep, with beautiful horns.

September 14, 1999

Nick, a new employee at Farm Sanctuary, started work today. He’s a nice guy; jovial and enthusiastic. He found out about the job opening here from a newspaper. He worked alongside Doug to familiarize himself with the farm and what needs doing. Two people is enough for mucking, so I was given some other projects to work on for the day. The first, which actually ended up lasting me almost the whole day, was to gather large rocks from the fields and build a wall around the inside of the iso-duck pond to stop the erosion of the soil around it. I needed about forty rocks, each one between perhaps 10 and 20 pounds, and as it turned out, they were not easy to find. I scoured the hills, picking up the occasional rock and putting it into the wheelbarrow, but I soon realized I would be looking all day if I didn’t find an area with a higher density of large rocks. Eventually I found such an area - the only problem was that it was almost a ten minute walk from the duck pond, which is why it took me hours gathering enough rocks. Once I had them all there the fun began, packing sludge from the bottom of the pond onto the side, fitting in a rock, and then covering it with clay-like slime as well to ensure anchorage. I mucked around in there for the remainder of the morning and some of the afternoon, thoroughly splattering myself with mud.

Nick, my new co-worker, driving the tractor.

 

September 15, 1999

This weekend I’m going to be house-sitting for the Baustons at their house up on the hill, because they’re going away, so I went up there today so Lorri could show me what needed to be done while they were gone. They have seven kids, all of whom are staying here (four dogs, two cats - one of whom thinks she’s a dog, and one mouse).

Every Wednesday is health care day, and since Nick is still being trained, I got to help do health care with the cows. It’s quite a lengthy process; for each of the cows we needed to halter, brush, clean both ears and put fly oil along his or her back. I managed to halter and tie a cow the first time I tried, and for the first while I was brushing them, but later I got to clean some of their ears too. As Rachel said, I “became more and more confident as the morning progressed.” It was quite an escapade to get Melanie, one of the most aggressive of the Brahmas, into the head chute where we needed to do health care with her. Eventually, after much chasing, grain offering, gate opening and closing, and complicated strategies, we did succeed.

Neal, one of the Brahma bulls.

The calves from Arizona.

In Arizona, police found 6 two-day old calves hog-tied and jammed into a man’s trunk, covered in each other’s feces, suffocating, and dehydrated. Two of them didn’t survive, one was adopted out, and three of them were lucky enough to make it here to Farm Sanctuary. They arrived today while we were doing health care. When they were taken out of the truck they were all crying, which all the cows up the hill heard and ran down to see the new arrivals, mooing in sympathy from across the fence. About five television stations were here today to video the calves and hear their story.

Dinnertime for the Arizona calves.

This evening mom and dad arrived in the camper for a few-day visit. I took them around to see the animals, then I cooked my now traditional mushroom green pepper in peanut-sauce dish and we had dinner. I have tomorrow and Friday off, so I can spend time with my parents.

 

September 16, 1999

Mom and dad and I went into Chico today, raided Chico Natural Foods, and tried out a vegetarian restaurant, then went for a walk in Bidwell Park, the second biggest city park in the US.

This evening I moved my stuff up to the Baustons for the weekend. Their house is beautiful and their ‘kids’ are really neat. It’s interesting looking at their bookshelf, too.

Odee and Jake, two of the Bauston's "kids."

 

September 17, 1999

This morning we went for a long walk with the dogs over to the dam and down to the lake so they could have a swim.

My dad, with Odee, K.J., Jake and Susie, the Baustons' dog 'kids.'

We went back into Chico and browsed a cool used book store and I bought a few books, one a collection of Schweitzer quotes, another called “The Chomsky Reader,” and another on Japanese grammar. We took a tour of the Bidwell mansion, a historic building with some interesting stories.

This evening I got to help bottle-feed the calves, which was a really neat experience. When they’re not getting enough out of the bottle, they thrust their noses against it with a lot of force, as if to say “c’mon, mom, keep it coming!”

