My husband asked if I'd like to visit Farm Sanctuary in northern California on our 5th wedding anniversary last summer. His sweet suggestion made me think about how well he knows me, and loves me. I'd wanted to visit Farm Sanctuary for years. So off we went. We knew temperatures would rise significantly as we drove, since it's always fairly chilly in San Francisco. And rise they did.
We watched as the thermometer went past 100 degrees fahrenheit, finally settling on 110 by the time we arrived. Despite not being used to the intense heat and having to squint our eyes from the sun, it was a dry heat, and we were excited to meet the locals. Most residents were understandably taking shelter, keeping cool indoors on that incredibly hot day. We wanted to meet them all, but we didn't want to disturb a number of the individuals who were relaxing in various enclosures, so we just stopped in and said a quick hello.
It was wonderful seeing these farm-dwellers being free to choose where they'd like to spend their day. Given the state of drought in California, there was also a deep irony in seeing the luckiest 'farm animals' one can imagine taking shelter from the very heat that is caused by the industry in which they'd have otherwise been enslaved. Somehow, this unbelievable cruelty persists.
But what friends we made. Since we took a tour of the grounds alone, we didn't catch all of their names. We met adorable little Hemingway, a small Saneen goat who just wanted some company. We were very much in love with Hemingway and spent a great deal of time with him. Such a cute little guy! He still comes up in our conversations. We often wonder how he's doing. We were also thrilled to spend quality time with several gorgeous cows. They were so patient and generous with their affection. They're true gentle giants. Each one let us pet them for a long time. I marveled at the softness of those lovely ears.
On that day, on that visit, the most delightful individuals I met were the turkeys. I will never forget the curiosity, kindness and the genuine friendliness with which we were greeted by them. One turkey in particular astounded me. (I wish I knew his name.) His behavior was so welcoming! I was stunned by the warmth he exuded. I'm not sure I was ever welcomed in quite that way, by anyone, before in my life. I hung out with him and talked to him for a while. Turkeys are wonderfully inquisitive and chatty. I was amazed, and in love. I spotted a little goat sitting in the middle of a group of turkeys. That little goat found out how cool turkeys are. He didn't want to miss out!
Having met several joyful, darling turkeys that day, I felt terribly distressed, more than ever before (I've been 100% vegetarian, then vegan, for over two decades now) during the next Thanksgiving holiday. While the Thanksgiving ritual of slaughter was happening, I could only think about how wonderful, smart, and lovely turkeys are––and how very sad it is that so few humans have come to realize this truth. Soon, when Americans celebrate 'freedom' on the 4th of July by eating burgers, I'll think about how beautiful, incredible, and majestic cows are––or how cute and gentle chickens are, how sweet, adorable, smart and social pigs are––and how sad it is that so few of them can enjoy their lives, how very few are living free from terrible fear, pain and strife.
Not long after our visit to Farm Sanctuary, my husband and I and our two tabby kitty girls made a big move from San Francisco to Berlin, Germany. I still think about the friends I made at Farm Sanctuary in Orland, California, and I miss them––which is only natural when you're far away from your friends.