The Stare of Sadie

On a cool, foggy morning I crouch next to her, scratching her neck as she stretches, and angles for the optimal position. The emerging sun glints off her hair, reflects back. She looks into my eyes. I gaze back into brown-black pools of what? Intelligence? Thought? Emotions? That and more? We had never communicated like this before – she, a cow; me, a human. For years, I tried to make eye contact, to convey my love, respect, joy at being near her. And, she would look away, shake her head, throw off my advances. Not today.

Sadie is a steady being, a painful one, a creature who is sometimes a complete mystery to me, sometimes a bright light of clarity. I fumble in my friendship with her. She tolerates my awkward attempts at communication, endures my steady hope that today, today is the day we understand each other.

Who is Sadie?

To know Sadie now, you must know who she was…or perhaps, wasn’t.

You can read more over at Animal Rights and AntiOppression

New York Dairy Investigation - not limited to factory farms

Mercy for Animals recently investigated a large, New York dairy farm. ABC News and Nightline both covered the story. Follows is video footage. Please be warned, some of the content may be difficult to watch.

The video is not easy to view. I love cows, they are my favorite of the large farmed animals. Two cows on a small dairy farm in northern California inspired me to go vegan. At the sanctuary, there is Sadie, a cow who I am honored to know and love. She too came from a small dairy farm and her life was miserable - she was tail-docked, de-horned, and deprived of her babies time and time again.

Practices Common on Most Dairy Farms
Tail docking occurs on farms of ALL sizes, not just factory farms. Approximately 1/3 of all dairy cows endure the amputation of their tail without pain relief. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Association of Bovine Practitioners oppose this practice.
Dehorning without pain relief occurs on ALL farms, not just factory farms.

Maternal deprivation occurs on ALL farms, not just factory farms. 100% of all male calves are removed from their mothers the day they are born. 97% of all female calves are removed from their mom within the first 24-hours of birth.

Only 1.7% of the nine million cows in the United States spend most or all their time grazing on pasture. Approximately 75% of all dairy cows never see pasture or graze green grass.

The only practice not common on dairy farms, though often brought up in these discussions, is the use of growth hormone - only 17% of cows in lactation are injected with the hormone. Most dairy cows have been artificially selected to produce 8-10 times more milk than a normal cow would.

So, let's be clear - these horrible things you see in the video? They are not merely restricted to "factory farms". They happen on most farms. Choosing a "less cruel" milk is not making the "most compassionate" decision - becoming vegan is.

Vegan Bake Sales

If you want to help with the relief efforts in Haiti while also eating tasty, vegan goods, then check out the list below and see if any vegan bake sales are going on near you.

Animal Place staff will be baking and tabling at the Sugar Plum Vegan Cafe in Sacramento - come by and say hi! Also, eat food!

1/23 (Sat) Sacramento
Sugar Plum Vegan Cafe
2315 K Street
11:00 – 3:00 pm
Benefits Food for Life Global
1/23 (Sat) San Francisco
Patricia’s Green
Hayes St. at Octavia
11:00 – 4:00 pm
1/31 (Sun) Los Angeles
5825 Franklin Ave
11:00-4:00 pm
Benefits Doctors without Borders
1/30 (Sat) Minneapolis
Ethique Nouveau
317 West 48th St
12:00-5:00 pm
1/24 (Sun) Omaha
McFoster’s Natural Kind Cafe
302 S. 38th St
12:00-2:00 pm
Benefits Mercy Corps
1/26 (Tues) Las Vegas
UNLV Campus
4505 S Maryland Parkway
11:00-5:00 pm
More information here
New York
1/28 (Th) New York City
Angels and Kings
500 East 11th St.
7:00-9:00 pm
Benefits Sodoprec (Dominican veterinarians, site in Spanish)
1/31 (Sun) New York City
78 Orchard St.
11:30 – 6:00 pm
Benefits Doctors without Borders
1/24 (Sun) Philadelphia
25 E Street
11:00 am
1/23 (Sat) Akron
21 Furnace St.
11:00-5:00 pm
Benefits Doctors without Borders
1/31 (Sun) Portland
People’s Coop
3029 Southeast 21st Ave.
2:00-5:00 pm
Benefits Mercy Corps
1/24 (Sun) Houston
Mango’s Vegetarian Cafe
403 Westheimer
12:00-4:00 pm
Benefits Food for Life Global and ARCH
More information here and flyer here

1/31 (Sun) Seattle
Neptune Coffee
8415 Greenwood Ave North
2:00-5:00 pm
Benefits Partners in Health
Facebook invite page here.
Washington D.C.
DC Vegans
1/24 (Sun) DC
Takoma Park Farmer’s Market
Carroll Ave & Laurel Ave
10:00-2:00 pm
Facebook Event Page
Benefits Mercy Corps

Peas in a Pod

Well, more like mirroring cows!

Summer and Freedom are six-months old and like to copy whatever the adults are doing. So when they saw Nicholas (2) and Elsa (15) bonding through some head pushing, they had to be just like them!

