Meeting the Animals

Our Family Portrait + Timmy & Beatrice

We really wanted to introduce our son Luke to the animals that we are so passionate about not eating. So this summer we made two trips to farm animal sanctuaries a few hours from here: Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and Catskill Animal Sanctuary.

In late August, we took a drive up to Woodstock, New York to volunteer at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. We were told that because our son is only 3, that we would primarily have the opportunity to clean the chicken coops. But as it turns out, we had way more fun than that!

When we arrived, we were met by the farm manager, Jerve, and two turkeys, Timmy and Beatrice. Timmy is a gigantic, colorful turkey who took a liking to our son and followed him everywhere.

Timmy the Turkey

We had our choice of poop: chicken, pig, or goat. We went right for the pigs because we know how much they love to get their bellies rubbed. We each got a rake, a small one for Luke, and we started raking the hay of out of the pig pens and clearing our their poops. These pigs are enormous and just watched as we made their area tidy. Pigs don’t poop where they sleep and so they just hung out until we were done. Then, we went right in to rub their bellies. Little Dude was our favorite. He literally rolls onto his side and smiles with ecstasy!

Little Dude

Next up, were the chickens. It was our job to give them water. My husband and son filled up the water bucket, went into each coop, and poured water into their dishes. The chickens were very curious and  completely unfazed by new people in their coops.

Giving the chickens water 
The chickens

Then we got to play with two baby piggies. These little guys were the cutest animals I have ever seen ! They ran around and rolled in the mud. They let us pet them but were much more into running around than they were into us.

The baby piggies

Finally, we raked out the goat’s barn. I made a big pile of straw that I was supposed to put onto the tractor but one of the goats decided it was his new seat.

The goat on the hay

All in all, we had a great day. We worked hard and met some really curious, friendly, happy, free animals.

Last month, we paid visit to Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, New York. On this trip were were VIPs, since we became members of CAS and slept overnight at the homestead. We woke up bright and early and headed down to the farm to check out the animals.

We were greated by the farm manager, Kathy, and the sanctuary’s most friendly animal, a turkey named Jailbird. He had beautiful turquoise tail feathers and a bright blue head, which, it turns out, changes color with his mood. This turkey was a real people lover. Then we met our tour guide Rebecca for some quality time with the animals.


First we fed the blind horse fresh grass. Luke got such a kick out of the horse eating right out of his hand. Then we visited the pigs, and just like at the Woodstock, these guys are ready for a belly rub! So we obliged, of course.

Feeding the blind horse
The pigs

Next up, we toured the big barn. To get a feel for this place, if you can’t go, is to read founder Kathy Steven’s book, Where the Blind Horse Sings. This book is unlike any I have ever read; the stories Kathy tells about the spirit of these animals is so touching.

In the main barn, we met Lambert, a new sheep who recently joined CAS. Two other big sheep were pushing him out of the way and he was not able to get to the haystack. Luke intervened and pulled hay for Lambert and fed him. Rebecca, our guide, was very impressed at how easily Luke approached the animals and his calm demeanor.


There were three brand new calves who were rescued just a few days before on their way to becoming veal . They were in quarantine due to their condition, so we did not get to see them, but how lucky were to be taken care of by the sanctuary, having midnight and 2am feedings, and being nurtured back to health.

We saw ducks, geese, chickens, roosters, and bunnies.

But our favorite: Dozer. This 6,000lb. cow was the start of the show. A big, lumbering, sweet-as-pie cow, Dozer came right up to the fence to talk to us. We let him lick our hands and we scratched his neck to help with the flies. This guy then leaned his head all the down to Luke’s height to get a good look. The two of them had their moment.

 Dozer kissing Rebecca
 Dozer ready for his close-up
 Dozer licking my hand. His tongue felt like thick sandpaper!
New friends
Two really great family outings at two sanctuaries doing amazing work. If you can’t go to a sanctuary, check out the websites, read the stories, and watch the videos. I promise you, it will change your life!

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