I love where we live out here in the beautiful Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts, but every once in a while I miss certain things about the East Coast. Being closer to Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary in Norton, MA is one of those things!
My first experience there was for the Winslowshire Renaissance Fair in 2011, where the beautiful grounds were transformed into a magical Medieval kingdom where all kinds of animals wandered peacefully amidst vendor booths and games.
I fell in love with the entire Sanctuary and all of its inhabitants that day, but a hilarious experience with a naughty but precious white Donkey named Stardust enchanted me more than I can ever fully express. Since then I try to go and see him as often as possible, his story started out very sad but like all of the animals at the Sanctuary he was saved by Debra White and now lives a peaceful, happy life in this beautiful place.
Debra was kind enough to open the door for me on a day they were normally closed as she knew how much I missed being there and was in the area visiting family. Grateful to Annmarie of Sheepish Grin Photography who told Deb and met me there to introduce me to the many new residents since my last visit. (Visit her website!) Highly recommend taking one of her photography classes, where you have the opportunity to connect with the animals and learn how to capture the many expressive faces and characters you meet there!
While Annmarie and I were walking around the Aviary area, suddenly many of the animals were sounding alarms. Peacocks, ducks, chickens all making terrible noise, alerting us and each other that something was wrong in the normally very peaceful Sanctuary. We then noticed that someone was being chased by one of the resident cats. Getting closer, we saw that it was a fledgling robin ~ confused and vulnerable. Annmarie chased the cat away, and I jumped in to grab the little bird so we could get them to a safer spot. Two of the Sanctuary's wonderful volunteers came to help and after a stressful time of holding fast (but not too tight) to this scared being and talking quietly and calmly to them, long-time volunteer Dan put the young bird into a basket, then raised it high in the tree where mom could still attend. I sat for a long while, far enough a way to keep an eye on the basket but to not intimidate the mom from coming back. The little bird had the energy to jump up and perch on the side of the basket, which made me terribly nervous but glad they were still healthy and strong enough to call for mom. Please be safe, little one. (Annmarie went back a few days later and it seemed like all was well. I sure hope it was.)In perfect Tribute to this place, I found a sweet Victorian style printer's ornament depicting a Peacock and a Turkey that will be the End of July Collection's #givingback Amulet. 50% of the sale will be donated to Winslow Farm to help Henri the Turkey and all of his friends there.
Debra is one of my personal heroes, the world is a much better place because of her! Certainly life is better for all of the animals who live there, and for every person who visits her Sanctuary. Meeting pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, goats and so many more new friends can really change the way that we as humans, see Them. They are all individuals with their own stories, their own personalities, just like Us. For me, the best way to personally combat the sadness of unnecessary violence, the crisis-stress of climate change happening on our one small planet is to change the way we eat, through vegetarian or complete plant-based choices ~ by going vegan. There are now SO many kind and healthy options for every animal-based meal you are already eating...it only takes a small change in the way you shop, prepare and cook to make a huge difference for their lives.
There are TONS of great websites for information, recipes, opinions. For me...veganism isn't about being "perfect" ~ but doing what you can, when you are able.
I have been vegetarian for about 22 years, plant-based or vegan for almost 5 and have not felt like I am missing out on anything since. I eat junk food, I eat healthy food, I take B12 supplements and daily vitamins ~ my doctor gives me gold stars, I feel healthy. Strong. Grateful for a husband who cooks delicious meals (...sometimes instagram the prettier ones on my Frog Hollow account! Can't help it, he is an artist too!) We mainly eat fresh, local produce when we can, and try to limit our processed foods. Some things that you phase out (like dairy) can be odd to replace at first, but you grow to crave a different flavor, a different taste other than cow's milk once you stop. I prefer oat and cashew based milk for creamer, ice cream and yogurt, but you can try the many brands and flavors and see what works best for you.
Some of my favorite plant-based alternatives to animal-based ingredients:
- Miyoko's ~ the cream cheese! so tangy. the roadhouse cheese spread!! SO yum!
- Upton's Naturals ~ seitan, jackfruit
- Field Roast ~ deli slices, sausages & franks, celebration roast for holidays!
- Light Life ~ smart bacon
- No Evil Foods ~ specialty substitutes
- Forager Project ~ cashew-based yogurt
- Oatly ~ my favorite milk on the market
I try to limit how much I eat, but sometimes...you just neeeeed chocolate!
- Chocolate Hollow ~ the best vegan milk-like-chocolate I have ever tasted!
- Amy's Dreamy Candy ~ closest thing I have found to a milky way!
- Ben & Jerry's ~ they have so many great new plant-based flavors!
- Nada Moo ~ great ice-cream
- SorBabes! ~ my good friend Traci brought some over, delicious! (LOVED the Raz'nBerry)
- and so many others!
We are lucky to live in an area with many restaurant options, more are being added all the time in the least likely of places it seems. You can use the Happy Cow website or app to help find options near you!
If you got this far, thank you for "listening" to my ideas and opinions for having a kinder life!