Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Tag Archives: harrison

Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, Open House 2012

My view of the pig barn across the duck pond as I left after the Open House

I think that all of us involved in the sanctuary‘s Open House spent last week anxiously watching the weather reports for Sunday. It seemed that every day the forecast was more grim – colder, wetter, and all around worse for an outdoor no-rain-date event that is also the biggest fundraiser of the year.

Cold front moving in, bringing clouds…

By the time Saturday came – gorgeous, warm, blue skies and sunny (at least part of the time!) – it was clear that Sunday was going to be 25 degrees colder, and that there was no chance of a dry day. Terry and Dave had rented an extra tent to cover where the speaker and audience would be, and for the Silent Auction tables that are usually just outside the Silent Auction tent.

Extra tent. Silent Auction tent off to the left.

We only pulled out about half the usual number of chairs, and we had a good crew to help with the set up after chores on Saturday, so that wasn’t as painful as it usually is!

After set up, I headed into DC to pick up a few hundred pounds of cake from Sticky Fingers.

Cake is heavier than you’d think! 4.5 sheets fits just fine in my little truck.

We still had hope that there wouldn’t be rain during the actual event, or that any rain would be more of a drizzle than a downpour. And that’s exactly what we got. It was cold, and it rained in the morning while we did chores, but a couple hours before the event started the rain dried up, and it stayed dry until after the event, when we were cleaning up.

Charlotte in the early morning drizzle

The sanctuary has been lucky for many years, and though this year’s weather wasn’t perfect, it certainly could have been much much worse.

Initial attendence estimates are that about half the normal number of people came. Terry had expected worse, so even this was somewhat positive news! I haven’t heard even a rough guestimate on how much was raised.

The Silent Auction tent was hopping at the start of the event!

The speaker this year was Karen Davis, of UPC. I was down at chickens, so I didn’t even see her, let alone hear her talk, but from what I heard from visitors to the chicken yard, her talk was really good. Maybe someday we’ll start getting good video of the talks so that we can all enjoy them afterward!

We brought Harrision down from the playhouse to the chicken yard again. And as usual, he had a great time. He was basically held and snuggled for four solid hours, which is his very favorite thing. It was great to give people the opportunity to hold him, especially the people who were really uncertain whether they wanted to hold a chicken. They’d be a bit nervous, sometimes they’d ask if he bites. I would always assure them that he was just going to fall asleep as soon as he was in their arms. And as soon as they held him, they fell in love. And then I’d tell them about the Chickendales calendar in the gift shop!

Harrison sleeping in a little girl’s arms

At one point one of the young volunteers, Max, came up to me asking if I could try to find someone who didn’t mind being held. There were people who really wanted to hold a chicken, and the usual suspects (aside from Harrision) were not interested in being held right then. I put him in charge of supervising Harrison and went looking.

Like Max, I kept striking out, until I thought of the Japanese Silky boys, Jethro and Horatio. They enjoy being held, and while they don’t usually like being picked up it was late enough in the day that they were starting to head toward their stall in the barn. I got Horatio into the barn, and then was able to grab him. I’d have felt bad about tricking him, except that I knew he would enjoy being held for a while.

Liquin and Horatio. He’s a sweetheart! His eyes were half closed as she held him.

People tend to love the Silkies. They look so different, so distinct, and it fascinates people. “Is this his comb? He looks fluffy instead of feathered!” He required a bit more care when transferring him to different people, because his tendency is to be a little restless compared to Harrison, but many people got a chance to hold him, and many more pet him as I held him.

I got some good questions – people wanting to know how you tell a rooster from a hen, and about rooster courtship rituals.

We had a fairly steady crowd – sometime there was a line to hold Harrison, other times there were only a few people down at chickens, but I don’t think there was ever a time when there were no visitors at all.

Shannon (aka VeganBurnout) snuggling Harrison, with her husband smiling at them both.

After the event was the reverse of the day before. Folding up the chairs and tables, hauling the tables to the trailer on the truck, and then to the barn and into the little storage area, putting the chairs into their boxes and loading them onto the truck trailer….and then there was the eating of leftover food, and the half sheet of cake that gets reserved for the volunteers. (Terry knows how to motivate vegans!)

I donated a few things to the silent auction. Some canvases, but I’d also had some glass photo cutting boards made, and some photo iPhone covers, and those seemed to be popular as well. I’d ordered them as an experiment, curious what the quality would be like. Good enough, I guess!

A friend has donated her expired Canvas On Demand groupons to me, and I’ll be using those to print more canvases to be used in future fundraisers for the sanctuary. There are rumors that we might do another silent auction at the Thanksgiving With The Turkeys event, but otherwise they’ll be in the silent auction at next year’s Open House. Thanks Ida!

The calendars were apparently a pretty big hit also. This is the first time in several years that I’ve had them ready in time for the Open House, and it sounds like that was a good thing. October seems early for people to be thinking of the next year’s calendar, but maybe it ends up being the right time.

There is currently a really nice coupon on Lulu for ordering them online – 30% off with coupon code “MEMENTO”. (No quotes, but must be all caps.) That coupon is good through October 15, 2012. There will be other coupons later too, but 30% is generally the best you can get, and I don’t know if I could predict whether there will be another 30% off coupon! But if you miss the October 15th deadline for this coupon, you can always check Lulu’s current specials page to see what coupon is active.

