Our annual Shindig was held this past Saturday. In addition to the usual hayrides, barn tours, auction, and great vegan grub, the Compassion Trail invited guests to ten stations to observe and learn about farm animals, and Zoe Weil, President of the Institute for Humane Education and author, most recently, of Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and a Meaninful Life inspired us under the big tent to work tirelessly for the cause that speaks to us.
We worked hard to get the details right (and apologize for those we didnâ€™t), and hope our hundreds of guests felt their hearts open to the plight of farmed animals.
Caleb Fieser, our buildings and grounds manager, exhausted from a month of juggling excavators, electricians, and a team of eager AmeriCorps volunteers, nevertheless volunteered to spend the day as our master of ceremoniesâ€¦.that in addition to building a beautiful mahogany table for our auction.
Zoe spoke about the â€œMost Good, Least Harmâ€ principle that guides her life. Sheâ€™s a model of the power of a single individual to do so much good for the world. Around the tent, staff members and volunteers sat in the grass, listening intently, encircled by cows, horses, pigs, and chickens in nearby fields.
Marc Black, The Whispering Tree, and Mystic Ritual graciously donated their time and musical talents. (By the way: please check out No Frackinâ€™ Way: Marc is making a music video to inspire folks to stand up against hydrofracking: right on, Marc! Youâ€™ve got our pledge!)
Roni Shapiro of Healthy Gourmet to Go planned, shopped for, prepared and served vegan food for hundreds of peopleâ€¦for free. And it was delicious.
During hayrides throughout the day, Alex stopped, got off the tractor, climbed in the field with horses, cows, and goatsâ€¦and shared the animalsâ€™ stories with our guests. Weâ€™ve received many e-mails asking us to thank him for a special experience.
Inside the barn, dozens of guests at a time sat on the floor with turkeys Ethel and Blue, not only learning about their painful joints and limited mobility, the result of industry-induced obesity, but also observing their songs, their blinks, their dropped wings, all of which indicated their joy at being among us humans. People cried at Atlas the goatâ€™s valiance and joie de vivre in the face of crippling permanent injuries. Rambo the sheep pawed many feet, his signal for a massage. Guests dutifully obeyed, digging their hands through the oily wool as Rambo dropped his head and blinked in gratitude.
In the cow pasture, I helped a young child drape herself over giant Babeâ€™s back, just like I do. I sat down in front of the gentle steer, and Helen, a cow blind from birth, meandered down the hill following my voice. When she found me, she nuzzled my face for a long while, and a woman whispered through her tears, â€œI had no idea they were like this.â€
To Julie, Betsy, Abbie, Caleb, Michelle, Sara, Zach, and Steve: Thank you for bringing the best of yourselves to work not just on Shindig day, but every day. I am honored to be among you.
To Zoe, Roni, Marc, The Whispering Tree, and Mystic Ritual, thank you for sharing your remarkable gifts with us during a day that, no matter which way I turned, felt like love.
To our guests: thank you for choosing to spend your day among animals most folks never consider. Forty-eight new members joined the CAS family; I hope that at least as many were inspired to begin or to hasten their journey toward a diet free from cruelty. I know that all day long, Ethel the turkey, Rambo the sheep, Babe the steer and so many more offered all the support they could.