Maple Farm Animal Sanctuary - Mendon MASS
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MFS Welcomes Two New Turkeys

Just a month and a half before Thanksgiving, MFS welcomed two new feathered friends into our flock: two adorable turkeys!

A fellow farm animal advocate spotted the turkeys wandering down the street from a butcher shop and helped them complete their escape by taking them home. She tried to house them in a chicken coop but realized the large birds needed more space, so she reached out to MFS, and we were happy to give them a new and permanent home.

The turkeys, a female named Greta Gobble and male named General, were dropped off in early October and are adjusting well to life at MSF. Both are a little bit skinny and malnourished but are happily chowing down on grain. When the turkeys arrived we introduced them to our resident turkey Gwen, who first puffed out her feathers—and then ran away, but the three have gradually been getting to know each other.

Volunteer Jess also serenaded the two turkeys (with the help of some roosters who provided background vocals) with her MFS-modified version of “A Place in the Choir,” as shown below:

Follow MFS on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated about our new rescues

 

MFS Takes in a Second Alpaca

MFS has rescued our second-ever alpaca! In late July, we welcomed Winslow into our herd after his five companions passed away from neglect.

More recently, we took in Merlin, a gentle elder alpaca who lived at a horse farm for many years. Merlin was in need of a new home because his long-term companion passed away from old age, and we were thrilled to be able to bring Winslow and Merlin today.

When Merlin first arrived, he and Winslow squabbled for just a few minutes before settling down, and now the two are inseparable—whether they are sleeping together in their cozy stall at night, munching on grass, or just taking it easy soaking up some sun:

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MFS Welcomes Mario the Goat

Just a few days after welcoming a new alpaca, MFS has taken in another rescued animal: a goat named Mario.

Mario was living with two other goats in a run-down shelter in someone’s backyard when the shelter was broken into and knocked over by a bear. All three goats escaped into the woods, but sadly, Mario’s companions were never found. MFS was glad to welcome Mario into our herd and give him and safe and loving home.

Mario is already making quite the name for himself at MFS. He is Pygmy goat, which means he is on the smaller side, but he doesn’t hesitate to stand up to our larger goats. In fact, during his first night at MFS he head-butted Chivo, the bossiest goat at MFS! He is also extremely friendly and will march up to all barn visitors and wait to be petted.

Help Support Mario! While he is adjusting well to his new home, Mario will need some veterinary care and lots of nutritious food, as he is too thin for his size and was not properly vaccinated at his previous home. Please make a gift to help support Mario's care!

MFS Rescues Neglected Alpaca

Around 9:00pm on Tuesday, July 24, a van pulled up to MFS and dropped off a very special new resident: Winslow the alpaca!

Winslow, the first ever alpaca to call MFS home, is around thirteen years old and has a very sad backstory. He and five other llamas lived at a small farm in Martha’s Vineyard where they were badly neglected. They were fed improperly, often left without water, and not given appropriate veterinary care. Tragically, all five of Winslow’s companions passed away over the winter due to this neglect.

A veterinary student who lived in the area drove by and saw Winslow standing all by himself. The student found that Winslow had a high temperature of 104 degrees, and his fleece was so matted that she took pity on him and did the best she could to cut it with scissors. She was amazed by how calm Winslow was as she cut the fleece, and it seemed as if he knew that someone had finally come to help him. The student pleaded with the farm’s owner to give up Winslow, and after several months he finally agreed to release him to MFS.

 
Winslow did remarkably well on his journey to MFS, which entailed a long trip in a van and a ferry ride. On the night he arrived, he happily ate some nutritious hay and a treat of chopped carrots.

Winslow is very easygoing and gentle, especially for an alpaca! We are giving him time to adjust to MFS and letting him stay in a cozy stall in our pole barn where he can see llamas Milkweed and Pedro at night. During the day, MFS founder Cheri takes Winslow on walks around the sanctuary, and we plan to soon allow him to spend his days in our front pasture, where he can further bond with Milkweed and Pedro as well as Heritage the llama and Boo Boo the cow.

Help Care for Winslow! MFS must provide Winslow with veterinary care, vaccinations, and lots of nutritious food to ensure that he is healthy. If you are able to, please make a donation to help support Winslow's care.

Summer at Maple Farm Sanctuary

By MFS volunteer Jessica Bewsee

Being a volunteer at Maple Farm Sanctuary is a year-round gig—and trust me, it’s a gig of extremes. In February, when I’m toting buckets of water through the snow wearing my Carhartt gloves, I’m dreaming of warmer weather. But in July, when I’m mucking out stalls, and shavings are sticking to my sweaty skin, I get a bit nostalgic for winter.

So, while I’m certainly noticing the recent rise in temperatures, spring and summer at MFS also bring many changes in the behavior of the animals. You might think they would become more sluggish like we humans do, but they actually seem to enjoy it. There’s more laying in the sun, more games of head-bonk between goats, and more berry-snorfing at the mulberry tree by Piggy Smalls.

Here are some scenes you are likely to see during the summer at MFS:

A Refreshing Dip

Our geese always have three pools to swim and play in, but in the summer it’s really important that volunteers keep the pools clean and free from algae, and replace the water daily. The geese love this production. They often stand around the pools watching us work. Juliet, our female white Chinese Goose, likes to be sprayed with the hose (she quacks and quacks with happiness when I give her squirts on her chest) and Romeo, the leader of the gaggle, immediately hops in and dips his head under water repeatedly, stretching out his wings to their full span.

