Jen, Merete and I made the 45 minute drive North to the farm on a scorching-hot July day. When we got there, we were met by a very nice farm intern who showed us what needed to be done and where to get our tools. Then, we got to work cleaning goat and cow stalls.
Most of the animals were very cute.
Here's a cow we met, and a super fat goat who made me laugh every time I saw her (in a compassionate way, of course).
After we finished picking the poop out of the stalls, we got to feed a super-cute lamb as a special treat. The lamb had actually been following us around a lot, like a curious pet. I found myself petting it just like I'd pet a dog, which was strange, but fun.
Here's Jen feeding the lamb (with milk in a beer bottle).
After our vegan picnic lunch, we moved on to the chicken area.
I must say, the chickens affected me most of all the farm animals. Most of them had pink, bald patches on their bodies, the result of being crammed into wire cages with other chickens. Despite the fact that the chickens had been at Animal Acres for about 6 months, their feathers still had not grown back, and probably never would. But that wasn't even the saddest part. Once we got close, we saw that the chickens' beaks were short and blunted. It turned out that the tips of their beaks had been cut off by their former owners at a factory farm. Apparently, this is a common practice used to prevent the chickens from pecking each other as they sit in their tiny cages. Their beaks looked awful, and the intern told us that sometimes the chickens starve to death after their beaks are clipped because it's too painful to eat. The turkeys in the chicken area also had clipped beaks, and clipped toes as well. It was very sad.
But, on the bright side, these chickens and turkeys seemed pretty happy at Animal Acres. Merete even petted one of the turkeys. Apparently, turkeys are very sweet-natured animals.
Once we finished scraping poop up in the chicken area--not the most fun job ever--and Jen finished cleaning out a crate used to house some adorable stray kittens, we were done with our chores and ready to head home.
On our way out, we said farewell to the biggest, fattest pig I have ever seen. Merete, who has been to Animal Acres before, had told me about this huge pig, but I don't really think I believed her until I witnessed it's enormousness myself. The picture doesn't really do it justice, but here it is anyway.
What I took away from this Good Girls adventure, beyond an appreciation for goat butts, is that free range chicken is the way to go. I know that phrase sounds kind of silly to some people, but I really think it's important to treat the animals we eat with some compassion. Cramming them in tiny cages and cutting off their beaks just doesn't seem like something that we should allow. Luckily, free range chicken and eggs are readily available in California grocery stores.
Is the same true in the rest of the country? *Special thanks to Jen for taking these great pictures!