The Arizona calves hadn't been weaned yet, so they liked to suck on each other's ears.

 

September 18, 1999

I had to get up at five-thirty this morning to feed the dogs, cats and mouse, so that I would be ready to head down to the shelter to start mucking at 7:00. I couldn’t find a clock anywhere in the Bauston’s house, let alone one with an alarm, so I had to improvise and write my own alarm clock program on my computer to wake me up.

I had breakfast with mom and dad at 6:30, and after I left for work they took the Bauston’s dog-kids for a long walk, beyond the bluffs you can see from the top of the dam. There were no tours in the morning, so I was mucking with Rachel and Robert. At lunch time I met mom and dad outside the people barn and we ate lunch, then I showed them around in the education center. After lunch we received a rush of tours, starting with a woman who is sponsoring Sundance (one of the little goats). We spent most of the time in with the goats, and she explained to me the incident which inspired her to become vegetarian. She was traveling in Nepal, and made the choice to visit a Hindu temple where a baby goat was going to be ceremonially slaughtered. She thought she would be able to handle it, but it turned out to be too much for her. It affected her deeply, and got her thinking more earnestly about the relationship she wished to have with other animals, whom she had loved all her life, but nevertheless eaten. In the end she had come to the realization that she didn’t want to be killing animals for food, and became a dedicated vegetarian. Today she was here at Farm Sanctuary, happily feeding popcorn to the goats. As Kafka once said: “Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you anymore.”

Me with the goats. Sadie, the three-legged Holstein cow, is in the background.

The second tour was a couple who brought their infant to see farm animals for his first time. They got a cute picture of him standing across the fence from the three young calves. It’s wonderful that they are trying to familiarize him with farm animals when he’s so young, I only wonder what sort of experiences he will have with farm animals in the future.

In the evening I helped Karen give shots to the bunnies, who arrived today, and to the calves. The bunnies came from a case where a man was breeding but neglecting rabbits in his backyard. Many had died, and most of them were in bad shape. Six of them came here: three boys and three girls. They seem to be doing fine.

 

September 19, 1999

Gene and Lorri returned today, so I’ll be staying back down at the intern house again, but Gene is leaving in the morning and Lorri on Thursday, so I’ll be house-sitting again next weekend.

This evening Lori took us on a field trip to some abandoned battery cages near Farm Sanctuary. Let me give you a brief idea of the battery cage system in which most egg-laying hens in North America are housed. Each cage has on average about the floor space of a record album, around 12” x 18”, and contains four or five chickens. The average wingspan of a chicken is about 30”, which means that even just one chicken in such a cage would have no chance of stretching or flapping its wings, let alone when there are five crammed in together. Sometimes one of the chickens will get caught underneath its cagemates and suffocate, or simply abandon all will to live. Because they are packed tightly against one another, when one chicken moves, its cagemates need to move as well. When the chickens rub against the sides of the cage, as they need to do in order to get to the automatic feeding trough, their feathers are rubbed off and they receive cuts and bruises. The cages are typically stacked five or more layers high, filling huge warehouses so large that you can’t see from one end to the other. The bare wire floors of the cages (which severely deform and injure the chickens’ feet) allow the feces and urine from the chickens to fall down onto the floor where it is cleaned away. Robert used to work at such a facility, scooping up all the manure from the floor with a tractor. When he told me that the cages were stacked five or six levels high, I asked how the chickens and the cages on the lower layers would stay clean, and he said that once in a while an automatic pressure washing system would spray down from above and clean everything off. “Wouldn’t that kill the chickens?” I asked. “Not all of them, maybe 10 or 15 every time is normal,” he responded with a smile. The battery cage warehouse is essentially a factory system, almost completely automated, and treated like a unit of machinery with various components. After about a year, a batch of layers is considered “spent” and is sent to the slaughterhouse to become low-grade chicken for things like soups or shredded chicken. They are replaced by a new batch of layers who will live through the same hellish conditions as their predecessors until they too are “spent.” It is literally as if they are cogs in a machine, which wear out and need to be replaced. When a chicken lays an egg, without the space or materials it would naturally have to build a nest, the egg rolls out of the cage and down a track to where it is collected along with thousands of other eggs every day. A battery cage warehouse containing perhaps 100,000 chickens may be staffed by only one or two people, whose job it is to ensure that the machinery which distributes the feed and water, and collects the eggs, is all functioning properly. The same staff members collect the bodies of the dead or sick chickens from the cages, and throw them onto the ground where, if they have not already, they will die and be carried off along with the manure. It is a vast, efficient machine, powered by economics, in which the animals are the replaceable gears, and also the tragic victims.

