Sunday, August 2, 2009

Our Trip to Farm Sanctuary

Earlier this summer, Farm Sanctuary, an animal rescue an education center, had a hoe-down on its Orland, California property, and I was super-bummed I couldn't make it. There was a barn dance, delicious vegan food, and time well-spent with their 400-something rescued animals. I realized, however, that missing this one event did not mean I had to miss out on visiting the farm, so I went online and found out about their country cabin (left). The husband and I picked a weekend, booked it, and had a simply amazing time.

We drove up from SF on Friday, which took about 3 hours with some traffic, and there was hardly anyone on the farm when we arrived. For us city folks, it was a bit eerie, but we unpacked and then walked around the property. People are always welcome to do this, but you are not allowed inside animal enclosures without a staff member. For that, we would have to wait for our tour the next day. Unable to see too much on the farm, we decided to explore nearby Black Butte Lake (right) before dinner, and then head back to the cabin to eat. We brought a lot of our own food since you're kind of in the boonies out there. Plus I love to make meals at home, and the cabin had a cute little kitchenette. Our tofu salads and soup digesting, we settled in for some quiet. With no lights or big towns anywhere nearby, there was fantastic stargazing and ear-resting silence. Ahhh....

After a great night's sleep, we got the day started off right with our tour. Meeting up with our awesome guide Sofia, we first met the goats. Such social and lovable animals, all they wanted was to be scratched and pet. We learned some of their horrific stories, and it was wonderful to see how well-adjusted and kind and happy they are considering their pasts. We also met some outgoing cows, my husband learning for the first time just how big these beautiful creatures are. Here I am with Swoozie the goat and one of the much smaller cows, Hank. Doomed to be veal, he was rescued at a young age and now thrives at Farm Sanctuary.

After these guys, we saw the sheep, donkeys, rabbits, turkeys, chickens and water fowl (geese, ducks, etc.). Sadly we could not see the pigs because of stupid swine flu precautions. I understood of course, but pigs are some of the smartest, sweetest creatures and I was hoping to hang with them a bit. Maybe next time....

When the tour was over, the gift shop was open, and I got some gear and checked out some of the vegan snacks they had on hand, even learning a thing or two. For example, I never would have guessed that the White Chocolate Macadamia Luna Bar is vegan. I see them all the time, but never would have picked one up. Who knew??

Anyhoo, we then decided to head east 30 miles to Chico and explore the town. To beat the heat (high 90's), we saw a movie. Since it was a matinee, we paid only $6 a ticket! Unheard of in San Francisco. Afterward, it was off to dinner. The folks at Farm Sanctuary recommended Grilla Bites and, despite the silly name, it did not disappoint.

I indulged in my favorite form of dining - the salad bar. Above you see a bed of lettuce topped with olives, walnuts, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers, and tabbouleh. Yum. The husband had the portobella mushroom sandwich with chips and hummus. He says it was delicious:

The food was great, but more important to notice is that this was all organic, vegan food, available outside a huge metropolitan area. The movement is growing, folks. People are catching on. :)

All in all, our experience at Farm Sanctuary was so very gratifying. The peacefulness of the location, the quiet majesty of the animals, the friendly and knowledgeable staff... it all added up to the perfect getaway. The work that the people there are doing is so honorable. In a world that kills and throws away so many animals on a daily basis, to be at a place where they are able to save some, and then educate folks about the horrors of the meat and dairy industries, is truly inspirational. Sometimes all it takes to change a person's mind about what they eat is seeing their "food" up close and personal, and FS makes that possible.

Wanting to do even more, I came home today and immediately signed up for Farm Sanctuary's Walk for Farm Animals. Donations from members and events such as this make up the majority of their budget, so check the site and see if there's a walk you can join near you. And, of course, please check out my page and help me become a top fund raiser! Every little bit helps and I, along with the animals, would be so very thankful.

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