 

A Relaxing Mud Bath

In the winter, Jonathan the pig will spend over an hour building his hay bed, as it’s a task he takes very seriously. He puts in just as much time perfecting his summer wallow. He uses his powerful snout to dig deep into the mud, and he even pulls up any weeds in his way. 

Once Jonathan has sufficiently deepened his hole (and, I confess, I’ve added a large bucket of water to help with this endeavor), he slowly eases in for a relaxing mud bath. One peculiar thing I’ve noticed is that he seems to only want to cool down one side on his body. When he stands up he’s pink on one side and muddy-brown on the other with an actual line of demarcation running down his back!

 

A New Haircut

Finn the sheep displays some of the most noticeable seasonal differences. All winter long, his wool is thick and fluffy, making him appear huge. In the early summer he gets shorn, a process he tolerates but doesn’t particularly relish, and afterwards he looks half his size! After he is fully shorn he spends the day in hiding under the barn with the llamas, pouting over his nakedness. But in spite of Finn's initial reaction, it’s always very clear that he’s much more comfortable with his summer ‘do.

 

Indulging in Watermelon

In the hottest weather, volunteers bring the chickens their favorite treat: fresh watermelon! We’ll cut the melons in half and place them under the shade of the big maple tree in the front yard. The chickens swarm the melons within seconds and peck at them with delight. Lovey, our sweet chicken who is missing the top part of her beak, shovels the juice of the watermelon into the bottom half and tips her head back to let the juice drip into her mouth!

 

Staying Cool

Gwendolyn the turkey doesn’t seem to enjoy watermelon, but she knows how to keep cool! You will find her sitting in front of the fan in the barn, laying under the chicken tree taking dust baths, or cooling down her feet in the bowl of water I bring her when I do my barn chores.

While there are many differences between summer and winter on the farm, the one thing that never changes is the volunteers’ commitment to the animals’ care and the bonds we share with them. It’s a pleasure to work at Maple Farm summer or winter, rain or shine.

Come see for yourself! We’re always looking for more volunteers to help in the barns. It’s also a great opportunity to spend some quality time with the animals. Join the MFS volunteer community today.

Pitmaster Leaves Competition BBQ Circuit to Start Plant-Based Deli

Just because you don’t eat animal products, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the spicy, smoky flavors of barbecue. Just ask MFS volunteer Charles Christiansen.

Before going vegan two years ago, Christiansen was a regular on the New England competitive barbecue circuit. Each year from May to September, he spent his weekends grilling up meat-based dishes in hopes of winning coveted trophies and prizes.

Now, Christiansen’s spends his weekends educating MFS visitors about farm animal protection issues as a volunteer tour guide assistant.

A Profound Change of Heart

Above: Mama ("Isn't she the most beautiful cat?" says Christiansen)

What makes a lifelong meat-eater and barbecue aficionado go vegan? For Christiansen, it was a cat named “Mama.”

“My wife and I rescued Mama several years ago. She was the sweetest and most affectionate animal I had ever met in my life, and we formed a very special bond,” says Christiansen.

“Unfortunately, one day Mama started having seizures, and within a week we found out she had aggressive cancer and she passed away. She was only six years old.”

Mama’s passing affected Christiansen so deeply that he began to see a disconnect between his relationship with her and his treatment of other animals.

“Mama’s death hit me really hard, particularly because she was so young. I mourned for several months,” says Christiansen. “Soon after, I started getting ready for barbecue season, and it dawned on me that by cooking meat, I was doing the same thing that happened to Mama to many more animals: I was causing them to die young.”

Christiansen also began to see another dark side of barbecue competitions.

“Looking back on the competitions, I realized how wasteful they were. For one portion, we had to turn in only six pieces of meat, but we generally made a lot more to get the best ones; or we would take just six small pieces of one large roast. The extra meat was sometimes eaten but just as often thrown away.”

Following these realizations, Christiansen not only quit the barbecue circuit but also gave up eating meat. Shortly after, he transitioned to a vegan diet and came on board as a tour guide assistant at MFS.

Continuing the Tradition, Cruelty-Free

Above: Christiansen creates his plant-based meat alternatives in a kitchen in Somerville, MA.

While he used to be known for his love of cooking meat, Christiansen is quick to point out that giving up meat did not mean abandoning his passion for barbecue.

“Shortly after I became vegan, I started cooking food that I thought I would miss, trying to re-create it,” says Christiansen. “It wasn’t always easy—the first time I made seitan it came out so horrible that I had to throw it away, but I just went online and looked for ways to improve it.”

As he got more confident, Christiansen moved on to fancier vegan fair based on his affinity for barbecue as well as his southern roots. These included pulled pork—his signature dish from the barbecue circuit—as well as vegan pepperoni, bacon, and Andouille sausage, a favorite dish of his Louisiana-born mother. He also tried his hand at making vegan cheeses like smoked Gouda.

Last October, Christiansen turned his hobby into a full-fledged business, opening The Plant Deli, an online store that sells homemade vegan meats and cheeses “with a southern flair.” His most popular products are bacon made from seitan and chickpea flour and a breakfast sausage made from wheat gluten and pinto beans.

You can find Plant Deli products online and at farmers markets throughout the Boston area.

Vegan Barbecue Sauces and Tips from the Plant Deli

Above: Christiansen's barbecue seitan brisket

Without giving away too many of his secrets, Christiansen agreed to share some of his favorite plant-based barbecue tips with the MFS community. Learn more about grilling up vegan dishes from seitan to fruit and veggie pizza here.

And don't forgot your sauces and rubs! Check out Christiansen's recipes (pdf) for "All-Star Barbecue Rub," "Sweet & Sassy BBQ Sauce," and "Dester Nectar Agave & Key Lime Sauce."

Vegan Barbecue Tips

Looking to cook up some delicious vegan barbecue? Look no further. Follow these tips and tricks from MFS volunteer Charles Christiansen, a barbecue afficionado and owner of the southern-cuisine inspired Plant Deli. You can also read about Christiansen's journey from barbeque champion to vegan chef.

By Charles Christiansen

General Vegan BBQ Tips

  • Don’t skimp on the spice: Spice and smoke are what give barbecued foods their flavor. When vegans say they miss barbecued meat, I remind them that what they actually miss is all the flavor added to meat. However, because the protein structure of plant-based meats is different than that of regular meat, you will likely need to add more spices to plant-based meats to get those flavors.
  • Use bold spices: I use lots of pepper and salt as well as ginger and smoked paprika.
  • Smoke your veggie meats: Plant-based meats are actually much easier to smoke than regular meat. A meat roast takes a very long time to cook and requires a smoker, but plant-based products like seitan can be cooked on a regular grill with or without a smoker box, as they absorb the smoke much more quickly.
  • Remember the Sauce: Many traditional barbecue sauces are actually vegan—just check the ingredients to make sure sauces do not contain honey. If you've feeling creative, try your hand at making your own sauces and rubs.

How to Barbecue A Variety of Plant-Based Foods

Seitan

Seitan works best for putting directly on the grill because it's the most structurally sound of traditional plant-based meats. I recommend cooking it over indirect heat. On a charcoal grill, put hot coals in half the bottom of the grill and put a foil pan in the other half next to the coals. Close the lid to let the grill preheat for about 10 minutes and then cook seitan over the foil pan rather than the coals (this also helps catch any dripping sauce or marinade).

On a gas grill, light the left- and right-side burners, close the lid to let the grill preheat for 10 minutes, and then cook the seitan in the middle, between the lit burners. The grill will still be hot, but there will be less risk of burning the seitan. Since seitan is generally precooked, it takes just a few minutes to heat it through and get a nice char and smoky flavor.

 

Veggie Burgers

Commercial veggie burgers (whether the Beyond Burger or the standard frozen veggie burger) cook well directly on the grill. If you use homemade veggie burgers, you will probably want to use a grill pan because these burgers tend to fall apart when they get dry. You can find lightweight skillets with holes in the bottom in the barbecue section of the hardware store that are ideal for cooking veggie burgers (as well as cooking vegetables on the grill). Make sure to oil them a little to prevent sticking.

 

Tofu

© Crystal

For tofu, it's a bit of a judgement call. If your tofu is well pressed and still holding a block shape without starting to crumble, you can cook it the same way you would cook seitan—just be sure to oil the grill grates very well, as tofu tends to stick pretty easily.

You can buy utensils that are a combination of tongs and spatula (basically, tongs with spatula ends) that work well for cooking tofu on the grill because they let you hold the block together while flipping it. If you find that your tofu is cracking before you put it on the grill, you should use a grill pan so that the tofu does not fall apart and fall between the grates.

 

Fruit & Fruit Pies

Cook fruit on the grill! More people should do this—it's really good. Stone fruit like peaches, plums, and apricots taste amazing when grilled, as do pineapple rings and even watermelon slices.

If you have a gas grill that has good temperature control, you can also cook pies on your grill. Instead of baking a cherry pie in the oven, put it on your gas grill with a small amount of cherry wood chips in a smoker box and cook it for the same amount of time and temperature as you would in the oven. You will end up with this subtle smoky, almost chocolatey flavor that really takes your cherry pie to the next level.

 

Pizza

Pizza also tastes amazing when it's grilled. You can buy accessories like the PizzaQue that fit onto standard Weber charcoal grills to turn them into pizza ovens, and they work really well. Using these, you can cook pizza pies with or without vegan cheese (I recommend So Delicious mozzarella shreds for pizza) in just a few minutes, and they will taste like they came out of a real Italian brick oven.
 

 

3 Ways to Up Your Compassionate Shopping Game

If you’re leaving animals off your plate, you’re already living quite the compassionate life — by going vegan, you spare about 95 lives each year, and thousands more over a lifetime! But what if there’s more you can do to live a kind life? Read on for three ways to up your compassionate shopping game.

1. GO ORGANIC: Most people in the U.S. are familiar with the term “organic.” After all, most of our grocery stores offer organic fruits and veggies, and many even have a dedicated aisle of “natural and organic” packaged foods. Not only does buying organic offer you health benefits, it turns out that it’s a compassionate choice for the environment, too! Organic farming practices “reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, use less energy” and are “better for nearby birds and animals, as well as people who live close to farms.”

Above: Who knew you should be checking the labels on what you put in your tote *and* on your tote?  (Pictured: Two Trick Pony’s Pig Pal Jumbo Tote, which is made from 100% certified organic, US-grown cotton)


Here’s what might come as a surprise to you: Did you know that the same can be said for organic cotton farming practices? When you choose organic cotton instead of conventionally grown cotton you:

  • Minimize your impact — Since organic cotton is not grown with toxic chemicals, it doesn’t damage the soil, has less of an impact on air quality and uses 71% less water and 62% less energy than conventionally grown cotton. That’s a big deal when you consider that conventional cotton uses about 16% of the world’s insecticides and 7% of pesticides!
  • Proactively address projected water shortages — In less than ten years, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. That’s distressing to think about, but organic cotton can help! Since it’s 80% rain-fed, it lessens the pressure on local water sources.
  • Do your part for farmers and their families — If you’re like me, you’ve had your fair share of people saying, “But what about people who are suffering?” when confronted with being a voice for animals. Here’s the good thing about compassionate living: It benefits every living being, and organic cotton is no exception! By choosing organic, you’re helping farmers and their families avoid being exposed to toxic chemicals. You’re also helping keep conventional cotton out of our diets since cotton seed oil is used in a variety of food products.