Pretty cute stuff, huh?
Freedom is on the left - he's a bit more bloated, because he was born with a congenital defect. His tail is missing and his anus is in the wrong spot, which gives him some digestive and pooping problems. Summer is on the right and in really great health.

In the background, Nicholas is on the left - he just turned 2 in December. Elsa, the old lady cow of the herd is 15 and on the right.

Volunteer Orientations

If you are in the Grass Valley/Sacramento/Auburn/Nevada City region and want to help farmed animals, consider joining us at one of our volunteer orientations. If you are a brave Bay Area farmed animal lover, we welcome you too!

Below are the three upcoming orientations. They will be held in Grass Valley, California. The sanctuary will be moving in April and the first orientation occurs at the end of May. We will try and have an orientation each month. In order to volunteer at the sanctuary, you must attend an orientation.

To register for the orientations, click on the links below.

Saturday, May 22nd from 11:30-3:30 pm - Register here
Wednesday, June 16 from 10:00-2:00 pm - Register here
Saturday, July 24th from 11:30-3:30 pm - Register here

The volunteer program at the new sanctuary is a developing one. Volunteers will continue to assist with animal health checks, cleaning, feeding and other animal care duties. Those interested in becoming Education Volunteers will assist and potentially run tours, animal activist workshops, camps, classes and assist with tabling and outreach. There will also be an opportunity to help out with the vegan, community garden we will be growing at the sanctuary.

System Failure

In May of 2008, Santa Cruz County Animal Services confiscated dozens of animals from a live market slaughterhouse. A live-market slaughterhouse is both feedlot and slaughterhouse. They serve a small market, and because the animals are often in poor health, they provide an affordable “product”.

There were hundreds of animals at the facility, mostly pigs, goats and sheep. In total, only 24 of the animals would receive an opportunity to live out the remainder of their lives. Anti-cruelty laws in most states, as they apply to farmed animals, are woefully inadequate. Only the most emaciated, including one downer goat, were saved. The rest are no longer alive. It hurts to think about them.

Read more (will take you to Animal Rights and AntiOppression blog)

Trampoline Loving Pig

How cute is this - a pig who loves jumping on the trampoline! Perhaps we need to install several of these in the pig pastures. After a mid-morning dip in the pig pond, Animal Place porcines can climb up their pig-ready steps and leap out onto their reinforced trampolines (I assume reinforced, having no knowledge on the weight capacity of your standard trampoline, but I guess it's probably less than 800 lbs).

Photo by: Steve Woods/Newsteam

Animal Rights and AntiOppression

A few weeks ago, a new blog was launched called Animal Rights and AntiOppression.

I've been blogging there in addition to here, and I hope you'll find some time to join me and the other wonderful bloggers there.

Here's my most recent post: Vegetarians Who Eat Meat

"A few days ago Deb wrote about the myth of animal consent. How appropriate that Newsweek published an article called “No Sacred Cows”, a veritable how-to for “vegetarians” to feel okay about eating animals."

Read more

Animal Care Manager Position Open

Animal Care Manager
Resident, live-in position

Organization description: Animal Place is a sanctuary for farmed animals and education center for the public. It operates two facilities – a permanent sanctuary in Grass Valley, CA and an adoption center in Vacaville, CA. The headquarters is located on 600-acres in Grass Valley, CA. The adoption center, Rescue Ranch, is on 60-acres in Vacaville, CA (90 miles south/west of Grass Valley).

Job Title: Animal Care Manager for Grass Valley sanctuary.

Job description
1.         Supervise animal caregiver staff, volunteers and interns
2.         Oversee all animal husbandry (health checks, medications, veterinary care)
3.         Assist with all aspects of animal care (cleaning barns, raking pastures, feeding animals)
4.         Help with all miscellaneous farm chores
5.         Fill in during animal rescues and emergencies
6.         Manage inventory and ordering of animal feed, bedding, medical supplies, etc.
7.         Maintain and update animal database and animal care manual
8.         Assist with volunteer training classes and orientations
9.         Help with other sanctuary tasks as needed (e.g. farm tours, information tabling)
10.       Represent Animal Place at conferences and events

1.         Interest in the animal protection movement and promoting veganism
2.         Animal care and handling experience (preferably large animal, but not a      necessity)
3.         Commitment to providing high quality care for resident animals
4.         Good supervisory and leadership skills with pleasant outgoing personality
5.         Ability to handle physically demanding labor and work in an outside environment
6.         Desire to live in the country and work within a strong team environment

Hours/days:  Five-days-a-week. Early morning and some evening work depending upon the season and needs of animals. Flexibility is essential.

Accommodations: Live on sanctuary grounds in a one-bedroom apartment. Rent and utilities provided by Animal Place.

Benefits: Medical Insurance plan; paid holidays; sick leave; 2-weeks vacation per year

Salary:  Dependent upon experience.

Start date: April 2010

How to apply: Send resume and cover letter to: Kim Sturla • Animal Place • 3448 Laguna Creek Trail • Vacaville, CA 95688  •  E-mail: