I've been following Chenoa Manor (a farm animal sanctuary) on Instagram for a little while now, and have been wanting to take one of their tours forever, but everything they either sell out or I have to work that Saturday. Well, yesterday Kevin and I were finally able to go, so I wanted to share my experience with you!
I had bought tickets in advance, which is $25 per person but it's a donation, so the money goes directly back to the animals. The tour starts at 11am and ends at approximately 12:30pm. They ask that you hold your pictures until the end so that you can be in the present, and it's easier to remember your experiences in the present. I loved that outlook, because it's so true. As an avid picture taker, sometimes I see the beautiful picture I took, but can't remember the experience I was having while taking it. So now I have this beautiful photo but not much emotion tied to it since I forget.
So let's start from the beginning, they send an email a few days prior to the tour to give you some general information. What I love is that, considering Chenoa Manor was built on ancient Native American land, they ask for a food donation for the animals, as Native American tradition would. They said what is most loved by the animals in the email; dark leafy greens and peppers. I stopped at Giant and got a thing of spinach, a thing of picked greens, three bell peppers, and a bag of baby carrots.
Prior to the tour they ask you about yourselves, why you came, what you're hoping to learn from the experience, and then they tell you a little about themselves and the sanctuary. This is one of 40 accredited sanctuaries in the United States (I think he said 40, I was distracted by baby goats so I can't be sure.) What that means is someone came out from the organization and checked to see that the animals are all getting proper care, food, and treatment, and plenty of space to live a happy life. They're a non-profit and they rely solely on volunteers and the kindness of donations. The two we met, Heather and Mike, are the owners from what I established.
They had: goats, donkeys, horses, pigs, ponies, chickens, rabbits, roosters, turtles, birds, ducks, geese, and even a llama! All of the animals are spayed and neutered, since these animals never get adopted out, they can't have too many that won't fit. The exception was two pregnant cows that accidentally got dropped off there instead of three llamas lol.
Our tour guide was Heather and she was terrific. She was so thorough, so full of knowledge, and her care and love for the animals, and the Manor in general really came through in her actions and her overall mannerisms. She truly believes in what she is doing and that's beautiful. We need more people like her and Mike in the world.
I truly want you to visit for yourself, so I'm gonna share just a few stories that really impacted me and a few photos, but they're nothing like being there.
The first story is about Giuseppe, who's a donkey and he looks EXACTLY like Donkey from Shrek. He came right up to me and was very friendly with all of the visitors. He apparently came from a big game farm, where people would bring in exotic animals and shoot them. I didn't know places like this could exist. It's another reminder of how cruel people can be to animals, and it's never something I will have the mental capacity to understand.
Another story that touched my heart was Bette, a big pig. As a piglet she actually fell off a farm truck, and a passer by picked her up and raised her until she became too pig to take care of. Chenoa Manor then took her in. While on the Manor itself, she actually got shot with a bow and arrow, by some asshole they never found out who, but here's what's amazing. Another pig, who had since passed away, actually pulled the arrow from her like by himself. And when she needed to leave to go get the vet care she needed (they have a vet close by that they work with and the vet sounds amazing), Bette was afraid to go. So this pig that has since passed, actually helped nudge Bette to the cart and helped her be less afraid, kind of like telling her it's okay don't be scared. Bette went and made a fun recovery. Another lesson we can learn from animals. Now a days, someone gets shot with a bow and arrow and some idiot records it instead of helping. You see videos like this all the time. Put the phone down and help. Simple as that. And to hear how smart and caring these pigs are, it just blows my mind and makes me sick how people can eat them.
One of the goats, Pricilla, was my favorite. She was very friendly and tried to eat the buttons of my sweater lol. She then nudged me from behind on my butt because she wanted attention. It was adorable!
Also, we got to meet most of the cows! Most were napping, but they got up. The big cow, Jamar, he was out roaming around, but we did see a glimpse of him. One of the baby cows, Ama, oh she was SO CUTE! Cows are literally giant dogs. She licked my hand and I was petting her. She really liked Kevin too. Another animal I'll never understand people wanting to eat. Your basically eating dogs when you eat cows. Their mannerisms and how they act are just like dogs. They're truly majestic creatures and I only wish we could've spent more time with them. But I understand the need for naps, so we respected that.
I left there feeling hope. After knowing what I know of factory farming, seeing these animals knowing that they can live out the remainder of their lives happy makes my heart happy. I felt emotional a few times hearing the stories of the animals, since most are of neglect and abuse. But that's all that's ever focused on, is the bad side. This is the good side. It restored my faith in humanity, these people have dedicated their lives and their money to caring for these animals. It reinforced in me a fact that I always knew, being vegan is the ONLY way to live. People lose that farm to table connection when they eat their food. What you're seeing here is animals that very easily could've been your dinner. Your dinner has a name. It's Bette, Ama, Bentley, Ovidio.. and a TON of others. Do your own research people. Eating animals is not only cruel and unnecessary, but it's immoral. And if that's not enough of a reason for you, then realize that factory farming is DESTROYING our planet. Going to this place reinforces the beliefs I have, and makes me that much happier to not be a part of the problem. Visit there. See for yourself. Get that connection back that we lose as we get older. If you would rather not come here, watch Cowspiracy. I physically can't watch it, it's too much for me to handle, but maybe if more people knew the truth and opened their eyes, they would see the way. I don't want to sound like a preachy vegan but if I am right now, fine. I will always be their voice and I will never be silenced!
At the end of the day, I hope you decide to visit for yourselves. For the animals, for the beauty that is Chenoa Manor, and for the passion that these people have. It was truly inspiring.
I'm gonna post a few of my favorite photos too, with some captions explaining them and what they are. Enjoy!