Almost 2 months ago, I contacted the Happy Herd farm in Aldergrove, BC to see if I could arrange a visit to meet their animals. Because it is a Not For Profit farm, run by a couple in retirement (Diane and Stephen) and their volunteers, visit times were limited and I had to wait patiently for my turn.
Essentially, a farm sanctuary is a place where animals who have been rescued from either abuse or slaughter get to live out their lives and none of it is for profit.
This past Saturday, me and my boyfriend Eric finally got to visit the farm and I just wanted to share some photos that we took during our visit! Okay, none of us are great photographers, but in any case, here are some of my favourites:
First of all, the male turkeys, Larry and Mo, were adorable! They were a little scary to look at at first – their heads look pretty gross when they are up close and it makes you wonder why they haven’t evolved to become better looking. But the two of them would follow us around, walking slowly, side by side. Every time I turned around, I would see them right there. They were the most chill and calm individuals on the farm – like two old best friends, eyeing newcomers with curiosity.
We spent a lot of time with the goats because they really like humans and just wanted our attention. One goat headbutted Diane playfully as we talked. Others licked us and chewed on our shoelaces, all while casually producing pellets from their bums. They all had their own little homes and played with everything in sight, like a bunch of children!
Sadly I don’t have a photo of the two sheep that also live on the farm. Whenever we got close, they would walk away. Diane told us that one of them came from an industrial farm and hence had her tail cut off. She did not know the exact story but we knew that the sheep’s trust in humans was pretty much zero to none.
That’s the donkey on the farm named Baby. He’s best friends with Lucy, a 4 year old , 475 lb pig and they sleep next to each other!
And the ever so adorable piglets. They were born in mid-August but have grown so much since! Here’s an article showing you just how cute they were when they were first born. To me, there is no difference anymore between a dog and a pig. I loved how the pigs rolled over for belly rubs and just ran around sniffing the ground. They would bother their mom while she was sleeping, and run over when you called them (only when Diane did of course).
Ah and the chickens. There were so many different types of chickens on the farm and the cutest ones were the silkie chickens but I couldn’t capture one with my camera. If you do a quick google search, you’ll know what I mean. I learned that they are prized in Asia for their black bones and black skin. I may have had a silkie before but I’m not sure.
I came to the Happy Herd Farm for 2 reasons. First, I wanted to personally bond with the animals that I used to eat without a second thought and remind myself of why I no longer purchase or eat animal products. Second, I wanted my partner to also see what kind of lives these animals could be living, instead of being raised and slaughtered in a factory after living only a tiny fraction of their lives.
This visit definitely did make an impact on him, since he told me a day later that although he still doesn’t think it’s wrong to eat animals, he doesn’t believe they should be abused and in fact he feels very upset when he thinks about it. I think all of my friends would agree with this. Why cause more suffering than necessary? However what IS the ‘best’ and ‘most ethical’ way to raise a farm animal?
If you’ve read my post about why I stopped eating meat, then you probably have a good idea already of why. Up until 5 months ago, I looved eating meat because I didn’t bother to think about how it got onto my plate. I loved hosting pork belly BBQs and I stayed away from vegetarians thinking they were boring.
But once I learned that:
- Industrial chickens get their beaks cut off to prevent them from pecking each other to death in the closed quarters we force them into,
- Mother cows are ripped away from their babies, artificially inseminated to continue providing milk to humans their whole lives,
- Male piglets have their privates torn off of them without any painkillers, and all pigs are pretty much kept in filthy, feces infested, cramped quarters even though they naturally would build cozy comfortable nests for themselves, and
- Cows are dehorned and castrated without any painkillers, and hung by a chain by one leg while they have their throats slit and blood drained, while conscious,
I cried and never looked at meat the same way again. No words can properly describe the terrible pain and torture that industrially farmed animals have to endure so I suggest that you do your own research and see it for yourself. At first I thought that I would just eat ‘ethically farmed’ meat. However, now I have simply lost the desire to consume any animals at all and it is a huge surprise to everyone that knows me.
If I do not have the heart to kill the animal myself then I won’t eat it. If you can, then that’s your personal choice.
In our modern society, we have become so far removed from nature and animals that we no longer know what the animals we eat look like. Everything is so conveniently set up so that we don’t have to think about where our food comes from. We never think about how the large farm trucks that are driving next to us on the highway might be full of terrified and cramped up animals. Once upon a time in 1790, farmers made up 90 percent of the US workforce, and now they make up around 1 percent. (Source) Isn’t that interesting and haunting at the same time?
I will never ever dislike or blame someone for eating animal meat – all my closest friends and family eat meat. But I wish to gently urge everyone to learn about where their food comes from and not eat blindly. Those large food corporations who benefit from your purchases do not want you to think.
They need robot consumers, not thinkers.
For example, why is there a happy looking cow playing a guitar on the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream container? Did the mother cow happily give up her milk to humans instead of her own babies?
Actually, this does not just apply to food. I would advise anyone reading this to unlearn what you’ve been told to be true and look at the world again with a clean slate. I mean, people once thought black slavery was the norm…
Be curious about the world!