Jun 8, 2020

Rooster Report

Rescued fighting rooster riding the ATV
Rescued fighting rooster riding the ATV

Before I say anything else, let me say that VINE Sanctuary stands in solidarity with protestors around the country and around the world who are standing up against racism and insisting that life means more than property. As an organization devoted to social and environmental justice as well as animal liberation, we have always included anti-racist efforts in our work and will continue to do so.

We do see our efforts on behalf of roosters as especially consistent with struggles for social justice. Roosters are stereotyped, and these sterotypes lead them to be treated with wanton callousness and to be subjected to violence. Stereotypes about nonhuman animals and stereotypes about groups of people interact with one another complexly, often compounding one another. No person of any species will ever be truly free until we have rearranged our minds and remembered our hearts.

Since the last report, our efforts to care and advocate for roosters have been complicated by Covid-19. Nonetheless, we have persisted. Despite having to close the sanctuary to visitors, we did devise protocols to allow roosters in life-threatening situations to be brought to the sanctuary for no-contact drop-offs.

Roosters who have come to the sanctuary since the last update include a group of semi-feral birds seized by authorities from a local farm. We have been heartened to see them be socialized by other birds at the sanctuary and even make friends with members of other species. One has taken to riding on the back of Sugar the friendly ewe. The most touching rescue was when we were contacted by a man who had overheard his neighbor planning to kill an unwanted rooster. He talked his neighbor into refraining from killing the bird until he could look for a home, found us, kept the bird in his home overnight, and then brought the bird to us even though doing so required him to drive to a strange place just as our state was shutting down due to the pandemic.

The pandemic has put out-of-state travel on hold, so I will not be able to travel to other sanctuaries to help them strategize how to be able to take in more roosters until travel becomes more safe. However, we have been able to do remote consultations. We have also helped two local authorities coping with roosters seized from cockfighting figure out how to place rather than euthanize as many roosters as possible.

We know that you too may be struggling due to Covid-19 and/or the upsurge in police violence across the USA. We want to remind you that life at the sanctuary continues as always and to see the sanctuary as a place of refuge for you too. Follow us on social media, where we are doing frequent live streams, to tune into the world beyond the human for a few minutes each day.

Thank you again for supporting The Rooster Project!

Sincerely,

pattrice

Newly-rescued rooster standing on Sugar
Newly-rescued rooster standing on Sugar
Staff member Rachel with her pal Travolta
Staff member Rachel with her pal Travolta

Links:

Feb 7, 2020

Barnyard Buddies

"Cuddle buddies" Jasper the cow and Val the pig
"Cuddle buddies" Jasper the cow and Val the pig

Greetings and thank you again for seeding change by helping to feed animals at VINE Sanctuary!

I hope that you saw the overall 2019 Review for the sanctuary when we shared that on social media. If not, we’ve attached a PDF. We closed out the year with more than 700 animals in residence, having organized or participated in more education and advocacy events than ever before.

None of this would be possible without friends like you. We thought you might like to know about the local folks whose efforts help us to make the most of every dollar you give.

Last Friday, our hay supplier stopped by with a bill and some good news: He got a bargain on bulk baling supplies and decided to pass all of the savings along to us by cutting our price per bale by 10%! Since hay is our largest single outlay, after payroll for our hard-working animal care team, that will be a substantial savings.

The local feed store also helps out by giving us a bulk discount and by donating any “broken bags” (sacks of feed torn in shipping) to the sanctuary.

As part of its “zero waste” efforts, a local grocery store donates big crates of wilted and dented produce twice each week. In addition to saving money, this adds joyful and nutritious variety to the diets of sanctuary residents, who gather around each delivery day, eager to see what surprises might emerge from the crates. (It’s pretty fun to see a cow eating a pineapple!)

One of our volunteers also drives for a “Meals on Wheels” program that delivers fresh produce to low-income seniors and people with disabilities twice monthly. After each run, their own rules say that they must dispose of any produce likely to go bad before the next run. With their permission, that volunteer brings that produce to the sanctuary, so that it will not be wasted.

