There is an amazing feeling when you park up at a vegan event and as you walk through the lot, you notice almost every car has a vegan or animal related bumper sticker. It sounds like a pretty simple thing but I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me! What can I say, I am easily pleased. I suppose it is a welcome reminder that there are people out there who care for animals as much as I do; on occasion it is easy to forget this.
So we were off to a good start! The farm itself is breathtaking; everywhere you look is this lush, gorgeous greenery with really well maintained barns and perfectly set out pathways to each section of the sanctuary. Everywhere was so clean and picturesque, on first impressions, it’d be hard to imagine so many animals lived there!
First off, we headed up to the pig barn. I don’t know if I recall ever looking a happy pig in the face before but I was blown away at the emotion you can see in their eyes. We approached the fence and immediately two adorable pigs came plodding over and stood right on the other side so I could reach my hand through the gap and stroke their cute little heads. We visited the other pigs and it was such a hot day, most of them were just chilling in the mud or shady patches of hay and I don’t blame them! Even just watching them sleep warmed my heart, knowing what circumstances they came from. The mere fact they can sleep in peace with no fear is enough to thaw even the coldest of hearts.
So after we had spent some time with the pigs, we decided it was beer ‘o’ clock and went over to the Smart Beer table. They are the first vegan, organic brewery in New York and they did not disappoint. I had their Golden Ale and my husband had the IPA. I actually don’t particularly like beer, I am more of a cider person generally, but this stuff was awesome! We would have had more too, if they hadn’t sold out. They were really friendly, we had a bit of a chat about the event at the beer table and bumped into the founder again later on, when he was hanging out with some goats! So if you get the chance, definitely check these guys out.
Conveniently, the beer table was right in front of the chicken pens. So we swiftly moved on to have a chicken meet ‘n’ greet. It was lovely to see them all huddled under trees and other shaded areas to keep cool. To be honest, I could watch them cluck and strut about all day. They had so much space and looked so comfortable, even on such a hot day. A couple of them had even burrowed themselves away in holes in the ground, as you can see in the image to the left. They bobbed around too much for me to get a better picture, unfortunately, but they were so lovely to watch.
So our next stop was the Cinnamon Snail food truck. The line was long and had been all day but we felt it was gonna be worth the wait and oh boy, was it! We ordered the Beast burger (of course), BBQ seitan, grilled tofu and a rhubarb & blueberry donut. All of it was insanely good and despite having way too much food for just 2 people, we ate all of it in one sitting.
Before devouring his beast burger, my husband took the obligatory food selfie and he won a Woodstock competition with it! Which brings me to the next part of our adventure – ice cream! My husband was lucky enough to win a free ice cream cup from Like No Udder and I am lucky enough to have a husband that doesn’t really like ice cream. As we were actually going to be getting ice cream as soon as we’d finished our Snail food anyway, this was a very welcome bonus. The ice cream was AMAZING. It had a melted marshmallow kinda vibe to it, both in texture and taste which was rather delightful. It was just so nice to be able to dig in to a soft serve ice cream from an ice cream truck again! Before that day, I had never really had the opportunity to do so, since becoming vegan, so I would highly recommend these guys if vegan ice cream is your thing (or even if it’s not!). They travel to various events throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut, in their trusty food truck ‘Betsy Loo’ but also have a brick and mortar in Providence, RI.
After we’d eaten, we headed over to the cow pen and there were two beauties enjoying the attention from some fellow event goers. We stood and watched these majestic creatures lapping up the petting and the stroking for a while and then it was our turn. I’ve never stroked a cow, not as far as I can remember anyway and so I was pretty excited. Lucky for us, one of the cows took an interest in having a head stroke and was so docile and content. It was difficult not to think about the abysmal circumstances so many of these gentle, innocents are still going through, at the very moment we were finishing up ice creams and getting pictures with the lucky ones who made it to a sanctuary. I asked my husband how he felt about petting a cow (despite being veggie, he is not as much of an animal person as me) and he described his encounter. Despite him being a little nervous to get that close to such a large animal, having never done it before, he pushed through and had his moment with this gentle giant. He explained that once he and the cow became more comfortable with each other, his mind turned from the immediate experience with this individual cow, to the cows who were not so lucky to end up in a sanctuary. We both agreed that, animal lover or not, being up close to a liberated and now safe animal, who could easily have become another victim to the food industry, definitely deepens a person’s connection to animals on a more emotional level.
Once the cows had had enough of us and wanted to meet some more new people, we moved on to meet some goats. I’ve got to admit, goats are an animal I have always had a special place in my heart for, even as a child, so the opportunity to hang out with some goats again was one I was really excited about. We approached the fence where there were 2 goats loitering not too far from us. They didn’t come over to us, so we respected their space and just watched from afar as they cooled themselves in the shade and looked at us inquisitively. Now would be a great time to mention something I loved about this event; Although there were hundreds of people, obviously wanting to spend time with each of these lovely little personalities, the animals always had a choice as to whether or not they wanted to get involved. It was up to them whether they approached you at the fence or stayed away for some privacy. This is what is so nice about an establishment such as this, the animals always come first. It’s not about impressing visitors or providing the perfect photo opportunities; it’s about these animals representing the billions of other animals out there that are not given this choice in a way that is non exploitative and completely on the animal’s terms. So we moved along to another goat pen and there were quite a few goats lining the fence, happily basking in the attention of Woodstock visitors. We approached the fence and started to scratch the heads of the ones who were willing and it was a beautiful experience. As you can see from the photo, this little guy loved a good chin scratch! They were so affectionate and their cheeky little faces just make my heart melt but it was deeply saddening to see the affects of disbudding left behind on some of them. At least there is some comfort for these ones, in that they are safe to live out their lives free of mutilation and suffering.
As our last stop, before having to head home, we stopped by the barn holding some more goats, sheep and I managed to get a sneak peek at an alpaca through the gate, who is called Dolly, but she was busy keeping to herself in the sunshine! There were a few sanctuary volunteers in the barn who were friendly, informative and obviously had great bonds with these animals. I am sorry I did not get their names but they were absolutely lovely. They told us all about the different personalities of the goats and sheep we were admiring and telling us a bit about what it is like to volunteer at Woodstock Sanctuary. It has definitely inspired me to finally start volunteering with rescued farm animals!
After learning about the lives of goats, it seemed to be feeding time. It was funny to watch how excited the animals got as they anticipated dinner time, much like my two dogs at home would behave. So we watched for a little while and then thought we would leave them to it and head home.
So it really was an all around great day. The sanctuary is beautiful, the food was amazing, all the staff & volunteers were friendly and welcoming. As well as being home to so many rescued animals, they also don’t forget where these animals came from. At each pen, there was information about what animals go through in animal agriculture. They even have a pig gestation crate on show, to reiterate just how these poor animals are kept. So whilst it is amazing to be able to connect with the residents, it is also so important to remember just why they had to be rescued in the first place, especially for those who may still contribute to these industries; education is paramount.
Logistically, it was a breath of fresh air to go to an event benefitting animals that was so well organised, whilst being able to uphold a relaxing, laid back feel. It was a fantastic opportunity to connect with some awesome animals and I would 100% recommend visiting Woodstock, if you haven’t done so already. They carry out tours of the farm on weekends, so it doesn’t need to be an event in order for you to visit. See animals happy, safe and looked after in an environment they deserve whilst taking in the beautiful landscape and showing support for the millions of animals put to death every day at the hands of humans. If you don’t live near Woodstock, no problem! Look for a farm sanctuary closer to you and pay them a visit some day.
You can see my full photo album of the day by clicking here!