2. SHOP LOCAL (AND SMALL): Shopping local isn’t just for one Saturday in November! When you shop local, you not only keep money in your community (and therefore support local schools and infrastructure), but also protect local land and wildlife, too. Here’s how that works:

“By buying local, you are supporting local farmers and producers. With your support, these farms are able to stay in operation. Because the farms are owned and operated by local farmers and producers, they aren’t being sold to local developers. Local developers could completely transform the land, devastating the wildlife that calls it home. Or, big business producers could buy out the farm and incorporate inhumane and non-eco-friendly farming practices.”

For those times when you can’t shop local, another good option is to focus on shopping small. One reason I like to shop small is it’s easier to figure out if the vendors I’m supporting are aligned with my values. For instance, when I buy gifts from Lyndsay at The Vegan Potter, I know that she’s committed to producing ethically made pottery and supporting her community through programs such as Clay for a Cause. Same goes for buying tees from Andy at Compassion Co. — I know that he’s just as committed to organic cotton (and eco-friendly production) as I am, so I can shop worry-free.

Above: I love a sassy, savvy, small business, don’t you? (Pictured: Andy Tabar in Still Vegan Compassion Co. t-shirt)

3. MAKE A STATEMENT: Speaking of Compassion Co., my husband, Jake (you might know him as Mr. Pony if you follow me on Instagram), recently wore his favorite Compassion Co. t-shirt to the bank for a quick errand. The woman who helped him with his transaction noticed the vegan message and opened up to him about her struggles with going vegan, especially when it came to swapping some of her go-to foods for more compassionate options. Jake took the conversation as an opportunity to recommend some personal favorites. He also empathized by letting her know that she wasn’t alone in the struggle, and that it gets easier.

Take a note from Jake and add some vegan gear to your wardrobe! Bonus points if it’s made from organic cotton and you buy it from a local vegan company. When your new vegan gear gives you opportunities to talk about your compassionate lifestyle, make the most of those chances by being just that: compassionate!

Nick Coughlin, founder of Compassionate Man, said it well when describing his realization after initially trying to “browbeat compassion” into all of those who are not yet vegan: “My job was not to demolish my detractors, but to gently open windows to a new way of thinking. Every interaction was now an opportunity for me to thoughtfully consider whether my actions would actually help people see animals in a new light or not. If not, it’s best to hold my tongue and look for a better opportunity to make an impact.”

You’re making a huge difference by shopping vegan! Now try sticking to organic goods (both food and apparel), patronizing local businesses, and wearing your vegan heart on your sleeve to make an even greater impact.

Laurie Johnston is the owner of Two Trick Pony, a Massachusetts-based, eco-friendly greetings and goods company. When she’s not screenprinting, Laurie spends time volunteering for Maple Farm Sanctuary and trying to pet as many dogs as she possibly can in one lifetime.

 

Sources

Aboutorganiccotton.org

Animal Equality, "Food."

Helpguide.org, "Organic Foods: What You Need to Know."

GoGreen, "The Environmental Benefits of Buying Locally."

 

MFS Takes in Two New Potbellied Pigs

Maple Farm Sanctuary is thrilled to welcome two new adorable arrivals: potbellied pigs Jack and Harriet!

Jack and Harriet were brought to MFS by a local family. The family had rescued Jack from a hoarding situation and gotten Harriet after she had been bought and re-sold by several people who did not want to keep her. The family tried to raise both pigs inside but was unable to keep them and wanted to find a place where they would have access to the outdoors. Many people they contacted unfortuntely would have used Jack and Harriet for meat, but then they found MFS, and we were glad to offer the pigs a home.

Harriet is about two years old and is white with black spotting. She is very friendly and outgoing and loves to get back scratches. Harriet also enjoys walking on a leash, something that MFS volunteers are very happy to help her with!

Jack is a little over one year old, has solid black coloring, and is on the small side for a potbellied pig. He is also shy and tends to follow Harriet’s lead—except when it comes to eating, as he quickly gobbles up his food and then tries to eat Harriet’s food as well.

Both Jack and Harriet will need a lot of care and support as they adjust to their new lives at MFS. They are settling in nicely in their temporary stall in one of our large barns while we work on building them a permanent shelter that will include ample access to the outdoors and a cozy indoor space. They will also soon have a new roommate, as we are preparing to welcome a third new pig, named Chester, in the coming weeks.

Support Jack and Harriet: make a gift to help us build our new shelter, or make a year-long difference for animals by sponsoring Jack or Harriet.

Stay up-to-date on Jack and Harriet (and find out about Chester's arrival): sign up for our newsletter and follow MFS on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

MFS Rescues Goose Whose Family Was Attacked by a Coyote

Maple Farm Sanctuary recently welcomed a new goose to our gaggle: Tony, a Tufted Roman Goose.

Tony was being raised as a companion animal along with three other geese in a private backyard. They lived in a rural area, and sadly, one day after the geese were let outside, three of them were attacked and killed by a coyote. The family was devastated by the loss of the geese and knew that they would also have to find Tony a safer place to live. They also wanted Tony to find a home with other geese.

MFS was glad to take Tony in and give him a safe and loving home. Here, he will never have to worry about being attacked by a coyote again, as our animals are protected from coyotes by our resident guard dogs, who keep the coyotes at bay without hurting them.

