Monday, August 01, 2005

The Animal Place

My assignment and good deed for the weekend was to attend orientation at The Animal Place in Vacaville California. So we get up early so I can tend to my own animal by taking him to the park. Of course, first stop: Starbucks. Me first, you know…

On our way, the traffic looks dismal. Peng is spouting off words my virgin ears have never heard before, people are honking and the temperature is rising – crap. I hate city living sometimes. It’s crowded and invasive.

It takes us over an hour to reach our destination. The road up to The Animal Place is gravelly and quiet. All fields and “mountains” everywhere you look. Aaah…now THIS is living. Peng drops me off to go ride his bike and I’m greeted by a long-haired pony tailed young man. There are about 10 volunteers. 9 of them are women. Why is that? Anyway, we go through brief orientation about rattlesnakes, big animals scuffling, rattlesnakes, hot weather and rattlesnakes. I’m buying those knee-high boots before I go back. Blah blah blah..now we get to tour:

The first stop is 3 little pot-bellied pigs. They are around a year old and only about 20 to 40 pounds. However, when they reach the age of 3 or 4 they can shoot up to 200+ pounds. This is why most of them end up in shelters because they are no longer cute. Pigs are highly intelligent animals. More intelligent than dogs (my dog excluded). Here are the little ones and one of their butt.

Here are the more mature pigs. The Animal Place has about 5 of these pot bellies. They’re more grumpy and they chased off the little piggies, who were following us like puppy dogs. But this was one of the things we were warned about. Some times the larger pigs (about 600 pounds) challenge one another and you don’t want to be in the middle of that. Like they need to tell us we should ‘step back’. Helloooo?

Next stop: Bunny Barn. This place is full of semi-feral rabbits. They gave us lettuce to feed them but they really wouldn’t come near you. Some have been abused so they’re deathly afraid of big people. Sometimes, so am I…

Next stop: Chicken Shack. I love chickens. They’re sweet and non-obtrusive. They had turkeys that had escaped the dinner table in the nick of time but not before our society slices their beaks off with a hot blade. (think this doesn’t hurt them? Think about cutting your fingernail halfway down the nail bed…yeow) Poor thing has to scoop his food just to eat. why, why, why?

There were ducks too that were so sick when they arrived that they literally barfed corn up for days. These ducks were force fed by a tube shoved down their throats to cause their liver to expand 10 times their normal size just to make fois gras. Thankfully, this practice has been banned in 2012 but if I know the human nature they’ll figure out another way to swell these livers up.

And the chickens: the boiler chickens (the ones you typically eat) have been genetically modified to grow at an incredible rate that most of the rescued ones die at about a year old. They have heart attacks or their organs simply give out since it can’t keep up with the growth. In factory farms, they grow so fast that they’re slaughter at about 8 weeks old. A normal chick barely loses their feathers at this age but in the factory farms they’re bred to reach maturity quicker so society doesn’t have to wait for their meat or run out! God forbid!

Off to see the goats and pigs. All these goats came from abuse cases. One goat, Louise, had a leg so severely deformed that U.C. Davis declared it was unfixable. Over time though she would gently try to walk on it and eventually, a miracle made her leg practically normal. The sweet part of this story is goats tend to bond deeply and when the others would go out to the field they would never walk faster than Louise. And when they came back, they would wait for her. And they say animals have no feelings…Here's Louise:

The pigs are scary. They are huge and vocal. I rubbed one down with a block of ice because they have no sweat glands. Like elephants. That’s why they roll in the mud. Not because they’re dirty creatures but because they’re hot. Pigs in the slaughter houses are kept in crates so small they are unable to turn around or barely lay down. If you put a dog in one of these crates the world would cry abuse! But no one blinks an eye to the intelligent pig that has to live its life this way. This guy was lucky...
All of these animals, by the way, were headed for certain death. So the animals you see are ones that were spared.

I believe in my heart that most people would be sad if they saw behind the walls of a factory farm. Most people do have compassion for innocent beings. Most people would cry at the deplorable conditions these sentinel beings have to endure for their entire lives before meeting a horrific and frightening end. Most people don’t want to know about the little lamb or pig or calf that is laying in a dark corner, completely ignored and forgotten about by the world. But I have to believe most people do care. I just wish those same people could care enough to make a difference. Even if everyone cut down his or her meat consumption by 25% it would make a huge difference. You cannot go wrong being compassionate. You just can’t.

Ironically, The Animal Place shares a land border with the local beef farm. Since the tour ended early, I texted Peng and told him I’d walk down the long, windy, dirt road and meet him half way.

On the way down the road, I passed this beef farm. Under a large tree, were about 4 gentle cows, just lounging in the shade, trying to escape the heat. Not knowing that soon they’ll be heading to the place where they will not return.

Send your prayers to these four; they don’t have long…

15 Comments:

Blogger Park Gnome said...

Hmm. Apparently one has to blog about drinking, farting, or hating work to garner comments. There was a butt comment in your blog but even that didn't warrant a quip. I guess that's why we have the government we have.

9:59 PM  
Blogger trish said...

looking at all those pics/pigs makes me homesick...

