Last Sunday, Megan and I made the short trip up to High Falls to visit the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. I hadn’t been in about two years, and going was the only thing I wanted for my birthday.
The farm, which is home to over 400 rescued animals including chickens, cows, turkeys, pigs, sheep, goats, bunnies, ducks, and even a llama, offers tours on the hour during their visitor weekends which are open to the public and included with the $10 suggested donation at admission.
The tour begins with the chickens, who are quick-moving and difficult to get a good photo of. Luckily, the rooster who was hanging out with the hens that day was grateful enough to pose for me after I fed him a handful of grapes.
With the small wire cages behind the hen-house serving as a reminder of the conditions these poor birds were rescued from, it was impossible not to smile at them running around freely and chasing around anyone they thought might have a treat.
Next, we moved on to the cows.
Even though I had visited these exact cows before, I was still struck by the size of them. It is impossible to be standing in from of them, looking into their huge eyes, and not feel like you are in the presence of a really incredibly creature.
We got to pet them (over the fence for safety) and feed them alfalfa cubes. The treat-giving was…messy. But I hadn’t come to a farm to stay clean.
We listened to the tour guide’s description of slaughterhouses and the horrors of the dairy industry – all things I know but that still turn my stomach to hear. An industry-standard veal-crate sits only a few feet away from where the cows get to roam free with their friends, reminding us of the conditions these cows escaped.
Next, it was off to roll around in the mud with my favorite animals – the pigs!
The family of pigs we got to visit, named Hurley’s family, consisted of a mom and her four babies (about one year old) who had been rescued with severe sunburn and malnourished from a dirt yard last year.
While most of the people in the tour group were tip-toeing around poop and avoiding the muddier spots on pig bellies, I found a nice comfy spot in the dirt to cuddle up with one very muddy and very affectionate black pig.
Just like dogs, these babies just wanted their bellies rubbed and their ears scratched. I left the pig pen with stained clothes, smelling horribly, and with the biggest smile on my face.
We made one last stop on our tour, and I learned that Megan is apparently a goat-whisperer. She made quick friends with one hungry guy who was missing a front leg. He got along so well without it that we didn’t even notice it until he stood up from eating and started walking away!
Albie lost his leg to infection because he had been hogtied before his rescue. He has had a special prosthetic leg made as well as his very own wheelchair, but the guides say he much prefers running around on his own.
The pygmy goats, who look like forever-babies, were of course a fan-favorite!
We then bought way too much stuff at the gift shop and headed into Woodstock for lunch at the Garden Cafe.
I highly suggest, whether you’re vegan or not, that you visit a nearby farm sanctuary. There is just something about being in front of these animals and hearing their stories that makes it impossible to just shrug off their suffering.
And they’re super cute, too!