Sunny Day Farms Volunteer Workshop

Feed me. Groom me. Love me.

Interested in learning how to care for farm animals? Or just want to hug a sheep for a bit (before mucking out a chicken coop)? Sunny Day Farms Animal Sanctuary outside San Antonio is hosting a volunteer orientation Saturday, February 23, from 10 AM to 2 PM.

I’ve written about Sunny Day a million times, but I can’t say enough how much they do for farm animals and our community. Sunny Day provides homes to animals that have been abused, abandoned, neglected, or just treated like any other animal at a factory farm (i.e., terribly). But moreover Sunny Day teaches Central Texas about the lives of these animals and what we can do to improve them. Volunteers are vital to keep the animal sanctuary up and running.

Every week volunteers come to the farm, taking a few hours out of their busy lives to answer that persistent and urgent question by giving their time to SDF. These volunteers truly are the center of the farm. Some are here to gain experience in animal care to help them in future endeavors. Some are here simply because they love animals and will do anything to be around them. Others come because they love SDF and want to give back in a special, meaningful way. Whatever the reason, their tireless commitment to the farm and the animals is invaluable. We are forever grateful to be included in their answer to “life’s most persistent and urgent question.” Would YOU like to become a volunteer at the farm and learn to care for farmed animals? We are having an impromptu Volunteer Workshop next Saturday, February 23, from 10am-2pm. We know that this is completely last minute; however, we will be planning another workshop in the spring. These workshops are designed to educate those with or without prior farm experience to care for farmed animals at SDF. Please bring a sack lunch. Drinks will be provided. To register or for more information, please call Brooke at 210.508.8302

Shop for the Animals

Not like this. Photo by maury.mccown. Licensed under creative commons

If there’s one thing being an American has taught me, it’s that the best way to support your favorite cause is to go shopping. Just kidding. Buying pink scissors doesn’t help women, and buying a chicken sandwich certainly doesn’t help humans. Or chickens.

But occasionally this buying thing actually works. On Saturday, August 11, over 35 businesses have pledge to give 10% of their sales for the day to three animal sanctuaries: Out to Pasture Sanctuary, Hope Animal Sanctuary, and Chimp Sanctuary Northwest. The goal is to raise $20,000.

The Century part of “Sanctuary Century” refers to a 100 mile bike ride fundraiser to for these sanctuaries. If shopping isn’t your thing, you can donate directly to sponsor the riders.

Texas participating businesses include Happy Vegan Bakery, Rabbit Food Grocery, and Capital City Bakery. If you’re not in Austin or just don’t need any more cupcakes/soy curls/brownies, many online businesses are participating, too. A full list is available on the Sanctuary Century Facebook page.

Primarily Primates

Deeter the Leader. Image from Primarily Primates website.

Did you know that Texas is home to one of the largest primate rescue sanctuaries in the United States? Primarily Primates is home to hundred of animals, many of them abandoned pets or former lab animals. Primarily Primates was recently featured in the San Antonio Express as part of their Grace of Giving series. The Express thinks Primarily Primates is pretty awesome, and I agree.

Check out the feature story here. And be sure to take a look at the photo of the cage the sanctuary’s first chimpanzee arrived in.

News Bites from around Vegan Texas

Counter Culture's new Cesar Chavez space

Take a sneak peek at the photos of Counter Culture’s new space in East Austin. There’s so much to work with there.

My friends Crystal and Chris at Food for Lovers have teamed up with vegan crafters to make some unique holiday gifts. I’m not a holiday person, but I never turn down queso.

Dallas Vegan has a review of the Fort Worth Food Park. A year ago, DFW didn’t really have much of a food truck scene to speak of. Now there’s an entire area of vegan-friendly spots.

A possible new location near Llano for Sunny Day Farms

Sunny Day Farms is moving to a location closer to Austin! Don’t worry San Antonio, they’ll still be close to you, too. Brooke is looking at a location in Blanco. This will make it easier for the farm to reach people in both Austin and San Antonio. Sunny Day will need tons of help to relocate all the animals, both physically and monetarily.

