Just Another Day at Catskill Animal Sanctuary

The first chapter of my new book describes the day that a gang of us trekked up a mountain to rescue and bring eight abandoned goats, several of whom were injured, back to the safety and plenty of CAS. It was a long, rich, magical day. A day that settled into our bones, and that is conjured up in challenging times when memories help fuel us onward.

This past Saturday was another one of those days. Long, rich, magic. The event this time was not a trek up a mountainside to retrieve animals in danger, but a day on which three separate events were scheduled concurrently and summer vacations presented staffing challenges. Fifty New Yorkers arrived via charter bus for a special lunch and extended tours organized by The Seed; Albany Vegan Network members were on site for a work party, and normal weekend tours were scheduled every half hour. If the first tour was any indication, we were about to be mobbed. And we were. So….at the beginning of the day, it indeed felt like we were facing a trek to the top of a mountain!

A small army of good-hearted, nose-to-the grindstone troopers—Linda, Elana, Jennifer, Keefe, Zach, Erin, Lois, Amrit, Claire, Barbara, Donna, Erica, Alex, Clara, Julie, and so many more—pulled off a complicated day without a hitch. Chef Linda’s food was exquisite, Keefe organized the painting party while keeping the entire rest of the day running, the Albany vegans settled into their projects—painting fences while flanked by pigs, rabbits, cows, ducks, and horses. And our devoted tour guides weaved through all the activity with open-hearted people here to meet the animals, hear their stories, and perhaps to better understand why virtually everyone else on site that day had already made the life-affirming choice to eliminate animal products from their diets.

And then, of course, there were the animals. And what struck me so powerfully on this wonderful day was the extent to which we are all a family working towards a kinder world. Barn staff. Chef. Volunteers. Innkeeper. Program staff. Tour guides. Arthur the Goat. Zeke the Sheep. Emmett the rooster. Nadine the pig. Tucker the steer. So many others. People new to our to our world are disarmed to discover that vegan food is delicious, and they are often profoundly disturbed by what they learn on our tours about the hideous food industry and its treatment of living beings.

But I’ll bet what is most disarming of all is the animals themselves: Nadine, the 800-pound pig who loves it when I stretch out over her prone body to give her a hug. The three little piglets who race to us with more enthusiasm than puppies when we call them–“Miriam! Moses! Ginger!”–and smother us with snout kisses, put their heads in our laps or cradle them in our hands, and fall over for belly rubs. Arthur and Stencil the goats who accompany the humans on an entire 90-minute tour. Tucker, the 2,000 pound steer who gives wonderful facials with his scratchy tongue. All these interactions happened on Saturday. Animals who are deeply loved become deeply loving. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that their loving natures are allowed to emerge. And when that happens, human hearts open.

Last Saturday was just another day at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. One day, the CAS family climbs a mountain to rescue animals. Another day, the animals climb with you, trying to reach the humans. On Saturday, I think we succeeded. We all surely tried.




A Day in the Life, Catskill Conversations, Herd Around The Barn, Sanctuary Life, Why Sanctuaries Matter