Yesterday I posted an exciting update from Jasmin of Our Hen House, sharing news of plans that she and Mariann have to continue to change the world for animals. Little did I know that hours later I would get caught up in, and witness, the messy and beautiful world of changing the world for one young steer.
Let’s back up. As most of you know, I serve on the board of directors of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (WFAS). Yesterday I had a meeting scheduled with Jenny Brown, co-founder and director of WFAS, to continue working on our 2012 fundraising goals. I was looking forward to that beautiful two-hour drive upstate.
Early Tuesday morning, while pounding cups of coffee pre-drive to Woodstock, my husband and I were watching the news. A young steer had escaped a slaughterhouse in New Jersey, swam through a river and was running through the streets of Paterson. I watched in shock (as one of the police vehicles backed into the poor guy) and mumbled, “I hope he gets to a farm sanctuary.”
A few hours later I was driving to a farm sanctuary.
When I walked in I was greeted by Jenny, her husband and co-founder Doug Abel, and Sheila Hyslop, WFAS Farm Manager. Jenny said “We’ve got something exciting going on!” “What?!” I asked. She continued “Our awesome volunteer Mike Stura is rescuing that steer in New Jersey!”
Folks, it had not yet even occurred to me. I’m on the board of a farm animal sanctuary. I drove to a farm animal sanctuary. Just a few hours earlier I expressed hope that something good would come of that steer. Did I even think to call WFAS? Did I think to call anyone locally? Nope, I just hoped someone else would do it. More on that later.
Well, someone else did do it.
On Tuesday evening Mike Stura learned of the escaped steer and phoned WFAS immediately to see if they could provide a safe haven for him. Yes, they could. But first, a bit about Mike.
I met Mike nearly a year ago, on my first visit to WFAS. I was on the tour and there were many volunteers working with animals and, on this particular day, I believe they were planting trees. In my head, I still see Mike with a shovel. I was obsessed with meeting Clover for the first time. I kept asking, anyone who would listen, “where’s Clover?” As the tour was coming to a close we met the sheep and goats. I asked a big, tattooed guy if he had seen Clover. “Yes, she’s right there,” said Mike Stura, as he pointed out my Clover.
Later last year I met Mike again. I attended that annual Thanksliving fundraising dinner and Mike and his wife Wendy were honored as “Good Eggs,” the volunteer recognition award. I was in awe of everything they do, which includes driving up from New Jersey every single Saturday and Sunday to volunteer. In January I had a chance to chat with Mike at an event celebrating the opening of the WFAS Guesthouse. This is when I learned that Mike and Wendy used to come up to Woodstock for fun on the weekends. They camped and hung out. One day they decided to visit WFAS and went on the tour. When the tour ended they vowed to never eat animal products again. And they immediately became volunteers. Mike and Wendy are powerhouses.
Recently Mike bought a trailer so that he would be able to rescue larger animals. He broke that new trailer in yesterday when he negotiated with slaughterhouse staff and eventually was able to remove that young steer and bring him to WFAS. Please, take a moment to read about it here, and to watch the fantastic piece on WNBC:
Yep, the steer is named Mike, after Mike.
Folks, I was there yesterday. I heard so much.
- Jenny talking to the vet, explaining what treatment the steer needed from the horrible assault he experienced the night before and what treatment WFAS could offer when he arrived.
- Jenny speaking with reporters and repeatedly making the point that this is one animal saved from being on a dinner plate, but what about the others?
- The staff on the walkie talkies preparing for the young steer’s arrival. Making sure all of the current animal residents were comfortable and ready and that bovine Mike would have a comfortable place to rest his weary head.
I was there when human Mike pulled up in his fabulous red truck and that fabulous red trailer, newly broken in with the rescue of young bovine Mike. I was there when the other WFAS residents were a buzz with excitement:
On my two-hour drive home I was weepy. Happy tears of joy for bovine Mike. Gratitude tears for Jenny, Doug, Mike, Sheila and all of the WFAS staff and volunteers. Tears for all of the animals we know were slaughtered yesterday while sweet, dear bovine Mike was being rescued.
Tears over something so obvious.
Earlier in the morning I mumbled, “I hope he gets to a farm sanctuary.” I didn’t call WFAS – and I’m on the board! I didn’t try to find a number in New Jersey to learn of the steer’s fate. I have felt, lately, that I’m doing my part to change the world for animals, as Jasmin and Mariann would say. But yesterday I saw one woman’s passivity (mine) early in the morning and another man’s action (Mike Stura’s) in the afternoon.
I can do more.
I’m going to challenge myself to think long and hard about how I can take my activism further and make it more meaningful. Will you?
What are you doing to help animals today?
- Can you donate to an animal right’s organization?
- Do you have special skills (graphic design, PR, agriculture, time) to volunteer for an animal right’s organization?
- Can you become a “culinary activist,” as coined by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and entice non-vegans to enjoy more plant-based meals, saving animals one meal at a time?
Tell me! Inspire me, and each other, so that when each of us think we have done enough, we can be reminded that we can do more.