We took the first tour of the day. I was happy to see a large number of people on the tour with us, even several families. We started our tour in the main building, which includes educational information, a kid’s information corner, and the gift shop.
The educational video that we watched to begin our tour also discussed some of the horrors that animals face in the factory farming system.
Ben, our tour guide, also gave us a lot of in-depth information about factory farming and the conditions in which animals are raised and then slaughtered for food. For example, did you know that a lot of the beef that is sold in grocery stores is from a dairy cow that can no longer be impregnated and give milk? The dairy cows are in a continuous cycle of being artificially impregnated to produce milk. Also, calves are taken from their mother usually within the first few hours of their life. The female calves are turned into dairy cows, and the males are generally raised and then slaughtered early for veal. It sounds like such a horrible life, even more so after meeting the cows at the sanctuary. The majority of the cows at the sanctuary were used in the dairy industry. Each one of them has a different personality, a different way of expressing affection towards, not only us but also the other cows in the barn. Two of the cows I interacted with seemed to be best buds. They were very protective of each other.
After meeting the cows, we went to visit the goats. Meeting the goats was one of my favorite parts of the tour. All of the goats wanted extra attention! They made sure we knew which parts of their backs and butts they wanted to have scratched. They also gave us loving head-butts. It reminded me of when George, one of my cats, head-butts me as a way of showing his affection. I read that cats do this as a way to say they love you. I imagined the goats were giving us a similar message. As we were leaving the barn, all of the goats stood up and escorted us out and acted like they wanted to come along on our adventure. One goat pressed himself against me as we walked and he let me scratch his head the entire way.
The tour ended, and we were allowed to stroll around the grounds. We went to visit Hilda’s final resting place and paid our respects to her and the inspiration she gave to the founders. It was wonderful getting to know the resident cows, goats, turkeys, and pigs. The stories of their survival are heartbreaking, but ones that need to be told and heard. They are a few of the lucky ones who were able to be rescued and live their lives in the comfort of the sanctuary and their caregivers.
I highly recommend visiting a farmed animal sanctuary in your area. You can do a quick Google search to find the closest one to you, or look on the Farm Animal Sanctuary Directory provided by Vegan.com. It can be one of the most eye-opening, inspirational, and fun experience you will have.