The abandoned battery cages we visited were from a significantly smaller outfit, with the cages only one layer high. The buildings had practically fallen apart, and didn’t have any walls left. Occasionally, as I wandered along row after row of cages, I saw chicken skeletons almost completely bare lying in the cages, with their toes clasped tightly around the wire cage bottoms. I supposed they resisted being pulled out of the cages when the business was closing down, or maybe their feet had become so deformed that they had grown right around the bars. It’s a sad, sad world.

 

September 20, 1999

A fine day of mucking with Robert.

At work in the chicken barn.

September 21, 1999

Yet another day of mucking with Robert (he just loves to muck, really! He even made up a song about it.).

Robert, one of my coworkers.

 

September 22, 1999

Today I was mucking with Robert. Again.

Wednesdays are animal health care days, so I got to help for a little while. This week we were doing health care with the pigs. Diane and Karen were trimming the pigs’ hooves, and I helped Rachel clean their ears. Their ears, which are huge, are full of intricate curves and bumps, and you have to reach way into their ear canals to get the earwax out. Some of them don’t like it, but the one I did seemed to enjoy it and tolerated the fact that I took such a long time. Diane said to me “You must have the touch; he’s usually one of the grumpiest.”

The pigs eating breakfast.

Karen was running behind schedule this afternoon, so I gave her a hand carrying some of the feed bags and closing up for the night. One of the pig feed mixes is called “Meat Maker” by the manufacturer. Pigs, as we all know, are nothing more than efficient converters of raw materials into high quality flesh.

Cooling off on a hot day.

I went into the area where Artimus the duck lives along with her friends, to take their feed bowl, and I noticed Artimus lying with her wings outstretched at the side of the doorway of the little barn. She quacked pathetically up at me and flapped her wings a little bit. I thought she might be injured, so I leaned down to have a look. It turns out she had gotten her leg caught between two boards where it had become wedged, preventing her from being able to go anywhere. I didn’t want to try getting her leg out myself, so I ran and got Lorri Bauston who was nearby to come and help. Lorri tried getting her leg out, and was just telling me to go and find a saw to cut off a bit of the board when she managed to get Artimus free. Artimus immediately ran over to the water dispenser and had a drink. A successful rescue!

 

September 23, 1999

This morning I spent sleeping, until I was finally woken up for good by the tractor rumbling past the window around 11:30.

There were some volunteers here from Phoenix, Arizona, who knew about the cruelty case involving the calves, but didn’t know that three of the survivors had come here. I took them up to see the cows, and they took their pictures with them.

One of the Arizona calves sucking on my finger.

Me with the calves from Arizona.

 

