Happy Thanksgiving!!

Your ever-faithful blogger is blogging on her day off. This shows her true dedication to the cause of turkeys. Now I shall stop referring to myself in the third person and start posting pictures of turkeys. You can see some of the wild turkeys who live near the sanctuary in this blog's header. I caught that shot during a mating ritual in which all the tom turkeys were attempting to woo the same turkey hen. She laughed at them all. Seriously.

Please take heart, my fellow turkey lovers. This post is for you. Print it out or drag the computer around with you, especially if the dinner table is not so kind to our turkey friends. These turkeys are lucky and happy and chowing down on food as we speak. Celebrate them. Honor them. Feel gratitude and compassion to everyone, from the suffering turkeys to the liberated mink to the oppressed people in far off lands. Think of them all for one brilliant moment and do your best to love them all.

More specifically, you may love the following:

Miss Margaret who is shiny and perfect and who affixes you with a patently perfect turkey stare. She is five and in the prime of her life, according to her anyways.

Her see-through wattle dangles precariously from the softest neck you will ever have the pleasure of stroking (no dirty thoughts, please!). She has bumps and brilliant white feathers. And she hates Maya next door. A lot.

Oh Maya, how you coo and trill and scream what can only be turkey insults at MaryLou next door. You do not like her. At all. Sometimes you fly into their house next door just to taunt and prance and puff you feathers up in displays of anger. You do not peck, merely display. MaryLou does not like it one bit, though. We shoo you back to your rightful spot, you with squawks of indignation, MaryLou with trumpeting trills of victory!

MaryLou, MaryLou, MaryLou! You are so serious, lighten up! Enjoy the sunshine and green, verdant grass.

Stop staring at me with your serious eyes, your baleful glare will not make me sympathetic. It will actually, but I will not admit to such things.

You are groomer extraordinairre. Sometimes you groom me, the chickens, the other turkeys. Mostly, you groom yourself. Digging deep into the furrows of you feathers, sliding beak up and down, pulling oils and spreading them across great expanses of feathered valleys and mountains. You are the zen master of feather cleaning.

Willow, perfect, greedy, rude, angry, happy Willow! Do not tell any of the others, but you are my favorite. You are not personable. You are not overjoyed to see me or anyone else. You are grumpy and so very serious. Each day is onerous for you, a time to puff up your feathers and scream at the other turkeys and chickens. Peck! A startled hen goes flying. Snap! A rooster runs away in horror. You laugh at it all, proud of your bad attitude. I love you for it.

Eliza! Our resident "foster turkey" - you represent all of the turkeys not so lucky to make it to a sanctuary. You take the nesting behavior to a whole new level, dedicating your body, mind and soul to that one infertile egg. You love when one of your chicken friends nests with you, sometimes all we see of you is jumbled feathers, chicken feet perched on your back, or a chicken head poking happily out from under your breast. You hiss and shrilly trill when any of us get too close to your precious package or chicken friend. Nesting is serious business.

And then there is Zarriah and Serena, two old-lady turkeys with extremely shy personalities. They turn ten this year. And there was Leland too - he died this year, but his beauty and big personality live on. Tom turkey died soon after Leland, his best bud forever. We miss both of you.

Happy Thanksgiving from all the turkeys at Animal Place!

Resources - Antibiotics

Animal Place is compiling resources on farmed animals, from antibiotic-resistance to behavior to environmental degradation. This post includes information on antibiotic resistance and its ties to the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. Posting these resources does not indicate endorsement of authors, organizations or all the content therein. This is not meant to be a definitive list.

If you have suggestions on other links related to antibiotic resistance and livestock, please feel free to leave us a message in the comment section.

