Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Truman and Olive: survivors of the family farm


Truman came to us a month or so ago. He’d been bought to be killed for a pig roast by some young men in DC, but they couldn’t go through with it so they released him along the C&O Canal. He was found, skinny and scared, running along MacArthur Blvd.

He’s gained weight and confidence since arriving at the sanctuary. He has learned that he is safe with us, and along with his feeling of safety has come his demands for belly rubs. He’s such a sweetheart.

A small creek runs through the pig yard, and the pigs gravitate towards it in the hot summer months. They have created a nice mud puddle in the main part of the yard, but you really can’t beat fresh trickling water. So to the creek they go.

olive in the creek

Olive was in the creek hanging out with another pig. Olive was another who came to the sanctuary skinny and scared. She came with a dreadful thing in her nose that was designed to cause her immense pain if she tried to root for food. This, for a pig, is essentially psychological torture. The device was so painful that they had to sedate her to remove it, and even sedated she screamed in pain when they took it out. I can’t imagine how she suffered when it was put in to begin with.

olive with tortured nose

Olive when she first arrived

You can see the misery in her expression.

One thing to note about these two individuals, which is true of 95% of the animals at Poplar Spring (and most every other sanctuary as well) – these are the refugees from the small family farms. You know, the ones people think must be better than the “factory farms”. The difference between the family farms and the factory farms is only scale. To the individuals who live there, the horror and the injustice is the same.


13 responses to “Truman and Olive: survivors of the family farm

  1. The Voracious Vegan June 8, 2010 at 2:24 am


    So many times when people find out I am vegan they say that they don’t agree with factory farms either, that they like to buy local and organic. I just look at them in shock, if only they knew the truth. Wherever and however animals are being killed for food, it is violent and terrifying and painful. ALWAYS.

    Thank you so much for this post, I will be linking back to it on twitter and facebook.

  2. sheryl, washington dc June 8, 2010 at 6:56 am

    I had no idea about Olive. My God. I’ll save my comment about humans for my own blog.

    TRUMIE! He and Patsy need to get along, I’m so fond of both of them and she’s a terror.


  3. conradvisionquest June 8, 2010 at 9:30 am

    it’s places like Poplar Springs that give me hope for the state of the world. keep up the wonderful work! i wanna hug those pigs…


  4. Becky June 8, 2010 at 9:35 am

    You brought a happy ending to what could have been such a sad story! Thank you so much for everything that you do.

  5. Deb June 8, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    @tvv – I’m glad this post is useful for you, and thanks for posting it elsewhere! I think it is a weakness of most of the “bigger” advocacy groups that they tend to focus so much on factory farming. Seems pointless to me to specify what kind of farming, because it is all the same in the end, and the fact that they do specify probably helps put the idea in people’s heads that as long as it isn’t *factory* farming…and of course the exploiters are busy exploiting that with their “organic” and “humane” labels. :/

    @sheryl – terry said she’d never seen anything quite like the thing that was in Olive’s nose. Regular nose rings are not unheard of, and they’re bad enough, but Olive’s was so far beyond that. Truman and Patsy will get along eventually!

    @wendy – the pigs would love to have more people giving them back rubs and belly scratches! šŸ˜€

    @Becky – thanks! Volunteering at the sanctuary often means hearing stories that just make me shake my head (just when you think you’ve heard it all…) but the sanctuary is the happy ending. šŸ™‚

  6. ocveganista June 9, 2010 at 12:07 am

    I truly don’t know how anyone could look into their eyes and see food. You guys are truly these animals angels and i sleep a little better knowing you are out there giving them a second chance at the life they deserve.

    As always, thank you for doing what you do. I will be sure to spread the word about Poplar Springs.

    Much love-

    • Deb June 9, 2010 at 10:43 am

      I think if we knew the answer to that, we’d be able to work on fixing it! Social conditioning is frighteningly strong, and that is part of the answer I think. But there is real power in the sanctuaries, as it makes it very clear that its about individuals, not abstract concepts.

  7. sharon DiGenova June 10, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Thanks for posting. I think with social networking sites like FB etc. we can all make a difference. we all need to keep posting and sharing posts to give voice to the Trumans, Olives, and billions without names. Thank you.

    • Deb June 10, 2010 at 4:12 pm

      Thanks sharon, that’s a good point. This is the first post I’ve had where I’ve had multiple people sharing it on FB. (Or maybe it’s the first I’ve noticed!) It’s cool, hopefully helps reach a different crowd…

  8. drew June 10, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    as long as those in the matrix continue to see styrofoam and plastic-wrapped “items” shelved for their convenience, most will never know the true reality of the world around them. If only we could pull the support plugs on everyone at one time… if only.

    • Deb June 10, 2010 at 4:10 pm

      Ha, Drew, you need to go read my post about “The World Without Us” – linked in an earlier post here, but actually posted over at! Granted, sounds like you might have already read the book.

  9. veganprimate July 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    It’s great that those dudes couldn’t kill the pig, but geez louise…just letting him loose like that? That’s terrible! Honestly, sometimes I think people should go extinct.

  10. Deb July 23, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    When you start to hear more and more rescue stories, someone letting a piglet loose like that sounds like one of the most benign things that people do!

    It’s really astounding, in a bad way, what people appear to believe is acceptable behavior.

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