We went on a field trip today to Chico State Agricultural Farm at Chico State University. We were going undercover, besides the fact that the bumper sticker on Lori’s car says “Vegetarians Taste Better.” When we first arrived we went into the milking room where cows were being milked by machines. The woman running the machines told us to ask her any questions we had. She said that the calves are taken away within 24-36 hours of being born. “The cow produces 8 times as much milk as the calf can drink, and therefore the calf is taken away from its mother and bottle-fed (?!).” We didn’t quite grasp her logic. If the cow produces so much milk, wouldn’t it be helpful to let the calf drink some of it? we asked. “Yes, they do get some of it bottle-fed to them for the first couple of days because that’s when it contains some antibodies which the calf needs.” How often are the cows impregnated? “They’re artificially impregnated (for a while she used the abbreviation ‘AI’ for ‘artificial insemination’ - part of the lingo) every year beginning when they’re two. They have a nine month gestation period, and stop producing milk around 2 weeks prior to giving birth again.” How much milk do they produce? “Around 70 pounds per day.” How long would it take if you had to hand milk them? “We never do, so I couldn’t say.” How long do they live? “Well, the oldest one we have is probably 12” (which means it’s had 10 babies... she told us the ages of the cows presently in the room - they were all between 2 & 4 years). “I could never do it,” she said. Do what? “Have a baby every year, year after year. It would be really difficult. They have such a strong maternal instinct.” What do you do with them when they stop producing milk? “We sell them usually, mostly for hamburger meat. McDonald’s and Wendy’s buy spent dairy cows for their hamburgers. The newborn calves we sell at the auction.” Do the cows or the calves seem distressed when they’re separated? “Most of them don’t seem to be bothered by it, but some of them do.” Outside the building we saw tiny, filthy fenced-in areas where the kidnapped calves were kept. They looked miserable. We went into some other buildings where we saw pigs in small filthy pens, and I saw a room full of farrowing crates where sows are completely confined and their piglets suckled, but the crates weren’t in use right now. As we drove away from that area of the university, I asked Lori if we could visit the slaughterhouse. She asked “Do you really want to?” and I said “Well... Yes.” I wanted to see brutality, because I already knew that it existed, but I had never seen it. And I’ve always known that if I ever visit a slaughterhouse, it would reaffirm and strengthen my convictions. So off we drove, following the signs for the “Meat Lab,” as the University calls it. Lori stayed in the car because she figured they would recognize her. Plastic curtains hung inside the front door, and there was a sign saying to wear helmets and coats when entering. Public Hours were listed as being 8 AM to 5 PM, and it was then 4:45 PM. Through the curtains we could see people slicing slabs off carcasses and one guy showing some students how to properly fold a cut of meat before packaging it. A man came to where we were and asked us what we wanted. Rachel asked if they gave tours, the man said “Tours? You want a tour?” Well, we’d like to have a look around. “Wouldn’t that be scary? What are you here for?” We’d just like to have a look around. “Well, I guess so, put on a helmet and a coat and you can come in...” And so we did. We didn’t spend long in the front area, but headed back through a massive doorway onto the killing floor. It wasn’t in use, and it looked relatively clean, but it was full of cruel looking devices. We opened one gigantic metal door which had a sign saying “USDA regulations require that anyone entering here must be wearing a coat and hat.” Inside were four or five slaughtered pigs hanging from metal hooks, their sides sliced open. On one we could see it’s severed neck where its head used to be attached, where blood used to flow between the heart and the mind, where the pig would have loved to have its ears scratched; but no longer, now it is cold “meat” for someone’s larder. On the side of the room on the floor were two drains which could be individually closed off. One had a label reading “Water.” The other had a label which said “Blood.”

The blood of the ages is washed away. Washed away and out of sight.

Monster cuddling with his teddy bear after a stressful day (this picture is not posed!).

 

September 24, 1999

For the most part it was just Nick and I mucking today. One of the volunteers helped us total the cow barn, which means totally raking it out and spreading a completely new layer of straw through the whole barn. We had a positive conversation with Nick about vegetarianism. He seemed quite open to the idea, especially when we told him about all the substitute products like Rice Dream, soy milk, and the whole range of vegetarian meats. He said something like “If you can show me those things, then maybe I’ll try being a vegetarian.” At one point, when we were discussing milk, Nick said that he thought the creator had sort of intended milk for humans as well as for cows, and I explained to him that we were not fundamentally against the use of milk as such, it was more the way the animals are treated who provide us with the milk. He also said something to the effect that he didn’t believe other animals had souls. I responded that even if they were not to have souls, a soul is not necessary for a being to be able to suffer. All in all, it was an interesting conversation, and it first gave me a glimpse of what an inquisitive and open-minded person Nick is.