Tony is slowly becoming part of MFS gaggle and spends his days hanging out in our front lawn and splashing in our pools. We have also found him out back a few times visiting with the Canadian geese who frequently stop by the sanctuary!

Here are some more photos of our handsome new goose:

Above: Tony is introduced to the curious MFS gaggle.

Above: Geese like Tony (and other birds) often stand on one foot as a means of conserving body heat.

Above: Tufted Roman geese were named for the small tuft of feathers on their heads, which reminds many people of a tiny hat.

Piggy Smalls and the Mini Pig Trade

Piggy Smalls is a four-year-old Vietnamese potbellied pig who was originally sold to a loving family by a breeder advertising “mini pigs” who would remain small forever. Like all potbellied pigs, Piggy quickly grew to more than 150 pounds, and his family could no longer keep him.
 
Fortunately MFS stepped in to rescue Piggy, as we did with our other potbellied pig Chance, but not all potbellied pigs are so fortunate. Watch the video below to meet Piggy and learn about the deceptive mini pig trade:

 Video by Aviva Luttrell

Behind the Scenes: Volunteer Spotlight, Part 2

Who knows Maple Farm Sanctuary’s animal residents best? The kind and compassionate people who volunteer their time to give these furry, wooly, and feathery friends the best life possible!
 
We recently asked several of our volunteers to tell us about their special bonds with the animals of MFS. If you missed it, read Part 1, and then read on for more heartwarming stories below:

Barn Volunteer Jane and Dragon

“I've volunteered at Maple Farm Sanctuary for just over a year now and I have a soft spot for the older animals. Anytime I go in to visit the dogs, Dragon nudges his way in and makes sure he gets some love as well.”

Tour Guide Sarah and Jonathan 

“Running tours at Maple Farm Sanctuary is such an incredible experience. I get to share these amazing animals with people and help them form connections. I always encourage people to look in the eyes of the animals so you can see they really are someone and not something. Sharing the message about how special animals are has been one of the best experiences. I am so fortunate to be part of the MFS community!”

Barn Volunteer Luciana and Gail 

‘I am so honored be a part of the Maple Farm Sanctuary team. For years I visited the Sanctuary and wished I could get closer to the amazing animal residents and give them some love. Although I have not been a volunteer for too long, the experience has been more than fulfilling — it’s dream come true! Gail is such a sweet and special lady. I feel extremely pleased to meet and hug her!”

Barn Volunteer Yana and Mimou

“Mimou is a beautiful girl. Her owner almost sent her to slaughter because she didn’t like her personality. I think Mimou is great and she wants the same as all of us — to be loved and accepted.”

Barn Volunteer Jennifer and Gwendolyn

“I love every single animal at Maple Farm Sanctuary. Today though, Gwen really needed someone to listen to her. She is going through an exhausting and uncomfortable molt. I loved just being able to be there for her and comfort her. Open your heart to an animal and you know what they are saying to you.”

Tour Director Marlene and Putt Putt

"Putt Putt, our sweet senior goat, has impaired vision in one eye. I call him my handsome pirate!"

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation Awards $5,000 in Grants to MFS

Maple Farm Sanctuary (MFS) is grateful to the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, which recently awarded us a total of $5,000 from the Foundation’s Community Spirit 9/11 Mini-Grant program!

Ten employees of Health Plans, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, nominated MFS for an award of $500 each. MFS plans to use the grants to support a variety of projects, including purchasing a much-needed hay feeder that will enable our resident cow herd to more easily eat nutritious hay in the cold weather months.

“We are so appreciative of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and all the employees who generously selected MFS as a grant recipient,” says MFS Co-Founder Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis. “Our cows will certainly appreciate the grants as well, as they will soon be eating in style from a new hay feeder!”

Additional funds may be used to buy fresh fruits and vegetables to feed the animals and purchase vitamins and supplements to support the care of our many elderly animals.

About the Community Spirit 9/11 Mini-Grants Program

To commemorate those Harvard Pilgrim members who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, Harvard Pilgrim and its Foundation created the Community Spirit 9/11 Mini-Grant program. This program enables employees from Harvard Pilgrim, Health Plans Inc. and NTT Data to award an annual grant, completely funded by the Foundation, to the local charity of his or her choice.

Since the program began in 2002, these employees have directed almost $5 million to hundreds of organizations throughout the Foundation's health plan service area – comprised of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Former Dairy Cow Just Wants to Cuddle, and Spend Time with Her Favorite Goat

If you open the door to Gail’s barn, the 1200-pound Jersey Cow will stop whatever she is doing, perk up her ears, turn her head towards you, and beckon you with her big brown eyes. She is hoping you will come over, so she can rest her head in your arms—it’s the cow version of a hug.

At 23 years old—one year past the average lifespan of a cow—Gail can be forgiven for making visitors come to her. She is afflicted with arthritis, often preferring to lay down, but she still has a lot of life in her, and a lot of love to give.

"Gail just loves getting attention and cuddling,” says Maple Farm Sanctuary (MFS) volunteer Chrissy Toti, who visits Gail each Friday during her volunteer shift.

“All of the cows at MFS are friendly, but Gail is just so sweet and mellow,” says Toti. “Each time I see her, I spend an hour petting her, massaging her, talking to her, and feeding her oranges, her favorite treat. Sometimes she just tries to lick me the whole time.”