The American Society of Microbiology
Antibiotic Resistance: An Ecological Perspective on an Old Problem
.pdf or executive summary
MRSA found in poultry
Johns Hopkins
The Farm/Food/Health Connection (powerpoint presentation, general) 
Fate of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in stored poultry litter 
Environmental Health Perspectives
Antibiotic Resistance in Livestock - more at stake than steak
.pdf or pubmed entry
Health Observatory

Antibiotic Use in US Aquaculture
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Antibiotic Growth Promoters in Livestock
Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Aquaculture
Antibiotic Use in Aquaculture and Antimicrobial Resistance 
United States Department of Agriculture
Antimicrobial Drug Use and Veterinary Costs in U.S. Livestock Production

World Health Organization
Use of antimicrobials outside human medicine
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Antibiotic Resistance and Animal Agriculture Fact Sheet
Rodale Institute
Water, antibiotics and "Animal Farm"
Science Daily
MRSA Found in Swine Workers, Pigs
Poultry Consumption, Handling are Risk Factors in Antibiotic Resistance in Humans 
Spreading Antibiotics in the Soil Affects Microbial Ecosystems 
Routine Feeding of Antibiotics to Livestock May be Contaminating the Environment
University of Minnesota
Antibiotic losses in runoff and drainage from manure-applied fields
The Pew Charitable Trust
Antibiotic resistance in humans 
Getting real about the high price of food
Environmental Health News
Crops absorb livestock antibiotics

Vegan Thanksgiving

I count myself one of the lucky, every Thanksgiving for the past few years has been vegan. No more worries over how I should react when the body came out. No more gag reflex responses every time someone mentioned how tasty that body was.

Sadly, this is not true for most people. I can't offer any advice, either. I was not a graceful vegan in the presence of a dead turkey on the Thanksgiving table. My strong sentiment is that, this one day a year, everyone could show a real ounce of gratitude and compassion by not killing any animal. Which ise fine to think, but I often accompanied these thoughts with, you know, actual words and stuff. Grumpy vegans are no fun. But hey, neither is watching a once-beautiful bird's body get stuffed into people's faces.

I've compiled a list of links to various recipes that might prove useful for next week's holiday. FARM has a nice little guide to the holidays for both you veggie loving fiends and those of the omnivorous persuasion.

There are a lot of alternatives to an actual turkey. You can purchase them commercially or make them yourself. These are all turkey approved, by the way. They'd eat these roasts up like they were going out of style.

Obviously this isn't a complete menu for your holidays. I hope your Thanksgiving is cruelty-free and full of awesomeness!

Tofurky - Not all vegans like this stuff, to which I say PIFFLE! You can buy the roast or a complete meal (sorta) with dumplings, gravy, stuffing and a wishstix (going all crazy with the funny spellings again). Tofurky gravy is the best commercial gravy. Ever. That's just a fact, and you may try to dispute it, but you cannot with me as your audience.
Celebration Roast - Get your salty-celebration on with this tasty roasty grainy goodness.
Gardein Veggie Turkey with stuffing - I haven't had this stuff yet, but I'm all over Gardein products like vultures on carrion!! That's a gross analogy, but vultures really like their carrion and I really like Gardein products, but I'm decidedly more classy when I'm eating their products. Not that vultures aren't classy.  The only reason I bring up vultures is because I read an article about vultures taking over a town and residents afraid these nonviolent birds were going to EAT THEIR CHILDREN. They are turkey vultures, and we're talking turkeys and such here. There's my logic.
Make your own Tofu Turkey Roast - there's like five million comments to assist or distract. I've never made this, because I'm all for other people making my food. Just kidding about that.
Cider marinated tofu turkey (OH MY GOSH IT IS CUTE, LOOK AT IT NOW!)
Celebration Pot pie

Green bean mushroom casserole
Roasted butternut squash
Spiced cranberry sauce
Homemade vegan stuffing
Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
Mashed sweet potatoes with coconut milk

You could totally be as awesome as Owen here with his whole head in a giant 60 pound pumpkin. Or you could be lame and make a dignified pie or something. Whatever makes you happy, right?

Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Pie bites
Autumn pumpkin spice cookies
Frangipane Pear Crostata
Chocolate cheesecake
Cranberry Walnut Tart

Animal Place Holiday Shopping

Holiday Shopping at Animal Place

This holiday season give the gift of compassion and love with one of the many gift options available through Animal Place. Every purchase you make helps feed the animals, provide much-needed medical care, and allows us to continue our life-saving work.

Share your compassion this year by buying from our holiday gift store!

Maybe you want a Photo Print of one of the sanctuary residents or perhaps you want to share your love of the sanctuary with a Foster Parent Gift Package. Whatever you decide, please know you are continuing the life-saving work of the sanctuary!

Please allow 1-2 weeks for photos to ship. Order by December 15, 2009 and get your package before the holiday.

Animal Place’s 2010 Barnyard Calendar

Stuff the stockings with this delightful, full-color 5.5” x 8” calendar depicting twelve of the most photogenic animals at the sanctuary! You’ll ohh over Flower, the pig and ahh over Aiden the sheep.

Price: $5.00
Group discount: 5 calendars for $18.75 (25% discount)

Is this a gift? Make sure to include the recipient’s address in the “merchant notes” block.

2010 Calendar

Animal Place’s Holiday Gift Package
Love cows and sheep? Adore goats and chickens? Can’t have a turkey or sheep where you live? Give the gift of a “Foster Parent” package instead! This gift includes a full-color description and picture of the adopted animal, a wallet card and our 2010 Animal Place Barnyard Calendar!

Choose from Howie the cow, Sophie the sheep, Peggy Sue the pig, Rosebud the rabbit, Eliza the turkey, Cecilia the chicken, and Sebastian the goat.

Each package is $25.00

Is this a gift? Make sure to include the recipient’s address in the “merchant notes” block.

Holiday Gift Package

Animal Place’s Holiday Gift Package plus Film
In addition to the foster parent package, this gift package includes our film, The Emotional World of Farm Animals. This is a non-violent documentary that takes a look at animals in sanctuary settings – you might even see some Animal Place stars! The film offers insight into the engaging and enriching world of farmed animals. Appropriate for all ages.

Each package is $35.00

Is this a gift? Make sure to include the recipient’s address in the “merchant notes” block.

Holiday Gift Package plus Film

Photos of Sanctuary Animals
Every animal at the sanctuary is precious and for visitors, it’s hard not to want to bring them home! Well, now you can! Welcome one of the Animal Place residents into your home with a matted photo. Even if you haven’t visited the sanctuary, welcome a bit of it into your home! And know that your purchase directly benefits the animal in the picture and all the animals at the sanctuary!

Each photo is 8x10” printed on acid-free paper on an 11x14” mat and secured in a poly-bag. Each photo is attached in such a way that you can re-frame or re-mat, if you prefer.

Is this a gift? Make sure to include the recipient’s address in the “merchant notes” block.

Each photo is $18. Purchase three and receive a 20% discount – only $43.00! Please specify which three you want in the “merchant notes” section.

Choose from:

Gilbert the Goat
Finnegan the Rooster
Nicholas the calf
Summer & Freedom the calves
Virginia &Lenny the sheep


Country View Farmily Farms - Mercy for Animals investigates

Mercy for Animals has once again given us access to the inner world of farming, and it isn't pretty. Country View Family Farms markets itself as a coalition of family farmers that infuses the local community with $12 million a year and offers a sustainable method of raising animals for their flesh.

An investigation (graphic video) into one of their 100 "family farms" gives a rather disturbing picture of what a "family farm" does to the animals in its care. Stephanie over at Change.org details the investigation and the reality these pigs endure.

I want to touch upon the statement Country View Farms issued that you can read here.

According to spokesperson, Dr. Jessica Clark, who also happens to be a veterinarian (scary),the pigs at this farm were "mishandled" and that the "high quality" of care were less than high at this farm and, wait for it, this was an isolated event.