We didn’t get over to the main shelter until after lunch, which meant we were running far behind. We didn’t finish mucking all the barns.

 

September 25, 1999

I awoke this morning with the full moon shining in on me through the Baustons’ window. It was so beautiful that I just sat there entranced for a few minutes gazing at it. As I walked down the hill to go to work, it slipped behind the mountains. It was such a wonderful experience that it inspired me to get up early before school on a regular basis once I arrived home. I’ll get up early, and watch the sun rise while riding on my trusty bicycle, Rocinante.

Nobody showed up for tours today, but it was a good day of mucking. I was talking with a volunteer named Diana about why I was here and told her about my project. She said I must go to a really good school if I can do something like this as part of a school project.

After lunch I took a Rice Dream bar and a bag of vegetarian “Jerquee” to Nick from the People Barn so he could try some vegan treats. He has an abscessed tooth, so the Rice Dream bar was too cold, but he really liked the “Jerquee.”

 

September 26, 1999

There were two groups of tours today. In the morning I spent a couple of hours showing around a group of four people who had flown up from LA just to visit Farm Sanctuary. I think they were all vegans, and they were really interesting. While I was with them, the wind, which was blowing quite strongly blew thick smoke up and over the hill above us to the north, which meant there could be a fire not far away, and when it’s windy it travels fast. One of the visitors was a fireman, so he said they could stick around until we found out whether we were at risk. Diane drove up the road a little way, but couldn’t see any evidence of a fire other than the smoke. The group in the afternoon, which was my last during my stay here, had seven people, my biggest group.

This evening we had an ed. session called “Critter Rescue Stories” with Diane. We asked her about where the ducks had come from, and so she told us their terrible pre-Farm Sanctuary lives. A mechanic who worked on trucks which picked up “offal” from slaughterhouses found live ducks and hatching eggs floating and drowning in the tanks of blood and assorted animal parts which were being sent to the rendering plant to be ground up and made into pet and livestock feed. He began secretly rescuing the ducks and trying to gather evidence, at the risk of losing his job, and he sent them to Farm Sanctuary. He wasn’t able to save them all, however. Sometimes, as they were pouring the offal into the grinders at the rendering plant, he would see a duck float by but couldn’t rescue it and had to watch it float by and be ground up alive. A while back, Diane said, one of the pigs at Farm Sanctuary stopped walking around, and after five or six weeks stopped drinking and eating as well, which Diane said is the pig’s way of saying it doesn’t want to live anymore. Eventually the decision was made to have the vet come and euthanize her, but just as the vet’s van pulled up into the shelter, she suddenly stood up and then began eating and drinking, and she wasn’t euthanized after all. Somehow, after over a month of not moving, it knew what was happening and knew what it needed to do. One of the most heart-wrenching stories about the animals who live here is about Neptune, the beautiful white goat with the gloriously long horns. He used to ‘belong’ to a cruel owner who left him outside in a small pen with no shade, along with Neptune’s girlfriend/wife. One of his neighbors tried to have something done about it, and called various agencies, but only succeeded in getting the man mad at him. One day the neighbor discovered that the man had moved away, and found Neptune and his girlfriend chained side by side to the fence in the man’s backyard. The girlfriend’s throat had been slit. Neptune will probably never recover emotionally, nor lose the distant, mourning look he has in his eyes.

My sad friend Neptune.

 

September 27, 1999

I got up early today even though it was my day off. To make it easier to follow the inspiration I received the other day to begin getting up earlier, I worked on developing a relatively sophisticated alarm program on my computer. This afternoon I took some pictures around the farm.

 

September 28, 1999

Mac (one of the three Arizona calves) had a bloated stomach again tonight, from a bad case of gas, so we needed to check on him often to make sure that he stayed sitting up, and didn’t lie over onto his side, which is a bad sign. Gas in humans is rarely more than an inconvenience, but in calves it can be fatal. He lay down on his side on and off later in the evening, so we had Karen come down from her house to check him out. Lori drove down from her house, and came in to see how things were. She said she’d had an intuition to come down here. The three of us, and then Karen when she got here, sat in with the calves. Murray looked a little bloated too, but Miles, the calf with the under-bite, was running around, chewing on our hair, licking our faces, pushing us over and butting us with his head. Karen gave Mac some anti-bloating pills and let some of the air out of his tummy by inserting a hollow needle into it and letting it vent. He seemed better after that, and so we eventually went to bed at 1:00.

