A Year at VINE Sanctuary
We bring the year to a close with 510 animals in residence here at the sanctuary. Off-site, we organized or participated in 39 events. Here’s a month-by-month look back at 2014…
On January 3rd, it was warmer at the North Pole than at VINE Sanctuary. The temperature vacillated treacherously throughout the month, turning foraging yards into skating rinks and strengthening our determination to do what we can about climate change.
In February, snow fell on our local “Valentines from VINE” letter-writing event, but members of our extended community set up an event in Portland, providing participants with everything they needed to write letters to incarcerated earth and animal liberation activists. Back at the sanctuary, we concentrated on keeping everybody safe, warm, and well-fed.
In March, one of VINE’s cofounders set out on a speaking tour through Spain and Italy, exchanging ideas with feminist, anarchist, and animal liberation activists in seven cities. Closer to home, we spoke and tabled at the Valley VegFest — the first of five VegFests at which VINE staff and volunteers would share information and ideas with both animal advocates and “veg curious” browsers.
In April, the sanctuary welcomed groups of student volunteers from the University of Vermont and from Smith and Hampshire Colleges. Later in the year, the UVM animal rights club would make a return trip and Brandeis students would come for their annual “volunteer vacation.” We needed the help! After the ravages of the winter, we had to put more work that usual into grounds and building maintenance, including digging new culverts in the back pastures before allowing cows back into their favorite summertime stomping grounds.
In May, five former fighting roosters flew in from the Carolinas, where they had been seized by authorities and placed by Carolina Waterfowl Rescue. As we began rehabilitating the roosters, a cow called Bobby arrived, thanks to a generous transport grant from the Green Mountain Animal Defenders. Also in May, a struggle began to rescue animals subjected to extreme neglect at a local amusement park. We joined the protests and, throughout the summer, provided support and solidarity to the organizers. Off-site, a talk at Boston University was one of three campus events at which VINE spoke this year.
, we offered refuge to five young turkeys who had suffered extreme neglect at an allegedly “humane” farm. They grew quickly, and the one we decided to call Fabio soon proved to be especially adept at photo bombing. Off-site events in June included our annual intervention into the “Strolling of the Heifers” parade in Brattleboro, tabling and marching at a queer liberation event in Boston, a talk at the Left Forum in NYC, and the publication of The Oxen at the Intersection
, which tells the story of Bill and Lou from the sanctuary’s point of view.
Also in June (it was a busy month), VINE hosted the first of two groups of animal studies scholars to visit us over the summer. Participants in the Animal Studies Institute/Wesleyan Animal Studies Fellowship took a morning tour followed by an afternoon of volunteer work capped off by a discussion in the barn. The next month, scholars associated with the Queen’s University critical animal studies program drove down from Canada, stopping in at VINE as part of a tour of sanctuaries. They too both toured and volunteered, putting their muscles into conjunction with their minds.
brought the arrival of the very first porcine resident of the sanctuary: Truffles. Bonded to the chickens and guinea fowl we also took in from the informal sanctuary where they all had been staying, this nine-year-old pig would have been without any of her friends if we did not agree to take her too. Meanwhile, the cows in the back pastures hiked the hilly woods, their numbers increased by the arrival of Howie, a discard of the dairy industry who had been rescued as a calf by people now no longer able to care for him. Off-site, VINE hosted a “Queer Vegan Speak-Out” in Boston.
, a bonded pair of ducklings, called Ozzie and Harriet, joined the VINE community. Mallards who were born in captivity, these two youngsters spend their days socializing with the wild ducks who visit our pond but then come home to the coop to sleep at night. Off-site, VINE sponsored and spoke at a conference on anti-pipeline activism as a form of animal defense.
September saw the arrival of a survivor of dairying called Be, bringing our bovine population to 40. Be had endured numerous impregnations leading to miscarriages or still births before being discarded by a dairy. Off-site, VINE leafleted the NYC Climate March with a mini-zine stressing the importance of veganism among the changes needed to arrest global warming.
In October, we were overjoyed to welcome three refugees from the local amusement park from which they were finally seized by authorities: two peacocks and an emu. The two emus previously in residence, Tiki and Breeze, are both male. We had grown used to their vibrating vocalizations, which feel like an engine purring in your chest. What a surprise to discover that female emus make a different sound — thump, thump — that feels like your own heart beating.
Also in October (another very busy month) VINE participated in the annual protest against the use of chickens as Kaporos, welcomed 30 survivors of that atrocity to the sanctuary, and coordinated the transport of more than 200 other survivors to other sanctuaries. Meanwhile, we debuted our new zine, “Plant-Powered People” at the Boston Zine Fest, participated in the Seneca Falls Dialogues, and gave a workshop on veganism as empowerment at a conference for LGBTQ youth of color.
In November, VINE participated in the Boston Anarchist Bookfair and the New Hampshire Animal Rights League Gentle Thanksgiving as well as staging our own “vegan tasting” in Boston. Further afield, we offered a workshop on intersectionality and animal rights to staff members at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Early in December, Vermont Vegans sponsored a reading of The Oxen at the Intersection in Barre. Later in the month, VINE staff chose to transform our holiday staff party into a community vegan potluck. On the same day of the potluck, which happened to be solstice, a blue-eyed goose called Sky and her bonded pair of turkey friends became the newest residents of VINE Sanctuary. Raggedy and hungry after months of neglect, they dug into their own dinners gladly.
None of the work we do would be possible without the support of our community of donors.
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