As we close out the year, VINE Sanctuary is home to
603 613 animals, having organized or participated in more than 30 events over the course of 2016. Highlights of the year included a mother and calf reunion, summer campers visiting the sanctuary, and the arrival of our first goats and alpacas ever to find refuge at VINE.
As we close out 2016, VINE is home to
603 613 animals, as follows:
- 42 cows, 12 sheep, 4 goats, 3 alpacas, and 1 pig, plus 10 barn cats =
- 313 chickens, 79 pigeons, 42 ducks, 27 doves, 10 geese, 8 turkeys, 8 guinea fowl, 5 emus, 3 peafowl, 2 parrots, and 2 parakeets = 499 birds staying in coops, aviaries, and other sanctuary shelters
- 24 pigeons and 18 ducks = 42 partially rewilded birds occupying sanctuary property and still partially dependent on the sanctuary for food
Here are a few notable newcomers of 2016…
Springtime brought a mother and child reunion to the sanctuary, when we were able to reunite Maddox, who had come to VINE nearly three years before as calf discarded by the dairy industry, with his mother, who we called Moxie in honor of the spunky spirit he got from her. This was among the most meaningful moments in the life of everyone who witnessed the moment when grown-up Maddox recognized the moo he had heard in the womb (and during the one day he had been allowed to spend with his mother) just as Moxie somehow recognized him and they began walking slowly toward each other until their noses met in a kiss.
Mona arrived in July, bringing the number of cows at the sanctuary to an all-time high of 42. Rescued from a kill lot by people there to save horses, Mona was so depleted upon arrival that she could not stand. Today she romps the pastures with her bovine friends, joining the gang in welcoming new arrivals of other species.
And there were a LOT of new arrivals! In September and October, we welcomed more than 90 “spent” hens who otherwise would have died after being discarded by local egg producers, both small- and medium-sized. Although coming from “cage-free” facilities, many of these hens were in very bad shape, with significant feather loss and balls of rock-hard excrement encrusting their toes so that they could not walk properly. Soon and very soon, thanks to plenty of TLC, the new hens were not only walking but running EVERYWHERE, making use not only of the coops, feeding stations, and nesting boxes set up for them but also climbing fences to jump into the feed room and even hopping into any car, truck, or tractor with an open door.
In October a wooly crew of goats and sheep wobbled into that flurry of feathers. Seized from their original “owner” due to extreme neglect, including starvation, these four goats and five sheep had been fostered by someone who did not provide proper vet care during the months that they court case wound its way through the system. As a result, most had foot rot — including one goat with the worst case of foot rot our vet had ever seen — and four elders also had pain from untreated arthritis.
All of the “Mix Mob” are feeling better than when they arrived, especially those who just needed arthritis medication plus nutritional supplementation, but those who had the worst cases of foot rot still are re-growing their hooves as we continue to treat the infection. Meantime, all of us, human and nonhuman alike, have learned all about living with clever goats who know how to trick you into giving them all of your things.
As we do every year, we welcomed a group of chickens rescued from the ritual torture associated with Kaporos. Thirty birds arrived in November, settling into the coop and yard created especially for them, where the only other residents are ducks and elder hens, who help these traumatized youngsters to learn to be birds.
The end of every year always seems to bring one, two, or a few unexpected new residents, but this year takes the (vegan) cake for dramatic arrivals! On the day of our staff party and community vegan cookie swap, we ended up welcoming three alpacas and two emus! The two emus had been exhibits at a petting zoo, never having room to run until the day they arrived at VINE and immediately exercised that ability to the max. The three alpacas — Avalon, Maxmillian, and Domino — most recently had been living at at Christmas tree farm, but Avalon had been used for many years as a prize stud. (We’ll leave the details of that out of this write-up, so as not to trip any filters, but please keep in mind that this is the corollary of the artificial impregnation of female animals. Where do the farmers get what they inject inside them? How? You connect the dots.)
The three alpacas are settling in wonderfully, getting along famously with the goats and sheep and enjoying their nighttime berth in the barn. The cows are very curious, but also cautious, about these camel-like animals with teeth. The two new emus have met at least one of the other emus but haven’t seemed inclined to join the others in their shelter, so we may have to quickly build them something of their own.
Events and Publications
In February, VINE cofounder pattrice jones visited St. Michael’s College in northern Vermont for a three-day visit that included individualized lectures to five different classes and a public talk, entitled “Animal Liberation and Social Justice: What’s the Connection?” that was open to all students and wider community members. This jump-started what would be a whirlwind spring of educational events at which we carried the stories of sanctuary residents out into the world in order to encourage people to think differently. For a taste of what that looked like, check out this video of pattrice speaking at the Conscious Eating Conference in Oakland this March.
Altogether, VINE Sanctuary organized or participated in 35 events in 2016, including our largest number of on-site events ever.