4:57 AM  
Blogger Tanya Kristine said...

That was funny Peng. Today I'll comment about pooping! that's always a winner with the 'audience' :)

6:47 AM  
Anonymous Bill said...

I try to post funny or sarcastic comments when a flash of brilliance presents itself to me, but there are just no adequate words to express my feelings after reading this. I also am an animal lover (we have four dogs, two cats, and a tetra), but I'm also very much a carnivore. I love a juicy t-bone steak, and pork sausage is my favorite breakfast food. I guess I feel a little guilty about that after reading your post, but I don't want to. I want to keep on eating some animals, and petting and feeding other animals. It's a dilemma, right?

I promise I'll try to have a funny comment on your next "poop" post, though!

8:09 AM  
Blogger Bahee said...

Wow Tanya...you are such an awesome lady!! Your passion inspires me!

9:27 AM  
Blogger Valerie said...

Ahhh man, and I was just about to eat a sausage biscuit. Way to ruin an appetitie Tanya. ;)

I'm kidding girl. You're very inspiring. We need a lot more people like you in the world. But I really can not eat tofu or garden burgers. I'm sorry. But I don't eat at KFC cuz of their cruelity to the chickens. Does that count??? :(

9:56 AM  
Blogger Shananigans said...

You are so awesome and compassionate. But now I'm even more depressed. Between reading that story about the guy in FL beating his 3-year-old son to death for being “gay” and this reminder of all the animal suffering that marches on every day, I want to go hide under a rock and sleep through the day. Also my gums hurt from the dentist. And I’ve had no coffee yet. I better go to Starbucks ASAP. I think I hear my soy vanilla latte calling.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Tanya Kristine said...

Wow...i'm lovin' me right now. thanks to you guys!

one thing i MUST clear up: I love meat. i would sleep in it if i could. a juicy steak brings me to tears and so does bologna and liverwurst; however, i love the life of animals more than my own needs and that's why i choose to not eat meat. IF i could raise my own cow and pig and slaughter it, i would. however, for obvious reasons, i could not. i am going to get my own chickens and steal their eggs...(which will make me feel bad of course...BUT it's better than the eggs that come from battery houses...you wanna see soemthing sad - visit an egg farm)

so eat meat but be sure you know where it's coming from. mcdonalds, taco smell, burger king - that's all Grade D meat. Kody's dog food is better than taht shit. Try whole foods or your local butcher or Trader joes...etc., etc. it's better for YOU and the animals.

anyway, I love pooping too. i will blog about that someday.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Tanya Kristine said...

beating a 3 year old.

now i'd have no problem cookin up THAT guy...that's not cruelty, it's vigilante justice...

11:01 AM  
Blogger tabitha jane said...

my man and i made a pact to buy all our meat and eggs at wild oats or trader joes. not only is it better for the animals but it is better for us too!

11:48 AM  
Blogger ads510 said...

tanya-your compassion for animals is refreshing. i have always felt a kinship with animals myself, and was always more upset if an animal was hurt than if people were. but, i am not as strong as you. i have tried to give up meat several different times only to get VERY sick. I went to the doc and he said that it was because of the lack of meat, and that some people's systems just need meat every once in a while.

And I applaud your efforts at the animal place, I'm sure that was NOT an easy day.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Valerie said...

When I was 7 years old, our family friends owned a ranch. We bough a baby calf and raised him to slaughter him. I named him Dead Fred. He was yummy. So yummy infact, that someone broke into our garage and stole the meat from our meat freezer. Poor Dead Fred. I mss you Fred.

12:35 PM  
Blogger PapaPeters said...

I live in Georgia there is no trader joe's or well anything but regular old meat factories. I also love meat but I don't believe animals should be kept like they are in very unatural habitat. Thanks Tanya for reminding us we all need to make a difference.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Bill said...

As horrible as it is, there's something to be said for ranch raised beef, as far as taste is concerned. I know that doesn't make it right, but there is definitely a difference.

Growing up, my uncle had a small hobby farm out in what used to be rural Damascus, Oregon. He had a couple cows that led the good life, as far as a cow's life goes (no milking, no chores, just graze and wander the small pasture.) He had one of them slaughtered, and sold the meat to a bunch of us relatives at just the cost of the slaughtering. We bought so much beef, we ended having to rent a small locker at a butcher shop in town. I remember feeding cooked hamburger a few times a day to our dog for several months, because it was cheaper than buying even the generic dog food.

The meat was kind of bland, though, and pretty tough, compared to what we would get at the grocery store.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Tanya Kristine said...

and therein lies the key...(are those spelled right?) We need to do away with the factory farms and bring back the smaller farms wehre the cows graze all day, feel teh sun on their back, the breeze in their nostrils, teh way God intended for them to be. not piled together like sardines walking in mud after they've been shot up with hormones and antibiotics. and chickens? in cages piled on top of each otehr shitting on each other losing their feathers from teh stress? chickens are VERY clean...and of course they cannot establish a heirarchy becuase their beaks have been cut off. 99% have never set foot on solid ground...

okay, i must stop now. i'm going to go mad...

4:22 PM  

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