Toti first began visiting Gail after she moved to her own barn about a year ago. Gail had previously lived with the MFS cow herd, but she had to be separated from the younger, more rambunctious cows, who could potentially injure her while they were roughhousing,

Though she is no longer with the herd, Gail is not lonely. Not only does she receive multiple daily visits from volunteers like Toti, she also has a roommate, Lily, a 13-year-old goat. While Lily has been known to have a bad attitude around fellow goats and other animals her own size, she and Gail are thick as thieves.

“Gail and Lily are almost always together—they are always inside the barn or in their pasture at the same time,” says Toti. “When they are outside, Lily sometimes runs and hops around Gail. She can get pretty crazy, but Gail just swings her head to the side, cueing Lily to calm down, just like a mom.”

Below: Lily and Gail often hang out together in the pasture behind their barn.

It is heartening that Gail has had a chance to show her maternal instincts with Lily. She spent the first ten years of her life on a dairy farm, where she was continually impregnated so that should would produce milk. Gail never got to keep any of her calves, as they were taken away from her shortly after birth so that the milk she produced for them could be sold.

“We’ve rescued a few pregnant cows who gave birth at the sanctuary,” says MFS Co-Founder Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis. “It is heartbreaking to watch cows like Gail get excited and run over to the new babies to see if they are one of their own who had been taken away,”

Gail most likely lost more babies than most, as she was used in the dairy industry for twice as long as average diary cows, who are sent to slaughter at around 5 years of age, when they are considered “spent” because they can no longer produce enough milk.

Fortunately, the farmer who owned Gail had a change of heart and surrendered her and several other cows to MFS in 2005. She’s been living a well-deserved life of leisure at the sanctuary ever since.

“After going through the trauma of having her babies constantly being taken away, now all Gail knows is love and compassion. You can see the trust in her eyes,” says Toti. “I feel like every day she is thanking MFS for rescuing her.”

Top image: MFS volunteer Chrissy Toti hugs Gail the cow.

 

The Milk Myth

Many of us were told as children that drinking milk was one of the nutritional foundations for growing healthy bones and teeth. This pervasive message, a product of the oft-debated food pyramid, continues into adulthood, particularly for women, who are encouraged to eat dairy in order to ward off bone loss

In reality, it is calcium, a mineral found in many foods, from leafy greens to baked beans, that is critical for healthy bones, nerves, and muscles. Equally important is vitamin D, which is difficult to get from any food. While milk may be advertised as a good source of vitamin D, it only has trace amounts of it. It’s fortified, but so are many brands of orange juice and breakfast cereals. The bottom line is that calcium and vitamin D are important, but milk is not necessarily the best source.

In fact, drinking milk may have more health risks than benefits. Studies have linked the high levels of saturated fat, allergens, and Bovine Growth Hormone (a synthetic hormone that artificially increases milk production) in commercial dairy to ovarian cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, increased body inflammation, and Type 1 diabetes. Not to mention that three-quarters of humankind lack the enzymes to comfortably digest dairy. This statistic isn’t surprising when you consider that humans are the only mammals that drink milk after infancy, and we are the only species that drinks another species’ milk.

What is most heartbreaking is the widespread perception that dairy cows graze in green, open pastures, side by side with their calves and cow families for the whole of their lives. In reality, the vast majority of dairy cows live inside commercial facilities, tethered to milking stations. In researching her book, Cash Cow: Ten Myths About The Dairy Industry, Elise Desaulniers found that cows are "milked three hundred and five days per year, which means they are also milked for most of their pregnancy…They are artificially inseminated so that they are kept pregnant and lactating almost all the time.”

Calves who would normally suckle for nine months are taken away from their mothers after two days and fed milk replacer, so that we can drink the milk that was meant for them. Male calves are typically sold for veal, while female calves are often raised as dairy cows, repeating the cycle.

Plant-based Alternatives

On average, we absorb about 30 percent of the calcium found in milk. We absorb nearly twice that amount when we eat vegetables such as kale, broccoli, bok choy, and spinach. Calcium can also be found in delicious foods like almonds, figs, edamame, and tahini. You can learn more about calcium-rich foods by visiting Ginny Messina’s vegan calcium primer on The Vegan RD blog.

To get your Vitamin D, drink fortified almond, soy, rice, coconut, and hemp milks, as well as fortified orange juice and breakfast cereals, or you can simply bask in the sun.

The Full Helping blog ranks the following wholesome options as the best plant-based sources of calcium, and lists how far each food will get you towards 100% of your daily RDA:

  1. Fortified almond, soy, or rice milk, 8 ounces: 300-500mg (30-50%)
  2. Fortified orange juice, 8 ounces: 350 mg (35%)
  3. Collard greens, cooked, 1 cup: 270 mg (27%)
  4. Fortified breakfast cereal, 1 cup dry: 250-1000 mg (25-100%)
  5. Turnip greens, steamed or boiled, 1 cup: 200 mg (20%)
  6. Mustard greens, steamed or boiled, 1 cup: 160 mg (16%)
  7. Bok choy, steamed or boiled, 1 cup: 150 mg (15%)
  8. Tempeh, 4 ounces: 120 mg (12%)
  9. Tahini, 2 tablespoons: 120 mg (12%)
  10. Dried figs, 1/2 cup: 120 mg (12%)
  11. Extra firm tofu, 3 ounces: 100 mg – 150 mg (10-15%)
  12. Oats, instant, 1 serving: 100 mg (10%)
  13. Kale, steamed or boiled, 1 cup: 100 mg (10%)
  14. Shelled edamame, steamed, 1 cup: 100 mg (10%)
  15. Silken tofu, 3 ounces: 80 mg (8%)
  16. Blackstrap molasses, 1 tablespoon: 80 mg (8%)
  17. Almond butter, 2 tablespoons: 80 mg (8%)
  18. Almonds, 1 ounce: 80 mg (8%)
  19. Orange, 1-cup sections: 70 mg (7%)
  20. Navy beans, cooked, ½ cup: 65 mg (6.5%)
  21. Broccoli, steamed or boiled, 1 cup: 60 mg (6%)
  22. Pinto beans, cooked, ½ cup: 50 mg (5%)