Ignoring the bashing of piglets into door frames, the lack of medical treatment, and the improper stunning of a sow, standard operating procedures at this farm include:

Castration without pain relief: There is nothing illegal or uncommon in how the male piglets in the video are castrated. It happens every day on nearly every single farm to the more than 50 million male pigs born into this world. The video shows workers slicing open the scrotum of piglets and ripping out their testicles. Please imagine doing this to a dog or cat and explaining it away as "standard" and "quick" and that the "animals don't feel it for long".

Tail docking: All piglets have their tails sliced off with the same knife. All without pain relief. 

Gestation and farrowing crates: Most of the 10-15 million sows in this country live in stalls so small they cannot turn around. They bite and chew their bars, trying desperately to cope with the trauma of forced confinement.

Tattooing: I am not certain how common tattooing sows without pain relief and with the same unsterilized sharp implements is in the country - it isn't a violation of any law, that is for sure. And the vet probably isn't referring to tattooing as a violation of this company's "high standards" of care.

Gassing piglets to death: This too is normal, though another acceptable method is cervical dislocation or bashing a piglet's head into a concrete floor. That's legal too. Gassing with CO2 is not nice or easy, it is frightening and painful.

Castration without pain relief, gestation crates, tattooing without pain relief and gassing are normal. They are not outliers that occur on isolated farms.

Do not worry, dear readers, all the 100 farms have undergone extensive re-training so that pigs won't be mishandled any more. I mean, they will still castrate pigs without pain-relief, still stab sows with sharp objects to mark them, still gas piglets to death, still house intelligent, social animals in cages so small they cannot turn around. But hey, maybe fewer piglets will be randomly bashed into walls and maybe fewer sows will be left to suffer from their intestines falling out of them. Hard to be reassured, isn't it?

Go vegan.

Willy the goat moseys

Willy the goat

Slaughterhouse owner pleads no contest

Last year, Santa Cruz County Animal Services director, Todd Stosuy noticed a cow with a broken horn spraying blood a foot in the air. The shocking sight led him to an even more tragic situation - a custom slaughterhouse. Goats, rabbits, pigs, chickens and other animals subsisted off of bread and tortillas. One goat was down, others were extremely emaciated. The owner claims the animals were for religious ceremonies and, as such, did not need to be stunned insensible to pain before having their throats cut.

Animal Control legally confiscated more than a dozen goats, two sheep and two rabbits. Unfortunately, California law did not permit the confiscation of the hundreds of remaining animals, all of whom are most likely dead by now.

Animal Place accepted six goats and two sheep. The remaining goats and cow were sent to Farm Sanctuary. The animals were in varying degrees of poor health. Because of their poor diet of inappropriate feed, all the goats had various degrees of hoof and leg problems. We lost one goat. Another was so lame, she could only get around by crawling on her front knees. The two sheep were very thin, bones poking through wool. Most of the goats had overgrown hooves. Two animals were pregnant, one giving birth to twin kids, the other to a beautiful male lamb.

The district attorney decided to press charges against the owner, an incredible thing, all things considered. Dogs and cats are low on the prosecutorial totem pole, let alone goats, sheep and cattle.

Unlike so many other cases, the defense soon learned that all the witnesses called - from the director of animal control to our own Abby Patterson, sanctuary supervisor, well, they all showed up. Even the USDA inspector who was to testify on a video of an improper slaughter arrived. The defense decided to take a deal. The owner, Efrain Toledo Martinez, pled no contest to two counts of animal neglect. That is it. He has to pay $190 in court fees and $868 to Santa Cruz Animal Services. Animal Place alone exceeded $1,000 caring for these neglected animals. Of course we do not save lives because their care is paid for, but there is a disconnect in how much it really costs to make health more than a dozen sick, emaciated animals. 

We are, of course, disappointed. Justice was not served, not by a long shot. We are grateful that the district attorney decided to pursue charges against Martinez. And a big thank you to Todd Stosuy & Santa Cruz County Animal Services for rescuing these animals...few animal control agencies can claim to have that much respect and compassion for farmed animals. 

So how are all the animals doing?

Lucy, the goat who was so lame she had to walk on her knees is now living in Santa Cruz with C.A.P.E. A vet diagnosed her with severe laminits and, after complete removal of grain from her diet, Lucy now walks without a discernible limp. She even lets guardian, JP, hand-feed her - something she would never do a year ago!

Millie, Adele and the two babies she gave birth to at the sanctuary, Todd and Tess, live with a wonderful couple in Arizona. They drove all the way out to California to adopt the four goats. We've heard reports that Millie gets to come into the house and that Todd is a little bit of a head-butter.

Annie and Jessica remain at Animal Place, far too shy for adoption elsewhere. They integrated easily into the current herd. The two are like sisters, spending most of their time together and calling to each other when separated. 

Etta, Virginia and the lamb she gave birth to, Lenny, are doing okay. Lenny is more than a year old and looks all grown up! He still spends a lot of time following his mom around. Etta hasn't gained much weight, so she's still skinny - we think it's because she's a really old sheep lady. She loves her back massages. 

Of course, everyone should check out one of the first tender moments Virginia and Lenny shared - nose to snout mom and son.

Bovine Introductions

Elsa cried all night. Since she was so stressed, we decided to let her out today rather than wait a few more weeks. When the gate opened, Elsa immediately left her pasture and started exploring. Nicholas saw her and made a beeline in her direction. Love at first sight! According to Nicholas, anyways. In Elsa's opinion, not so much.

Animal Place has a small herd of cattle, five in all. Well, six with Elsa. With the exception of Sadie, the other cattle have essentially grown up here. Introductions went smoothly with Nicholas, Summer and Freedom because cattle tend to accept younger animals with great ease. Sadie spent nearly two years socially isolated while her mastitis was treated but when she finally was released - she booked it for Howie, touched noses and that was that, they were best friends for life.

And then there is Elsa. Her behavior is shockingly different than previous cattle. We're not sure if this is because she is stressed out (likely) or if this is just her personality (also likely). Initially, she ignored Nicholas who followed her while she explored the sanctuary. When she met Howie, she didn't just touch noses, maybe push heads together - she head-butted him and tried to shove him away. At 13 and 2,200 lbs, Howie is arthritic and, tragically cannot hold his own against a 900lb 15-yr-old sassy cow. He went and hid behind Sadie. Elsa tried to greet Sadie the same way as she did Howie but even with a bum back leg, Sadie held her own and was not going to be pushed around by this newcomer. Elsa backed down and then promptly head-butted tiny Freedom into the creek bed. Unperturbed, Freedom sniffed Elsa and then took off for the hills with Summer. I couldn't blame him.

Elsa isn't the stereotypical docile cow who gets along with everyone. She's pushy and rude. Her small stature means she maneuvers more easily than Sadie and Howie, for sure. This is as much a new experience for us as it is for Elsa (though arguably less stressful for us than Elsa). It's only been a few hours since her release, so it's only fair to give her time to calm down and find her place within the herd (right now, she's engaged in a heated shoving match with Nicholas). We'll keep an eye on her, especially when she interacts with Sadie and Howie who cannot suffer a fall in their current states (Howie is pretty arthritic and heavy, Sadie has a permanent rear-leg limp).

This too shall pass for Elsa. But it's hard not to think about the unfairness of it all. Elsa should have spent her last few years on that little school farm with the cattle and people she knew and loved. Even the smallest, least cruel farm sends animals who have years left to live to slaughter. For at every farm, the value of an animal is not in how pushy she is or if she loves back scratches or how gentle he is with the calves, it's in how much milk, how many babies, how many pounds of flesh they produce.