So, you can see, you really are part of a whole community of generosity in your support for the animals at VINE Sanctuary!

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations this year, we aim to scale up several of our most effective projects. I’ll tell you more about those projects in another update, but I do want to share one piece of great news: We’ve already managed to add an additional school to our “Barnyard Buddies” program that allows classes to visit to virtually “adopt” sanctuary residents, receiving monthly humane education lessons. In this way, children who may never visit a sanctuary still can learn about and develop empathy for farmed animals.

Thank YOU for being a "barnyard buddy" by supporting the sanctuary!

Sincerely,

pattrice

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Feb 6, 2020

Meet the Rooster Who Started It All

Viktor
Viktor

Greetings and thank you again for supporting The Rooster Project at VINE Sanctuary!

I hope that you saw the overall 2019 Review for the sanctuary when we shared that on social media. If not, you can see it here. As always, we took in many roosters ourselves, helped other sanctuaries to solve rooster problems, helped people wanting to surrender roosters to figure out how to keep them, and helped humane authorities care for and place roosters seized from cockfighting.

We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, and so I thought that you might like to “meet” the rooster who started it all, since his legacy lives on in The Rooster Project.

In late January or early February of 2000, Miriam Jones and I found an escapee from the local poultry industry in a ditch by the side of the road in rural Maryland. We brought her home and grew close to her as we got to know her. And then she started crowing.

That was a surprise because this bird was not at all the stereotypical cocky and aggressive rooster. That started us thinking about why those stereotypes exist and how they are transmitted from generation to generation, a topic that we have been writing and speaking about ever since.

We knew that this rooster, now called Viktor, was lonely. So, we called the local humane society to tell them that we would take in any chickens other people found on the road. (Chickens regularly jump or fall from trucks headed for the slaughterhouse.) Within a week of that call, Viktor was joined by Violet and Chickweed.

When he met them, he was so excited that he didn’t know what to do. He strutted, he posed, he clucked, he crowed. Eventually, even though he was only a few months older than the newcomers, Viktor became a sort-of single parent to the scared brother and sister, instructing and scolding them as he showed them around the grounds.

Viktor demonstrated the depth of his devotion to the youngsters when we brought them into the house for a couple of days to allow Chickweed to heal from a minor injury. For each of those days, Viktor stood rooted to the spot where he’d last seen them, staring at the door. We had to lure him to eat and force him to go to bed at night.

In the intensity and richness of Viktor’s relationships with Violet and Chickweed, he again demonstrated that the popular portrayals of roosters were both simplistic and false. In his own devotion to his sister, Chickweed also defied stereotypes.

The next birds to arrive were three adult escapees from a “broiler breeder” facility, including Rosa and Che. Viktor fell in love with Rosa at first sight, and she liked him too. Che also adored Rosa, and she liked him too. Viktor and Che were friends, united in their care for Rosa rather than competing for her affection. This, again, was different behavior than the stereotypes would suggest.

As so many of the big white birds bred by the poultry industry do, Che first lost the use of his legs and then died suddenly of a heart attack. Che had been the caretaker of his group, and he continued to extend care to others even after he could no longer walk, lifting his large wings to shelter younger arrivals to the sanctuary.

Viktor visited with Che daily while he was disabled. On the morning after Che’s death, Viktor walked to the spot where Che had died and made the saddest sound I had ever heard.

So, you can see why we never believed the other big myth about roosters, which is that they cannot co-exist without fighting. As time went by, we met more and more roosters who taught us more and more things, including a colorful group of 24 (including several former fighters) who all moved in at the same time. But it all started with one rooster, whose wish for companionship led to the creation of a sanctuary and whose loving behavior toward other birds (including other roosters) immediately challenged us to challenge the myths about roosters.

Because of this history, The Rooster Project has a special place in my heart, so I thank you very sincerely for your support of this ongoing effort. As part of our 20th anniversary this year, we hope to scale up this project in Viktor’s memory. I’ll look forward to telling you more about that in the next update.

Sincerely,

pattrice

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