A plant-based diet is a win-win. Not only is it cruelty-free, it is also extremely healthy. A study published in 2015 in the “American Journal of Health Promotion” found that a plant-based diet can boost both physical health and emotional well-being. Perhaps that’s why 11 team members of the Tennessee Titans went vegan last season, a change they credit for adding power and speed to their defense, which ranked third against the run and fifth in the league with 40 sacks. "My energy levels have gone up," says Wesley Woodyard, the team’s leading tackler. "And it's just putting in good fuel to your body.”

—written by MFS volunteer Jennifer Novak

 

Get Your Chocolate Fix with Two Decadent Vegan Dessert Recipes

Love is in the air—and on the farm—for Valentine’s Day! In honor of this sweet holiday, integrative health coach Susie Belanger is sharing two of her favorite cruelty-free dessert recipes, as well as tips on how you can celebrate another, lesser-known holiday this week.

Do you wish you could eat a kind diet free of meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and other animal products? Or are you a seasoned vegan looking for a new recipe for a special Valentine’s Day dessert to share with your sweetie? Either way, you are in luck! Here are two decadent recipes just in time for the 14th.

Before we start baking, did you know that it’s Random Acts of Kindness Week? Here are a few ideas for how you can celebrate with kindness towards humans and animals alike:

  • Give a homeless person a fiver (not just the loose change in your pocket).
  • Let someone out into your lane, even if there is mad traffic.
  • Smile at a stranger. Hopefully she or he will pass that smile on to the next passersby.
  • Donate to Maple Farm Sanctuary in your loved one’s name by making a one-time gift or sponsoring an animal. Your kindness will help support animals in need of love and care all year round. 
  • Skip meat and dairy for the day. There is simply no easier way to help animals and prevent suffering than by choosing vegan foods over meat, eggs, and dairy products.
  • Show the love to your furry companions. Take the pup in your life on an extra long walk, or give your kitty some extra chin scratches.
  • Love yourself. Random acts of kindness can and should also be directed at YOU. The more you love yourself, the more you will have the capacity love to other beings.

Now, on to the recipes!

Let’s start with these incredibly easy cupcakes....

Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes With Chocolate Walnut Topping

INGREDIENTS

Cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour, sifted (I used a mesh colander)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee (I use Mount Hagen Organic Freeze Dried Instant Coffee)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted (I avoid Dutch processed cocoa because it is treated with alkali)
  • 1/2 cup raw brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (almond, hemp, and organic soy are all good options)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Topping
  • 1 5.3 ounce 70% dark chocolate bar
  • 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Powdered sugar
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a large 6 cup large muffin pan with vegan butter (I love Miyokos Creamery European Style Cultured Vegan Butter) and a pinch of flour.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, cocoa, coffee, brown sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a small bowl, mix maple syrup, vinegar, non-dairy milk, olive oil, and vanilla extract.
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until there are no lumps.
  5. Fill cups 3/4 full with mixture.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until knife comes out clean.
  7. Let cool to room temperature.
  8. Spread the topping on top of cupcakes.
  9. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!
Topping
  1. Break chocolate into pieces and heat in a double boiler on low until just melted.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in non-dairy milk, chopped walnuts, and salt.

Chocolate Cake with Caramelized Hazelnuts and Raspberry Coulis

This cake recipe is “next-level” but it’s worth the extra time and effort. It’s filled with healthful ingredients like carrots, nuts, coconut, cocoa, and dark chocolate. (No one will taste the carrots, which are the secret to its moist, dense texture.) Credit goes to my super fabulous Swiss-German friend who made it for a party I attended and I was blown away! If you read German, follow the original recipe here.

Here’s how it’s done:

INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches of cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup of agave (or sugar)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 a cup coffee (I dissolved two packets of Mount Hagen Organic instant in half a cup of hot water)
  • 1/4 cup chopped up 70% dark chocolate
  • 1-2 carrots, grated

Icing

  • 1 cup melted 70% dark chocolate (about one and one half 5.3 ounce of 150g bars)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts toasted in a pan on the stove in 2 tablespoons granulated sugar to caramelize

Raspberry Coulis

  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon powdered confectionery sugar

Nota bene: Organic ingredients are always best. Also, don't have hazelnuts? Use almonds, walnuts or whatever nuts you have - or omit. As with all recipes, feel free to change it up. Use strawberries instead of raspberries. Use organic soy milk, oat, or hemp milk instead of almond. There are no rules.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. First, mix all dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, cocoa powder, coconut flakes and ground hazelnuts - well.
  2. Slowly add wet ingredients- coffee, agave, vanilla extract, coconut oil and almond milk - and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add grated carrot.
  4. Put the mixture into a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 60 minutes. The baking time can vary depending on the oven, with me it took 60 minutes.
  6. The coffee or the almond milk can be replaced by other fluids, juice or tea, depending on your preference.
  7. Once the cake is done and cooling, make the icing: first toast the hazelnuts lightly in a dry pan and then remove the outer coating once cool enough to handle. Don't worry if you don't remove all of the outer coatings. Do your best. Loosely chop nuts and set aside.
  8. Add granulated sugar to the pan and melt over medium heat. Add back the hazelnuts to caramelize. Once coated and sticky like peanut brittle, spread on parchment paper in a single layer and cool.
  9. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Add 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Stir.
  10. Add 1 tablespoon almond milk, stir, and pour chocolate icing over your cake.
  11. Top with caramelized hazelnuts.
  12. Blend raspberries with powdered sugar in a food processor (mini Cuisinart is great for this step) then strain to remove seeds. Spread raspberry coulis on plate in any design you like and add a few raspberries. Voilà

Susie Belanger is a Plant-Based Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and the Founder of Belavie Health & Beauty Homemade. Cooking is her jam and creating plant-based versions of traditional meat-based dishes is her specialty. She offers healthy vegan recipes and do-it-yourself skin care recipes on her blog: mybelavie.com.