Me having my nose licked by a calf.

September 29, 1999

The wind has finally stopped, which means we get to clean up all the straw which blew out of the barns. This was my last day mucking with Robert.

It was the chickens’ turn for healthcare today. I helped with two chickens. What I had to do was catch one and turn it over onto its back on my lap, which calms it down and allows one to inspect it for lice or bumble-foot. Most of the chickens had a lot of lice, so we sprinkled lice powder onto them.

 

September 30, 1999

This afternoon, Gene Bauston took Rachel and me to see the “Orland Livestock Commission Yard,” where cattle are sold as commodities at an auction. When we first got there, we went to an outside area where the cattle were chased out and into the pen of their new owner. A door would open from the auction building and a terrified-looking cow would come running out, then a voice would call something like “19, pen 19!” over a loudspeaker, signaling to the workers outside which pen to chase him or her into. Gene said one buyer might have multiple pens, because he would be buying the animals for various purposes. Someone might have a pen for animals he was taking to a certain farmer, and another pen for animals being sent straight to the slaughterhouse. The workers were hitting the cows with short, whip-like implements to hurry them along into the pens.

Next we went inside and into the auction arena. In a small area in the front was a pen with two doors into it. The door on the left would open, and a terrified and frantic cow would come rushing in. The auctioneer, sticking his head out of an opening in the wall above the pen, would begin rattling off numbers in auction lingo “fifty-one! fifty-un- fifty-un fifty-un fifty-two! fifty-two fifty-two fifty-two fifty-two fifty-two fifty-three!...” There were a couple of people in the pen with the crazed cattle, hitting them with their little white whips, including across the face. One of the younger cows was so frantic that his feet slipped out from under him and he crashed down onto the cement. There didn't seem to be any reason to be hitting them at all at that point except to get them jumping around more so the buyers could see how healthy they were. As soon as the animal is sold, the other door is opened and the frightened, gentle being is whipped on out of there, out to its buyer’s pen, where it will be trucked off to its fate.

The auction finished after a few minutes, and we went outside. On the way out I heard somebody saying “Well, I got my share.” Once we were outside we went around to the other side of the pens, but the owner, Edward, came out and talked to Gene and later Ed’s son joined in the conversation. It was interesting to note how calm, cool and collected Gene was as he handled the whole situation, whereas the stockyard owners were obviously pumping full of various emotions. It’s typically the animal advocates who are perceived and criticized as being the emotional ones, but in this situation that wasn’t the case. Here is a rough rendition of their conversation:

(# signifies a point where the speaker was interrupted.)
(E=Ed, G=Gene, W=Wade, J=Jamie, R=Rachel)

E: How’s it going, guys?
G: Good, how are you doing?
E: I know, hey. Public part’s up there. I’ve talked to you guys before. You’re welcome here.
G: OK.
E: OK. I’m not arguing with you.
G: *extends hand and begins to introduce himself* #
E: I know, Gene.
G: And your name? #
E: Ed. I’ve got no problems with you, but we can’t just come to your place anytime, and walk in. Can I?
G: Well...
E: Can I, Gene?
G: On weekends you can, when we’re open.
E: Any day I could just walk in, and walk around, on my own?
G: Well, we’d have somebody take you around.
E: But you guys just come here and think you can just walk around!
G: Well, not necessarily... #
E: Well you do! Last time you had a whole bunch of people around here walking. OK? And I don’t like it.
G: OK, well maybe #
E: I have no problem with you... You guys are doing what you think’s right, and I’m doing what I think’s right. I have no problems. But we’re on different levels. You guys don’t want people to eat meat, and it doesn’t bother me.
G: Well... #
E: ... I got your thing out of Congress ... I know what you testified in Congress, and talked about. Every time somebody quits eating meat you feel a little successful.
G: Oh, that wasn’t me. When was this?
E: It was a long time ago, oh, and I threw it away.
G: Oh, really, I’d like to see it, because I’m not familiar with that.

