I was very excited about Poplar Spring’s Thanksgiving With the Turkeys event this past weekend. The Washington Post’s article was part of that, specifically knowing that Terry’s phone had been ringing constantly with people interested in coming to the event…people who were often not even vegetarian, let alone vegan.
We were lucky – it was an unbelievably nice day for late November. Sunny, dry, warm, and no wind. It was so warm that most people were wearing short sleeves! Between the perfect weather and the huge interest generated by the article this year, we had at least 800 people at the event, as a conservative estimate based on the number of cars parked. A more exact number will come from the sign-in sheets eventually. This was an increase of at least 200 people from last year!
I partook of a mini volunteer-potluck before the event officially started, and then spent the entire event in the chicken yard. Many people had a chance to hold the various chickens who enjoy being held, and I answered many questions. Most of the questions are about individual rescue stories, or particular breed or species identification, not so much questions delving into animal rights. There are always exceptions though, and one interaction stuck out in particular.
A little girl, maybe 5 years old (my best guess), asked me “why do people in other countries eat cats and dogs?” I replied, “that’s a good question. Why do people in this country eat pigs and cows?” She just looked at me. “When we love animals, we don’t eat any of them, do we?” She agreed with me, but I’m not sure if she was agreeing because kids are sort of programmed to agree with the answer they’re given by adults or whether it made sense to her. I didn’t ask her if she (and family) were vegetarian or vegan, but I did make sure she had a chance to hold one of the chickens.
Opal held court outside of the main chicken yard. She loves people more than just about any other resident, and tends to just sit and bask in the attention, so she was set down near some of the hay bales where people were sitting to eat, and she got attention and treats all day long. And many many photos were taken in which she was the star.
I also had a chance to meet a couple blogger friends, which was a lot of fun. With vague plans of “find me in the chicken yard!” made in the comments of my post last week, they did just that. Shannon (VeganBurnout) and her husband, and Jennie and Alex (CityPittie and That Vegan Girl) were the bloggers in question, and we spent quite a bit of time hanging out talking in between my chicken duties. I didn’t end up talking to Alex much, since he is allergic to chickens and was trying to keep some distance from the feathered residents of the chicken yard…though that also meant that when Robin escaped the chicken yard (her favorite activity) she made a beeline for where Alex was lounging on the ground and circled him a bit. And I bet you thought it was only cats who did that!
There were several reporters at the event, something that is becoming pretty normal. Even before the WaPo article, a reporter from TBD / Channel 8 (unrelated to the WaPo article) had arranged to come to the sanctuary to video the event and interview Terry.
I was very interested to see the reporter getting some eye-level footage of the turkeys, and overall the quick video coverage was very well done.
PCRM always has a team out on Friday night before the event to set up the tables and chairs, and this year PETA had a crew of volunteers there to break down the tables and chairs. Anyone who has heard me groan and moan about the tables and chairs (especially anyone who has helped with that dreaded task) can understand how awesome it was to not have to lift a single one! In past years I have helped break down the tables and pile them and the chairs up until it got too dark to see. This year I was still in the chicken yard talking to people and finding them chickens to hold while the tables and chairs were all being taken care of. By the time the chickens were all inside for the night there was not a single table or chair or pumpkin to be carried anywhere. Bliss!
Another happy moment for me was hearing how fast the sanctuary calendars had sold out. I was late in getting a draft version done, so we ordered only 25 to make sure the order could print and ship in time to get there for the event. We might be ordering another batch, and we’ll definitely be putting them up online soon. Some of the newest residents are featured, as well as some of the oldest. And there are bunnies kissing. Who doesn’t want to see bunnies kissing?