Yesterday afternoon, I was lying in the grass outside the barn, chatting with farm manager Karen Wilson and animal care director Abbie Rogers. We were talking about pasture management, and about the optimum diet for Babe, our beloved senior cow. What we weren’t talking about was how exhausted we were.

Visitors meet a horse.

Yep: Monday was Shindig Recovery Day. Everyone from Rambo to Casey to Abbie to me, Boss Lady, was bleary-eyed.

Our chef, Kevin Archer, strolled down the driveway to water the garden. I popped in with him to check progress on broccoli and beans, strawberries and greens, mesclun and melons.

“Did you have fun yesterday?” he asked as we hugged each other in greeting. He was pooped, too.

Fun. Hmmm. I met hundreds of new people, guided half a dozen narrated hayrides around the farm, and told the stories of animals whose transformations rocked my world, and, indeed, informed how we do what we do at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. I watched in delight as folks looked into the eyes of a gentle chicken, or hugged Babalou the goat as he strolled through the food tent. I smiled as Buddy the blind horse gently nuzzled children’s cheeks. I answered lots of questions about CAS, about animal cruelty, and about why CAS has begun a children’s camp and a cooking program. During all of this, I even managed to eat half a black bean burger, bid on an exquisite photograph of Beacon the Pig, and at the very end of the day, marvel as Ethel, The Greatest Turkey of All Time, sang with Joe, band leader of The Acoustic Medicine Show.

But I wouldn’t call it fun, exactly. Shindig day feels like a day of breathlessness. So very many people, so very many animals whose well-being we must monitor as the crowds swell in the barn and the more timid creatures become overwhelmed. So many details to manage. Yeah: on Shindig day, I’m always simultaneously elated and breathless.

One of Catskill's chickens greets visitors.

What we hope is that you, our visitors, had fun. We hope you enjoyed the food, the music, the auction, and the hayrides. We hope your kids had fun and learned a few things in the children’s tent. We’re hoping that many of you experienced these animals as we do: essentially like us in ways that count, and certainly entitled to happiness. We’re hoping that our message that the greatest act of kindness to animals is to go vegan got through to some of you.

For you see, if even one person left Catskill Animal Sanctuary on Sunday vowing to begin that wonderful journey toward a cruelty-free diet — a diet that over the course of a lifetime will save thousands of animals, result in far greater health and dramatically reduce the individual’s environmental footprint — well, then, the animals and humans of Catskill Animal Sanctuary did our jobs.

On behalf of Casey, Hannah, Rambo, Malachi, Barbie, Ethel the Singing Turkey, and the rest of the critters who call CAS home, thank you for joining us for a very special Shindig, and thank you, especially, for all your efforts on behalf of voiceless animals.

Some great resources for cruelty free eating and living:



Catskill Conversations, Sanctuary Life