How Farm Sanctuaries Rescued Me

The general mission statement for Farm Sanctuaries all around the country, falls along the lines of promoting veganism through education by saving farm animals and showing compassion to all living beings.  As a contributor to three separate farm sanctuaries, I can assure any skeptics, that these mission statements are truer than any school, corporation, and big non-profit missions I have come across.

A “Peaceful world rooted in respect and justice for all living beings;” are the exact words from Woodstock Farm Sanctuary’s website.  Farm sanctuaries live by these principles and it does not only extend to farm animals, but to all animals (human and non-human).  And I can prove it.

Let me briefly start with the story of why Kristen (my wife) and I needed farm sanctuaries more than they needed us.

Last year, my wife and I suffered the loss of a loved one, which sent us both into a downward spiral of grief and depression.  While this tragedy brought my wife and I closer together as we fought on and supported one another, it unfortunately caused some other relationships in our lives to weaken.   We lost hope in the world, and did not know what could possibly make smiles return to our faces.

One day, in late November, Kristen sent me a video from Farm Sanctuary’s “Adopt a Turkey” program that featured Kat Von D and Moby talking about having a compassionate meal for Thanksgiving.  At this time, we had been vegetarians for just over 8 years, and we were seriously considering turning vegan.  We never knew that farm sanctuaries existed, and once I saw this video I dove head first into finding out as much as I possibly could about these organizations.

Two weeks later, Kristen and I decided to take part in Farm Sanctuary’s “Adopt an Animal” program and we “adopted” (more of a sponsorship) a Holstein bull named Conrad (R.I.P.), who resided at their Watkins Glen location.  We chose a cow, because at this time I felt horribly guilty for eating cheese and I wanted to try to amend for my unforgivable eating habits.

Suddenly, hope for a better future started to reveal itself in our lives.  Researching the tremendous work Farm Sanctuary has done, gave us a much-needed distraction from our depression and opened up a whole new community to meet with like-minded individuals.

full_17454-1431746910This story now brings me to Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in High Falls, New York.

Watkins Glen was too far for us to visit regularly, so I looked into closer sanctuaries to become more involved with, and I found Woodstock.  This sanctuary was only an hour from my house (less than my commute to work), and they let volunteers come any day of any week all year long!  I never really had any volunteering experience, but I was very experienced in physical labor.  So I decided to fill out a volunteer form and try it out at least once.  In an odd way, doing this also gave me the final push to give up dairy, eggs, and fish and go fully vegan.

A few days later the volunteer director, Todd (an awesome guy! FYI), emailed me and asked me to come up to the farm that Saturday.  I was so excited, and also slightly nervous about volunteering.  Needless to say, this was the best decision I made all year.  After a day full of stacking hay, cleaning turkey coops, and petting goats in 13° weather, I was addicted!

Tony and Amy braving the cold to come say hello

I started volunteering at least once a month ever since that day, even going as far as to dress up as Dylan, the one-eyed cow, at Hallowoodstock.

Me and my nephew, Luca, at Hallowoodstock

My wife would volunteer with me sometimes, and she was always right by my side in supporting these sanctuaries in any way she could. Most importantly, we were doing something to help these animals that were saved from their horrible fates in factory farms, backyard butchers, etc…

In 2017, we planned 2 vacations to one place…yep you guessed it, Farm Sanctuary! Here we got to meet our “adopted” cows, Sonny and Orlando.  We adopted Orlando after Sonny passed away and joined his buddy Conrad.  I’ll miss you guys.

Orlando giving kisses
Sonny, Kristen, and myself

It was during our first visit in June that Kristen got to meet and pet a turkey for the first time.  This turkey fell asleep as Kristen pet her and I could see all the distractions in our lives and in the world in general, melt away from my wife’s heart.  After all that we had been through, all the relaxation yoga, vitamins, and tips from “experts” on how to manage stress and depression, it was this moment that changed us.  This moment of being with another creature who only desired what we all do (love, comfort, and happiness) who trusted Kristen and closed her eyes while she stroked her feathers, made us both realize how wonderful it is to be safe, comfortable, and alive.

20170609_125159  20170609_125312 (1).jpg

This is how I started to understand that Farm Sanctuaries not only save the lives of these mistreated and exploited animals, but they also save the lives of humans.  My wife and I are never happier than when we are on the property of an animal sanctuary.  Interacting with goats, turkeys, pigs, cows, and all the rescued residents allows you understand what love is, and how that power can transform you.  There is a lot of hate and sadness in this world, which is the harsh environment where most of these animals come from, but on these wonderful properties there is only love and compassion.

We all have had bad moments in our lives, and I can honestly say that feeling like you are a part of something and making a difference in a cause that you truly believe in, can change your perspective and realize the worth of love and life.  I only ask that you extend that love of life to the animals who are so often forgotten.  Whether you are vegan or not, you can tell when an animal is grateful to have you with them, and I am certainly grateful to the animals of Catskill, Woodstock, and Farm Sanctuary who have changed my life forever.


Now, I know why you all read this so…

Here are some more animal pictures!

Farm Sanctuary sheep (sorry I’m bad with remembering sheep names)
Now you see me..
Now you don’t!

Thank you for stopping by,


3 thoughts on “How Farm Sanctuaries Rescued Me

  1. What a beautiful and touching story. When visiting those animals it truly is a spiritual experience. I’m happy you have found peace and perseverance through the work you are doing.


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