Nov 8, 2019

Feed the Change Update

Saorise
Saorise

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

The flocks and herds at the sanctuary have gained many new members since our last update:

Nearly 100 “spent” hens who had been discarded by a factory-like egg facility joined the flocks in the part of the sanctuary we call “the valley.”

Thirty of the large white roosters and hens bred by the poultry industry moved into the special coop and yard reserved for vulnerable birds like them. Our Anna was part of the rescue team that saved them and hundreds of others.

The wild young cow we call Saorise came to the sanctuary after repeatedly escaping from the farm where she had witnessed the killing of her mother and brother. Another young cow, Izaak Mooton, came to the sanctuary after the person who had rescued him from a dairy was unable to care for him.

As always, hens and especially roosters arrived at the sanctuary singly, in pairs, and in small groups after being rescued or surrendered by people unable to care for them.

We’ve also been busy with the education and advocacy work that is rooted in our on-site care for our nonhuman community members. We’ve had three more monthly meetings of our Pasture Pals humane education for local youth. The special Halloween edition of Pasture Pals was especially well-attended.

Within Vermont, I gave one “Lunch and Learn” talk on the plight of farmed animals to volunteers, staff, and supporters of a rural humane society; presented a lecture on solving social problems by repairing our relationships (including our relationships with “nature” and animals) as part of a “Tend the Root” workshop series on personal transformation for ecological transition; and facilitated a discussion on “Repairing Our Relationships with the More-than-Human World” as part of the “Out in the Open Summit” for rural LGBTQ+ people. Some participants in that summit also made a “field trip” to VINE.

We also presented another workshop in our veganic gardening series — this one on seed saving—at our local public library. Further afield, I gave a lecture on “Queering Animal Liberation” at Rhode Island College. While that talk was not taped, you can watch this video of a similar lecture last year.

Everything we do is rooted in the everyday care and feeding of the more than 600 animals at the sanctuary. We couldn’t do that without you. Thank you again for your support! If you’ve not yet done so, please do consider signing up to make a monthly contribution or using the sharing tools provided by Global Giving to encourage your own social circle to donate.

Izaak Mooton
Izaak Mooton
Hens from egg facility on their 1st day outside
Hens from egg facility on their 1st day outside
Kaporos survivors on their 1st day outside
Kaporos survivors on their 1st day outside

Links:

Nov 4, 2019

Meet Sparky

Greetings and thank you again for your support of The Rooster Project! For this report, I thought you might enjoy meeting one of the roosters rescued as a part of the project.

The young rooters I call Sparky lives in “the green yard” (so called because the coop is painted green, but it’s also very verdant) with several other roosters and three times as many hens. He spends his days socializing with a group of semi-feral hens who were rescued together from a breeder of birds for cockfighting. Together, they forage in the weedy brush and perch on the branches of a fallen tree. At night, they retreat together to the coop, where they roost to sleep on simulated tree branches attached to the wall. Sparky neither likes nor dislikes the other roosters who share his coop and yard—if they don’t bother him, he doesn’t bother them.

But Sparky wasn’t always so easy-going. He came to the sanctuary with his mother as a chick after they both were seized from a breeder of birds for cockfighting. Along with another hen and her chick also rescued from that facility, Sparky and his mother moved into a small coop and yard reserved for elder, juvenile, and disabled birds.

Most hens are fiercely protective of their chicks, but Sparky’s mother Ion was particularly ferocious in defending him from every perceived threat. When he reached adolescence, Sparky began starting fights with the other chick, who also turned out to be a rooster. Sparky then moved on to attacking adults, including an elderly rooster with only one eye.

Sparky had been a downy chick when he came to the sanctuary. He was raised by his mother in safe surroundings with plenty of food for all. He grew up in a flock within which several adult roosters lived peacefully together, so he had plenty of opportunities to learn the social skills by which roosters can solve conflicts without fighting. No injuries or ailments could explain his combative behavior. We tried moving him to another yard, but he easily flew over fences to rejoin his mother. Sparky seemed franticly fearful during his brief times away from his mother, but as soon as he was back with her he began attacking others.

If we didn’t know better, we might have mistaken this behavior for some sort of in-born aggressiveness. After all, stereotypes say that roosters are inherently bellicose. But we know better than that. It’s certainly true that the birds used in cockfighting are genetically indistinguishable from the wild junglefowl of South Asia. Less “domesticated” than other chickens, they seem to have retained the high-strung nervous systems of wild birds who must always be on the alert for potential predators.

Judging from his mother Ion’s behavior, Sparky probably did inherit such a nervous system. If so, that might mean that his attacks were more about fear than aggression. Sparky also observed his mother behaving aggressively, and this might have had a stronger effect on him than watching the other birds in the yard, including the other roosters, get along.

We hated to separate them, but we could not allow him to hurt others. We decided to use a modified version of our rooster rehabilitation protocol to acclimate Sparky to an adjoining yard, so that he and Ion would still be able to hear each other and know that each other were well. To acclimate Sparky to his new digs, we decided to try a modified version of the rooster rehabilitation protocol. We used the same spacious sleeping cage inside the coop and outdoor kennel centrally located in the yard that we would use if rehabilitating a former fighter. We could not, as we usually would do, let him go free several times each day because he immediately flew out of the yard and over to his former yard. Instead, we focused on helping him to feel comfortable within what would become his new community.

