Last weekend when we headed to the chicken barn, Terry pointed out the turkey and chicken wearing sweaters. The turkey is older, and gets cold easily. The chicken came to the sanctuary only recently, and hasn’t had a chance to grow all of the feathers that are invariably missing from the chickens who had lived in cages. And so Terry makes them sweaters so that they are more comfortable.
I love these details.
Dave said today, “every time a chicken comes in the winter missing feathers, I know I’m going to lose another sweater.” heh. It’s for the greater good, Dave!
I think I might get him a Dave t-shirt to compensate!
Two conversations I have had recently seem to be linked to things I’ve been turning over in my mind lately. One was an issue that, I believe, is common to all activists – a pervasive idea that taking care of ourselves means neglecting the animals. We discussed this idea, and how the opposite is true. We’re better able to be effective activists if we’ve taken care of ourselves.
To accomplish this means that we take the time for ourselves to: get enough sleep, eat properly, get exercise, relax. And other things besides. What we don’t necessarily take into account is the effect that simply being happy and interested in others can have. We might never know when we spark people to make changes in their lives. The people who convinced me to go vegetarian never knew, for example.
The second conversation was really more a statement Terry was making today about sanctuary work and burnout. “We’re lucky, we’re the happy ending,” she said. And I think that says more about her and Dave, and how well they are able to take care of themselves, each other. The sanctuary is a very nurturing, peaceful place, not just for the animals, but for those of us who volunteer and spend time there. I think that, in general, people who run sanctuaries are just as likely to burn out as anyone else, perhaps more so.
And this leads me to the thought that I’ve been trying to reconcile lately – that enjoying something doesn’t negate the impact, the effectiveness, doesn’t disqualify it from being “activism.” It seems logical that if we do what we enjoy, what we’re good at, we’re going to be most effective. That if we enjoy it, we’re going to keep doing it, we’ll pass on that joy to the people around us, and be more effective that way.
Yet there is part of me that feels it should be a big sacrifice. I’m trying to change that part of me, to instead feel productive and effective in enjoying the things I do.
This is one of the aspects where I think Terry and Dave have really got things down – they enjoy the sanctuary (except for the paperwork), and they focus on the fact that they are, indeed, the happy ending for the 200 animals who live with them. They focus their energy there, and on the outreach they do, rather than on the million things they can’t control or change or impact. And they’re happy.
And if their chickens need sweaters, their chickens get sweaters.
Oh, and I feel like I’m always pushing pattrice’s book, Aftershock, but seriously, we all need to read it and reread it.