PSAS 2013 Calendar Cover

There are two calendars this year. The regular one, with the stories to go with each resident, and new this year is the Chickendales calendar, which has the names of each rooster, but not the stories.

Chickendales 2013 Cover

You can see the full previews of each calendar on their Lulu page.


Work dialogues and microactivism

I’ve recently changed how I “am” in public with my veganism. But by “in public” I mean “at work”, because (I think I’ve mentioned) I’m not really a social person. That is, I enjoy talking to people, and even need it on some level for emotional/mental stimulation, but I almost never make the effort to actually go and seek out people. So work and the sanctuary are the bulk of my in-person social interaction.

And no matter how much I made an effort to socialize outside of work, it would never match the sheer number of hours I spend at work. Unfortunately, that’s life for most of us.

The change is subtle. Mostly I’m more open about being vegan. I don’t avoid conversations about veganism, even though sometimes I get so freaking tired of “representing” that I fantasize about becoming a hermit. (And if anyone knows of a tropical island for sale on the cheap, let me know…) Lately I seek these conversations out, to a degree. Specifically, to the degree that the other person is open to them, and even more specifically to the degree that this can fly under the radar in my ultra-controlled ultra-conservative work place.

The change came about in part because of AR2009, though I can’t point you to any one thing that nudged me in this direction. It also came about through my conversations with my 9 year old neighbor, who would ask questions, and who I would answer with simple and direct truth. Around the time I was realizing that this was a good strategy to consciously choose, I read a post by Adam Kochanowicz called “Be a vegan activist: Microactivism“; I think it was mary_martin‘s tweet that brought it to my attention. Adam started his post by saying:

While the decision to respond to animal exploitation by objecting to any and all products requiring the use of animals is a personal one, no significant change for the status of animals will ever occur if nurturing vegans are not there to help their peers to make this choice.


One of the most important means of vegan education is dialogue. Without dialogue, questions are left unanswered, pictures lack explanation, and the experience of thinking differently lacks emotional and social engagement.

This article tied in strongly with my recent changes, and put into words the things swirling in my head, as well as giving me some additional ideas.

In the past month or so I’ve had a series of conversations with a coworker. A very good-hearted sweet woman, who was interested to know why I’m vegan. We’ve had many bits of conversations. The part about the dairy seems to have so far had the biggest impact, but she’s not yet even thinking of giving up dairy. I think she wants to, but she doesn’t understand how to. She mentioned calcium, I mentioned the data showing that milk is the worst way to get calcium, and has often been shown to be counter productive in terms of bone health. I mentioned leafy greens and almonds. Almond milk, specifically. “Does it taste the same,” she asked. And I haven’t a clue. I would assume not, but I can’t remember. I only remember milk tasting bad, with a nasty aftertaste. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to reproduce that. I like almond milk, but not everyone does. There’s no one answer when it comes to non-dairy milks, but I think I’ll find some of those 6 packs of serving sized almond milks so she can test them out.

What I found interesting about today’s conversation was that she seemed to be telling me that she could never give up chicken, because she just couldn’t imagine ever caring about the chickens. She can’t eat lamb, and she’s now feeling bad about dairy. She teasingly invited me to the place she and another coworker were going to lunch where chicken was pretty much the only thing on the menu, saying “maybe we can corrupt you.” This was bizarre to me. Corrupt me? I didn’t know how to respond to that other than to point to my calendar, which happens to feature two gorgeous roosters, Leopold and Cornelius, and the little Rhode Island Red hen they’re watching out for. “I like my animals alive,” I said with a smile.

She was a bit startled. That’s when she tried to explain why she couldn’t care for chickens, but could care for lambs. I mentioned that chickens are killed when they are babies. Just 6 weeks old, I told her.

She’s got 3 little kids, I figure the baby and the milk connection is worth pursuing, as that seems to be what she’s sensitive to.

The coworker she was going to lunch with, who was once a vegetarian, but (and I still don’t understand the connection) gave that up after 9/11, because “9/11 affected her a lot,” seemed startled that I was having these conversations with our coworker.

“She’s not giving up meat,” she told me kindly, as if to prevent me from wasting time.

“No,” said the coworker who seems a little open to the idea, “but I want to give up other things.”

Personally, I feel like I’m engaging in a social experiment of sorts. We’ll see how it goes. I’m going to take Adam’s advice (and to be fair, it is far from the first time I’ve heard it, he’s just the most recent) and start having some literature on hand. Just in case.

And maybe I can get her to bring her kids to Poplar Spring. I think I actually underestimate how powerful the sanctuary is for other people. I know only the power it has for me. But nothoney commented on my post about the Farm Tour, referring to a young friend she brought with her to the sanctuary for the event, saying:

Erin and I went back to the pig barn after eating our veggie dogs and saw Wilbur moving around. He was looking at us so intently, and Erin was so impressed by his expressive eyes, and she called his name and I swear he tried to move toward her but sort of scooted and collapsed into a nap.

As we left, Erin told me that meeting all the animals had given her a lot to think about. She really enjoyed holding Harrison – thanks for picking him up for her. She has a tough situation at home so I can’t push, but I can gently guide. She wants to come back in October to volunteer for the Open House and we’re walking together in Baltimore’s Farm Sanctuary walk.