Sunday, October 18, 2009
Yes, it is mid-October and yes, that is snow. No, it's not in Virginia, but it actually did snow in VA this weekend! The snow would have been fun and pretty if we hadn't spent the entire day driving in rain/snow. We were heading to Watkins Glen, NY, home of Farm Sanctuary, to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. If you're not familiar with this incredible organization, I urge you to check out the link above (OK - the link is not taking in Blogger...it's: www.farmsanctuary.org). We awoke to this scene the next morning. This is the gorgeous view from our cabin (they run a small B&B as well). You can see all the animal shelters/barns in the distance and maybe even that dark spot in the fields. That was a pig.
After an all-vegan(!) continental breakfast of pastries, muffins, bagels, fresh fruit, juice, tea, coffee, etc. (along with vegan cream cheese/butter/jam!), we had a personal tour of the farm. (We were the only visitors at that time, so it was really one guide and us two - cool!). This is a shot from one of the hills overlooking the People Barn (education center/visitors center) and cabins. I only had 18 pictures left in my camera, so I couldn't take photos of the inside of the People Barn. It was fabulous, with a whole wall of celebrity photos supporting the Farm and veganism, and life size gestation crates, veal crates, and battery cages. Lots of interactive things for kids and adults to learn about health and the (sad) lives of animals on factory farms. But really, an overall loving and positive message. The store was great, too! :)
The first animals we met were the cows (actually, "cattle." Cows are the girls and steers are the boys - bulls are un-neutered. All the animals on the farm have been spayed or neutered, as it is the mission to rescue animals in need, not create more). I wish we could post the great photo of Mr. PLV, me and Snickers! Anyway, they were really beautiful and silent and large! They are huge because that is the way that they are bred. Sadly, they don't live as long because of this, and many develop weakened or broken legs because of the abnormal weight of their bodies.
Speaking of abnormal weight...the turkeys are in the same condition. They are bred to be huge especially in the breast area, and their legs can't support the weight. They are also artificially inseminated because they cannot mate naturally, they are so overweight. Happily, despite the debeaking and de-toeing, these turkeys will live out their lives at the farm in a peaceful way. Here is a great shot of one of the turkeys "submitting" itself to be petted. It just stood there, waiting to be stroked!
We learned that most turkeys are also bred white, because the darker feathers leave dark marks on their flesh and people like their meat to be "clean-looking." Yuck.
We met the goats and sheep next. They were the friendliest of all! The goats nibbled at our jackets and some of the sheep pressed up against us to be petted. This adorable guy is called "Jerry Lee," I think, and is a pygmy goat. Check out his cool horns! Horns are "living" parts of these animals, much like our teeth, which have blood flowing through them. When they are cut off, it is very painful.
This elderly goat was lucky enough to get a special jacket to help keep him warm.
The rabbits were sheltered away, so we couldn't see those that day. The geese are apparently not the petting-type of animals, so we left those alone, too.
The ducks were happy to be in their warm shed...
or out in the cold, playing in their pool! Brrr!!
Of course, with the H1N1 scare, we had to stay pretty far away from the pigs, but they were cool all the same. Although it is a misnomer that they are dirty animals (they prefer to be clean and swim in water to cool off (they don't have sweat glands), but mud works very well, too!), it is unfortunately true that they love to eat (thus the phrase, "eat like a pig."). They are bred to have huge appetites.
After some more farm walking, we headed into town for lunch. We ate some cheese-less pizza at the local pizza joint (very good!). Then we headed to Good Groceries. If you are in Watkins Glen, you have to check this place out! It's on 4th street, just off of the main drag (N. Franklin St.). It has all kinds of cool vegan and earth-friendly stuff. We tasted some Daiya cheese - very good! - and I bought some cool raw nuggets (one was fruit, the other a mix of veggies). Mr. PLV bought a vegan cookie. The owners are very friendly and know their stuff! They also have a lending library including videos - cool!
Finally, we headed to the nearby Watkins Glen State Park, for a walk along this incredible natural gorge, carved by glaciers, melting glaciers, and running water. The park people put in these very natural-looking stairs that blended right in with the rocks. It was quite a hike up! If you look closely, you can see the people on the path down below.
There were also tons of beautiful waterfalls.
We ate lots of great vegan food on this trip, including a yummy seitan rib sandwhich and a plate of pasta primavera at the RoosterFish (formerly the Crooked Rooster) which were both decent but over-priced. The cheeseless pizza at Jerlando's Pizza Co. was amazing despite the waitress' surly attitude when I asked about vegan cheese. We had decent Chinese at The House of Hong, although we were seated next to the cash register, facing the kitchen's swinging doors, and were rushed through our meal a bit. They have a separate vegetarian menu, but you have to ask for it. Why couldn't they just add it to their regular menu? But last and certainly best, we stopped by Glen Mountain Market on the way home for some sandwiches for the road. We both got seitan bacon type sandwiches, his on homemade French baguette, mine on a spinach wrap. The girl who made our sandwiches was very, very nice and the whole place was very vegan-friendly! She knew automatically what was vegan. The homemade seitan slices were delicious and definitely four star lunches all around with chips and a pickle! The only sad part was the Styrofoam boxes :P This excellent place also has the wonderful pastries that the Farm Sanctuary B&B served us in the morning, and much of their place is "greened." Overall, a cold but pleasant trip! Next time, we'll try to make it over to Ithaca.