While maintaining our commitment to the privacy and self-determination of sanctuary residents, we found new ways to bring not-yet-vegan people into truly respectful communion with nonhuman animals living at the sanctuary. For example, we hosted numerous volunteer days to which vegan college or university students brought their not-yet-vegan peers, who then not only got a tour of the sanctuary conducted by VINE staff but also spent hours working for and amidst sanctuary residents while also in the company of their vegan peers. Similarly, our quarterly public volunteer days attract a mix of vegan and not-yet-vegan participants for hours of time spent helping sanctuary residents followed by vegan snacks and conversation, ensuring that the experience is not at all like the spectacle of a petting zoo. Thus, we were happy to welcome at least two groups during each of the temperate months.
This summer, we were very excited to host summer campers for the first time! Three groups of summer camp attendees each came to the sanctuary for an age-appropriate version of our usual volunteer day. Each group not only met but HELPED the animals at the sanctuary by helping out with simple tasks such as picking up sticks from pastures. Along the way, they learned the truth about animal agriculture, along with why we see animals as “friends not food.” Sanctuary staff loved overhearing one camper explain to her peers why she feels the same way. Since we are in a rural region in which animal agriculture is practiced, such conversations are an important antidote to the socialization to which local children are subjected, and we intend to find ways to bring local kids to the sanctuary into the future.
In addition to four on-site volunteer days open to the general public, each of which was attended by dozens of people from Vermont and neighboring states, VINE sponsored four vegan potlucks at nearby venues. Intended to promote veganism while building community among local vegans, these seasonal events (scheduled in sync with the solstices and equinoxes) always attract a mix of old friends and veg-curious newcomers.
This year, our fall solstice potluck was themed “The Power of Pulses” as our contribution to the United Nations International Year of Pulses effort. In addition to sharing and encouraging pulse-based dishes, from appetizers through desserts, we provided participants with pulse seed packets, tips on growing and cooking with pulses, and copies of our new publication, also entitled “The Power of Pulses.”
VINE publications this year included not only that pamphlet but also an updated version of our “Why Should I Care About Animal Rights?” leaflet designed to answer common questions posed by social and environmental justice activists. We distributed both of these directly at a variety of events, and we also shared copies for other individuals and organizations to distribute.
Also this year, pattrice contributed two editorials to the Canadian journal, Versus, as well as a co-authored chapter in a new anthology entitled Mourning Animals. Our blog featured several thought-provoking essays, including Kevin’s meditation on empathy and injustice, Dallas’s reflections on language, Katie’s reminiscence of her summer at the sanctuary, and pattrice’s rumination on flower power.
Major infrastructure Improvements
It takes a community to run a sanctuary, and this year our community came through with funds and donated materials to outfit and stock a new infirmary that was an empty shell at the beginning of the year. Now, the infirmary built into the front pasture barn has an array of avian hospital cages (donated by another shelter) and an array of cabinets (salvaged from the side of the road) filled with medicines and supplies (bought with the proceeds of a crowdfunding campaign).
Speaking of infirmaries, we also raised the roof and installed new lighting in our down-the-hill hospital coop, which also has newly painted steps thanks to volunteers. And speaking of salvaged items, Cheryl found old bowling alley lockers, which volunteers stripped and “up-cycled” into nesting boxes for the 90 new hens. We also installed more perches in all of the up-the-hill coops, to accommodate those hens.
Another major improvement came toward the end of the year, when donors helped us to acquire a new-to-us ATV with an attached snow plow. With two ATVs, we are now better prepared for emergencies in the back pasture. We’ve already put the new plow to use several times!
Every sanctuary must say good-bye to some beloved residents each year, and 2016 was no exception. We were particularly grieved by the deaths of the cow called Norman, the duck called Ready, and the rooster called Sharkey. Norman was an elder gentle giant who served as a surrogate uncle to many younger cows until his hips, deformed by the dairy industry, finally gave out completely. Ready was a self-possessed and intrepid duck who readily made friends with members of other species. Sharkey was a former fighting rooster who learned to get along not only with other roosters but also with peacocks, sheep, and ducks. Together, Sharkey and Ready adopted and raised the abandoned duckling we call Junebug. We are sure that she will remember them always, as will we.
Looking Ahead to 2017
We’ve been thinking a lot about how sanctuaries can be better refuges for everybody. In September, we’ll be co-hosting a conference at Wesleyan entitled “Sanctuary: Reflecting on Refuge” (details to be announced soon). In the interim, we’ll be readying a guest room to serve as a kind of refuge for visiting activists from marginalized groups.
Starting in January, a new staff member will be joining us, with a portfolio of tasks including fundraising and administration. This will free pattrice to focus on our education and advocacy campaigns. Nationally, we’ll be focused on three forms of sexualized exploitation of animals — dairy, cockfighting, and backyard hen keeping — taking an intersectional approach to each.
Within Vermont, we’ll be working with partner organizations to promote plant-based agriculture and food production in the state. Locally, we will be organizing and participating in even more events.
On site at the sanctuary, we will continue to provide high-quality care to the more than 600 nonhuman animals who count on the sanctuary. To do that, we will continue to require the aid of our ever-widening circle of volunteers and other extended community members.
Please join us in honoring those we have lost this year while looking ahead with hope (despite everything) by making an end-of-year donation to VINE Sanctuary today. Give right now via PayPal or GiveGab, or send your check to VINE Sanctuary, 158 Massey Road, Springfield VT05156. VINE is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, so your donation will be tax deductible!