. . .

G: From time to time what we’ve done in New York, when we go to stockyards, we’ve actually come, checked in at the office, and then gone walking around, you know, not going into the pens, just sort of wandering around.
E: Ya, there’s nothing, I’m not, that’s not what I’m saying, it’s just I don’t like it, there are certain places you can go, and... #
J: So, where shouldn’t we go?
E: You don’t go...and this is, this is only public here, back there is not.
G: Can we walk along the side here?
E: You can walk there.

. . .

*Wade, Ed’s son, who runs the business, walks up, and shakes Gene’s hand *

W: Well one thing: if you send people out here, they should know, and they do know, they’re not supposed to be taking pictures. It’s against the law. And I know that’s what you want to do. You want to catch it on film. Don’t, don’t lie to me. Don’t shake your head...
G: That depends. No, no, no...

. . .

G: [An example I could give you is] Empire Livestock... #
W: We know what happens at other places... #
G: We were out there last month, in August. I found a downed cow there. We didn’t take any pictures, we [voted] for them to have the animal euthanized. And yes, we have sometimes... #
W: We have euthanized more animals than we would ever want to.
G: Our ultimate goal is to help animals, and there’s things we’re not going to agree on, and there’s things #
W: We know what your ultimate goal is, and *laughter* it is not to help animals... it’s to stop people from eating animals. That’s your ultimate goal...
E: Well, you do know you don’t want people to eat meat!
G: *protesting throughout the last few lines*
E: No, but I mean, if the world was right, no animal would be killed, that’s your feeling.
G: Well, if the world was right, then yah... #
E: Then that’s your ultimate goal.
G: That’s my dream, that’s my dream, that’s sort of my religion... #
W: I got a dream too.
G: (to Wade) Exactly, exactly. But the dream usually stays in the dream state, and the real world is the real world, and that’s [where we work between.]
W: [ something unintelligible] ... but I don’t like them sneaking around #
G: I understand.
W: They’ll sneak around with a camera, and then they’ll say, ‘no, we didn’t take a picture.’ But they had a camera...
E: I just know that if I came to your place, and was sneaking around with a camera, you’d call the cops. You’d get upset. You’d say ‘I don’t want’cha in here.’
G: Well, I mean, if you want to come visit #
E: Oh, I don’t want to come visit #
W: That’s not our point. If we just walked on, and started taking pictures... #
E: People have to think about and realize, before they come in here, that this is not a... this is a public business, but not a public place.
G: I understand.
E: It is personally owned by myself, and I can do what I want with it. I’m not saying I can beat up cows, but you know what I’m saying, this is my place. #
G: Right, and I understand that, and there have been times perhaps when some of our folks have not been particularly respectful, and I am sorry about that #
E: I know that happens.
G: And you know how it’s a very emotional thing #
E: When I get mad, I’m not very respectful either.
G: We’re all that way. So we can go down this way...?
E: Ya, but I just don’t want people wandering into the pens. I got a concussion two weeks ago, a gate hit me in the head. It’s a good way to get hurt.

 

Mac investigating my bags, which are packed and ready to go.

When we returned from the stockyard we had a going away dinner for me. Everybody from the farm was there: Rachel, Lori, the Baustons, Diane, Karen, Nick, Doug, and even Robert, who’s never come to an intern’s farewell party before. As well as having some interesting conversations, I was given some books from the People Barn as a present, along with a really nice card which all the staff signed. It has a picture of Neptune on the front, and a great picture of the three calves, Mac, Murray and Miles. Miles is kicking up his heels and jumping joyfully.

 

A Sunset at Farm Sanctuary...

 

Return to Humans and Other Animals...