Since the hens in that yard are in and out of the coop all day, we sometimes set him up with food and water within the (quite spacious) indoor cage during the day instead of taking him out to his outdoor exercise area. This gave him time to really get to know several of the hens without having to interact with or even see the roosters, who tend to stay outside all day. Only after he seemed to have established solid friendships with those hens did we try letting him out each morning, ready to intervene if he started a fight.

For the first few mornings, Sparky did start fights, from which we rescued him, but he was no longer fixated on flying back to the other yard to rejoin his mother. We also noticed that his fight-starting seemed nervous rather than domineering, so we tried waiting until after the initial hubbub of opening died down before allowing him out.

That did the trick! He behaved well all day that first day out, retreating into the weeds to be alone when he felt overwhelmed, and then taking himself to bed by roosting next to familiar hens that night. He hasn’t caused any trouble since. Quite the contrary: Sparky is now a vital member of the community and recently helped to welcome survivors of a factory-like egg facility to the sanctuary. Just this morning, I saw him escorting some of them to one of his favorite foraging spots.

Thank you again for your support of The Rooster Project, through which we will continue to rescue roosters while sharing the knowledge that allowed us to find a solution for Sparky.

Sincerely,

pattrice

P.S. I do think that Sparky inherited hyper-vigilance from his mother Ion. He’s very hard to photograph because he disappears into the brush as soon as he senses that he is the focus of attention. He is literally invisible in many of the photos I tried to take of him today, which led me to a better understand of how multicolored feathers can be a kind of camouflage. I did manage to get two photos in which he is visible, and I hope you enjoy them.

Links:

Aug 9, 2019

Feed the Change Update

Fred and George
Fred and George

Greetings and THANK YOU for seeding change by helping to feed animals at VINE Sanctuary.

Over time, we hope to use this campaign on GlobalGiving to fund all of our annual feed costs at the sanctuary. We've still got a long way to go, but we wanted to let you know what's been happening at the sanctuary since we launched this campaign in May.

On-site at the sanctuary, we welcomed a large group of hens, along with one rooster, who had been seized by authorities from a breeder of birds for cockfighting. We also welcomed a group of roosters from a hatching project. As always, birds arrived singly and in pairs or trios from a variety of situations. (Mammals arrive less frequently, but somebody new may be arriving soon.)

Probably the most notable new residents are Fred and George Weasley, red-feathered twin turkeys who were rescued locally. Always side-by-side, they shadow sanctuary staff and visitors alike, constantly curious. It seems likely that they will soon step up to become tour guides, greeting and accompanying guests.

Shasta the undersized cow, who arrived earlier in the year, had a health scare when the vet detected a cardiac abnormality. One visit to a veterinary cardiologist later, we were relieved to learn that the abnormality is not as grave as it first seemed but may be partly responsible for her size (she looks like a calf even though she is a young adult). Shasta has also been adopted by elderly Autumn, whose adopted son Gemini just turned a year old.

Also on-site, our summertime children's program, Pasture Pals, has resumed and will continue to meet monthly into the autumn. This free program includes humane education lessons that teach values such as respecting differences. Each session also age-appropriate volunteer projects, so that participants learn that care for others is something you do, not just something you feel.

All sanctary visitors, whether attendees of our public days, participants in volunteer days for campus and community groups, or residents of nearby group homes who find it soothing to spend time in our leafy surrounds, do the same: help out in some way, so that they truly become part of our community rather than coming to look at or pet our nonhuman community members. Besides showing respect for the animals in residence, this gives people the opportunity to experience the healing effects of altruism.

Our other recent local educational events included a workshop on veganic gardening held in conjunction with the new seed library that we sponsor at our local public library and our annual "Eat the Rainbow" vegan potluck held during Pride Month. We tabled at numerous festivals here in Vermont and around New England, and I spoke at two VegFests in New Hampshire. Further afield, I delivered the Val Plumwood Memorial Lecture at the annual conference of the Australasian Animal Studies Association and our volunteer Julia delivered a talk at the annual Compassionfest event in Connecticut. At the recent Animal Rights National Conference in DC, Anna tabled and gave a presentation on humane education while I spoke about cockfighting, queering animal liberation, and confronting our own speciesism as well as moderated panels on sanctuary ethics and making connections between movements.

All of these off-site activities were rooted in the day-to-day life of our sanctuary community, which inspires people around the world. Speaking about our humane education programs at AR2019, Anna told the stories of young Gemini and his adopted mother Autumn, both discarded by dairies. In my talk about cockfighting at that conference (which you can read here), I noted that everything I know about roosters I learned from roosters — including the things that allowed us to imagine a method for rehabilitating roosters that is now used around the country and around the world. At Compassionfest, Julia shared some of the things we have learned from sheep. (You can read that here.) Speaking in New Zealand, I began by asking conference participants to imagine themselves being greeted skeptically by ducks at the sanctuary. (You can watch that talk here.) Later that day, I had the amazing experience of hearing an artist in Australia who has organized truly creative protests against duck hunting tell me that, even though she has never visited and probably never will, VINE lives in her imagination as a source of inspiration.

You made that possible. Everything we do is rooted in the daily care and feeding of sanctuary residents, and we cannot do that without the support of our wider community of donors. When you buy a bag of sunflower seeds or a bale of hay, you not only feed animals but also help to seed change.

Thank you again for that! If you've not yet signed up to make an automatic monthly donation, you can sign up right here. And if you'd like to feel part of it all, please do like and follow the sanctuary on Facebook and Twitter, where we post photos and other news almost every day.

Sincerely,

pattrice

Gemini, Autumn, and Shasta
Gemini, Autumn, and Shasta
Just a few of the new roos
Just a few of the new roos

Links:

 
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