 

MFS Rescued Sheep Tara Anna Featured on the Dodo!

MFS was thrilled to find out that one of our most steadfast supporters, 12-year-old Elias, was recently featured in a video created by The Dodo! The video highlights Elias’ special bond with rescued sheep Tara Anna, who he sponsored for many years.

MFS rescued Tara Anna in summer 2005 after we received a call from the local police department about a sheep who had been badly abused and was found hiding in some bushes. It turned out that a group of women had tied a rope around the sheep’s neck and dragged her around their yard by a riding lawn mower. While the poor sheep struggled to get free, other women beat her with sticks and a baseball bat. When the police arrived and cut her free, the women said they were planning on using her as a piñata to stab to death and then have for dinner.

When we approached sheep, who we named Tara Anna, she wasn't shy or skittish—she was petrified. We finally got her to MFS and put her in a comfortable stall next to the majestic, calming llamas, before giving her veterinary care.

Over the years, Tara Anna gradually recovered from her trauma and healed. She bonded with other sheep at the sanctuary as well as goats, pigs, and llamas, and she even came to trust people again. Volunteers were very careful around her and never picked up a broom or stick when she was near, as we never wanted her to feel scared again.

Tara Anna passed away from natural causes associated with old age in summer 2017. We are so happy that we were able to give her a loving home where should could recover from her trauma and know peace and comfort for many years. We are also so thankful to young Elias for all that he has done to help Tara Anna as well as other farm animals around the world through his compassionate advocay efforts!

Make a difference for rescued animals like Tara Anna by sponsoring your own animal friend at MFS just like Elias. Also sign up for our e-newsletter, the Non-Dairy Digest, to stay up-to-date on MFS news and animal rescues.

Behind the Scenes: Volunteer Spotlight

Who knows Maple Farm Sanctuary’s animal residents best? The kind and compassionate people who volunteer their time to give these furry, woolly, and feathery friends the best lives possible!

We have volunteers who spend time in the barn, volunteers who manage our email newsletter, volunteers who lead weekend tours  — you name the task that promotes compassion towards farmed animals and we’re fortunate enough to have amazing people who come from far and wide to cover it.

Recently we asked our volunteers to tell us about their special bonds with the animals of MFS. Read on to get to know the faces behind MFS, and then make sure to read Part 2:

Barn Volunteer Sharron and Chivo

“I was intimidated by Chivo when we first met, mostly because of his size, and those horns! He surprised me once by butting me gently in the back and I realized he just wanted attention, like my dog, or my kids when they were little. The similarities didn’t end there. Experience taught me to Chivo-proof the barn while I’m working. He’s been known to nudge open the gate and trot over to eat the chicken feed, or climb into a stall behind a volunteer and refuse to leave without payment (a grape or apple slice). I fell for it once, but never again. Chivo, I love you, but I am so on to you!”

Barn Volunteer Megan and Lovey

“Lovey is missing the top part of her beak, so she has trouble pecking for food. It's heart wrenching to watch her try to eat! So I've learned Cheri's special way of feeding her small pieces of grapes by dangling them. If I'm not feeding her fast enough, she jumps up to reach my hand — just like a cat or dog! At Maple Farm Sanctuary, I've discovered what amazing personalities birds have! Look at her on her cute little tip toes!

Barn Volunteer Meghan and Piggy Smalls

“This pig is such a love, he comes when I call for him, he returns the affection that I give, and on occasion, he'll follow me around the back paddock.”

Tour Guide Assistant Ryan and Olaf

“I have volunteered at Maple Farm Sanctuary for many years but it wasn't until September that I got to meet and hang out with baby goats, Olaf and his sister Sage. This was only made possible by mama goat Wynvisa and the tireless work of Jim & Cheri. They have created a place of peace in a world of chaos and I and all of these very lucky animals thank them for it. Oh, and go vegan!”

Barn Volunteer Chrissy and Gail

“Maple Farm Sanctuary holds such a special place in my heart! Cheri, Jim, and the animals are like family. I love volunteering every week and it has been such a positive influence on my life. Gail is a retired dairy cow that is over 20 years old and she’s one of my favorites."

Barn Volunteer and Tour Guide Jessica and Gwendolyn

“I call Gwendolyn my best turkey girlfriend. She’s goofy and talkative and brave. I’ve worked for about three months to make her a lap turkey and finally succeeded. That was an incredibly happy day for me.”

Tour Guide Assistant Sue and Pumpkin

"I never knew I would have such love for farm animals. I've always been a cat/dog person. I realize now I just never made a connection outside of house pets. I think I'm in trouble now!!"

Are you interested in joining this compassionate group of animal lovers? Whether you’re available for a weekly barn cleaning shift or you have professional skills that you could donate to the cause, find out how to get involved with Maple Farm Sanctuary today.

 

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