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Thursday, 12 April 2007

Rescue Me: The Farm Sanctuary in Orland, California - Page 2

Written by Jennifer Anthony
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On a warm Sunday afternoon in October, Lily the pig lies flat on her side, eyes closed, snaggletooth poking out from a wide, peaceful grin. The enormous fans trained on the bevy of sows combat the heat and ruffle their short, wiry hair. Lily grumbles just a little when the pig leaning on her back shifts position, but soon settles down again, snorting into the hay. Lost in daydreams, she doesn’t so much as twitch when I reach out to tickle her wrinkly pink neck.

robertiOur tour begins in the corral for the elderly cows who suffer from arthritis. They are purposely separated from the younger, nimble bovines that are allowed to roam across the farm’s many acres. As pack animals, they would be tempted to follow the youngsters far and wide and aggravate their joint pains. But even in this small herd of cows basking in the glow of their golden years, they have a leader named Roberti – an enormous male dairy cow who has assumed the role of protector, a rather ironic circumstance because male dairy cows usually don’t make it to old age. Roberti was on his way to becoming veal before being rescued.

When we stroll up to the cows, their sideways cud chewing doesn’t stop. They regard us with big brown eyes, swat a few flies with their tails, and allow us to give their necks and backs a hearty scratch. Several of these cows were rescued by the Sanctuary because they were so sick or old that they wouldn’t sell for a dollar at a farm auction. A couple of them were left to starve just outside their farms. Here, they live and thrive and somehow, somehow trust the very species that mistreated them.

The sheep and goats are next. The feral sheep that I spotted cresting a nearby hill were saved from Santa Cruz Island. They were introduced to the island by people and thrived, and their subsequent overpopulation meant a green flag to shoot at them from the air. Many of the goats were bought as residential “lawn mowers” who didn’t quite work out; they just didn’t do their job as well as expected or the neighbors complained about the noise. One sheep, still in quarantine to test for contagious diseases, was found wandering at a nearby construction site, apparently deserted by its owner.

Another barn hosts a gaggle of tame white female turkeys. Honing in on anything shiny and lustrous, they nip delightedly at my silver rings and car keys. They were de-beaked prior to being rescued, so their pecking doesn’t hurt. When I crouch down on my knees, compact white orbs of feathered bodies, curious and sociable as small children, surround me. The turkeys were rescued from an overcrowded plane and turned over to the Farm by the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA. The birds were among 11,500 others that were being transported from Detroit to San Francisco; 9,000 had perished during the flight. Approximately 1,900 of the surviving birds were sent to their final destination to become “breeder” birds whose offspring would be sold for food. The Farm was able to rescue eleven of these remaining birds.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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