Nicholas tries to bond with Elsa Nicholas follows Elsa Elsa and Chester touch noses

Meet Elsa, the newest bovine resident!

Several months ago, we received a call from a local school that planned on sending their 15-yr-old Jersey cow to slaughter. The cow had been used as a teaching tool for her entire life, giving birth to nine calves and spending her life at this one farm. We couldn't let her be sent to her death, so we agreed to welcome the 6th cow to the sanctuary!

Today, Elsa the cow arrived. She's a gorgeous Jersey cow. Her life has been torn asunder. All she has known for fifteen years is this one farm, the people and visitors, the other cow. At Animal Place, her life is different and new. It is scary. She has spent the past two hours pacing in her temporary pasture, lowing for her bovine friends. When she was first unloaded from the stock trailer, she let out a big bellow. Hearing her, Nicholas came running. I mean, literally. The babies came over too but Howie & Sadie felt the distance was too far and they're waiting until later to say hi.

Nicholas running over to meet the new cow

Nicholas is embarrassed by the fact that he is almost the same size as Elsa and, really, he should be a little bigger.
Elsa and Nicholas

Nomnom Time!
Elsa and Nicholas

Elsa meeting the babies

And then he said that she said that HEY A CAMERA!
Nicholas chatting with Elsa
Pretty Lady
Elsa looking pretty
nov 10 2009 elsa smb
Yes, I can eat the hay.
Nov 10 2009 elsa sma

So welcome home, Elsa. We hope you settle in soon and love your new digs and all of your new bovine buddies!

The Giant Pumpkin

Every day, we receive hundreds of pounds of day-old produce donated by two grocery stores. Yesterday, an employee at one notified us that a 60lb pumpkin had failed to sell and did we want it? Um, do pigs love food? Yes!

The Pumpkin
Abby, sanctuary supervisor and Louie, animal caregiver, took a picture with the giant gourd.

And then it was time to abandon the pumpkin to its fate.

Enjoy! The pigs and cattle sure did!

The Pumpkin Solo Act The Pumpkin Act I: Sheep & Pig Meet The Pumpkin Act II: Soccer Time!

The Pumpkin Act III: Sleepy Hollow Re-enactment The Pumpkin Act IV: Cows arrive! The Pumpkin Act V: NOM

The Pumpkin Act VI: Goats are disgusted The Pumpkin VII: Patty is Proud

Photo prints: Who should be immortalized?

The animals are tired of only receiving online attention, now they want to be permanently etched in photo paper! We want to select 3-4 of our photos to print and sell to you fine folks. We think they'd make perfect holidays gifts for the animal lover in your life. But it's so hard to decide!! I mean, how can we pick between Nicholas and Looloo? IT IS TOO HARD, THE CUTE IS TOO MUCH. We are asking for your help!!

Here are the twelve final applicants with a write-in option available! The winners will have their images immortalized on 8x10" acid-free photo paper, matted, inserted into a poly-bag and made available for purchase to their fans (you). Proceeds will help benefit the animals at the sanctuary, yay!

Grazing Gwen        Turkey Lady         Chester the Pig     Summer & Freedom
Grazing Gwen Turkey lady serious Chester and Susie pigs graze Calf cuteness attack

Looloo                 Aiden Sheep     Nicholas steer        Happy sanctuary sheep
Fluffy Looloo is fluffy Aiden Posing Nicholas Jersey steer Happy sanctuary sheep

Virginia & Lenny                    Leland              Bruce & Co.                Gilbert
Virginia touching noses with baby Leland Bruce and company Gilbert

Please limit yourself to 3-4 selections.
Who should be immortalized?
Grazing Gwen
Turkey Lady
Chester the Pig
Summer and Freedom calves
Fluffy Looloo hen
Aiden the sheep
Nicholas steer
Happy sanctuary sheep
Virginia & Lenny touching noses
Leland the turkey
Bruce the pig and friends
Gilbert the goat
Please Specify: