Trucks start arriving in earnest at 6am, so any morning trip out of town results in passing the incoming convoys. That morning, taking my old dog-friend to the veterinarian in Peoria, I counted 9 trucks heading in, around 1800 pigs in total, holding my hand up in a feeble gesture of witness and saying aloud, "I see you" which has become my custom, likely for my own sake, more than that pink-grey apparitions swaying behind the metal slats.
Much of my adult life has been spent in learning about and participating in farmed animal advocacy. I grew up in the mitten-shaped state of Michigan, where the annual 4-H fair taught me the few things I knew about farm animals as a teenager. Many of my classmates raised and sold farm animals in order to pay for college and there were numerous Amish communities nearby. So I was surrounded by that unspoken and unquestioned foundation accepting animal use so prevalent in rural, farming communities.
After putting myself through undergraduate and graduate school in fits and starts, along with a career in muscle therapy, I decided to move my peripheral interest in animal ethics to the center of my life, and relocated to southern California to pursue a Ph.D. Not long after landing, I leafleted with a volunteer from Vegan Outreach at massive summer concerts such as Snoop Dogg, Green Day, and No Doubt and soon after took a job as the Outreach Coordinator in Southern California for the organization. For the next 18 months, I traveled to 90+ college campuses from Bakersfield to San Diego distributing information on factory farming, often buoyed by the thoughtful engagement of students coming to awareness about the realities of industrial agriculture.