The latest rumor is that Sweet Ritual will be opening in January. Crossing my fingers for ice cream in the new year.

Houston can look forward to some new vegan grub in 2012. Ripe Cuisine will be selling vegan food at Urban Harvest Farmers Markets early next year. Ripe Cuisine has been tweeting about Green Chili Burgers, Pumpkin Pecan Cupcakes with Maple Cream Frosting, and a mushroom French dip. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

And dessert for last! After years of hard work, Celeste of Celeste’s Best is selling ready-to-bake (or eat with a spoon, no judgement!) vegan cookie dough at Wheatsville Coop. Right now there’s traditional chocolate chip, but Celeste is planning to branch out into other flavors and other stores in the future.

Garage Sale Benefiting Sunny Day on Sunday

A garage sale benefitting Sunny Day Farms is being held Sunday from 8 AM to 3:30 PM at 713 Shade Tree Dr in Austin. The sale will include desks, books, toys, games, clothing, kitchen items, and household goods, and all the money goes to Sunny Day Farms. Along with all the items for sale, there will be baked goods. Because vegans can’t NOT bake when there’s money to be raised. More details on Facebook.

In case you’ve been under a rock, Sunny Day Farms is a wonderful farm animal sanctuary outside of San Antonio. The excessive heat and drought has made the price of hay skyrocket. And without any grass growing, Sunny Day needs more hay than ever.

I’m so impressed with all the creative fundraisers for Sunny Day. Keep up the good work!

Dinner Benefitting Primarily Primates in San Antonio

Primarily Primates, an animal sanctuary in San Antonio that cares for castoff pets and former lab animals, is holding a fundraiser dinner on June 3 at 7 PM at the Radius Circle. The meal will be catered by San Antonio’s premier vegetarian restaurant, Green Vegetarian. A donation of $35 gets you dinner, dessert, and a nonalcoholic beverage. There will also be a cash bar featuring wine and beer, a silent auction, and music by Parke Hedges and Graham Hall.

No mention whether vegan food will be available, though I’d be surprised if it wasn’t. Green makes some fantastic vegan desserts. You can get more information by contacting Primarily Primates at 830-755-4616 or emailing them. RSVP online.

Primarily Primates throws a great party. For proof,  see this video of a Watermelon Party at the sanctuary. Check out that little guy carrying the watermelon with his feet while he swings from the top of the habitat cage. [Note: watermelon-carrying apes not guaranteed to appear at all Primarily Primates parties.]

Follow-up: Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale 2011

All five Texas Worldwide Vegan Bake Sales took place this weekend. Don’t they look fabulous?

El Paso raised $400 for Animal Rescue League! Among the other goodies were these tasty-looking pumpkin spice cupcakes. Photo by El Paso Veg Snob
Box of goodies at the Dallas bake sale. Rumor is the kolaches were a big hit. Dallas raised over $2500 for Direct Relief International in Japan. Photo by sunnybear
Donuts and chocolate cookies flew off the table at the Austin sale. Austin raised over $1000 for Sunny Day Farms Animal Sanctuary. That’s enough money to pay for half a month’s food for the over 300 animals at the farm. Photo by Come and Fake It
The Vegan Society of Peace bake sale raised $811 for VegFest Houston, Food for Life Global, and Kinship Circle. Way to go Houston! I haven’t heard back from San Antonio yet. Green, how’d y’all do?

In total, Worldwide Vegan Bake Sales in Texas raised nearly $5000 for seven charities. This is the most successful year yet!

UPDATE: Green sold 163 desserts and donated $1 from each dessert sale to SARA. News is their desserts were just voted 3rd best in all of San Antonio by San Antonio Current readers. Awesome!

Farm Sanctuaries in Texas

Sweet Pea, from Sunny Day Farms. Sweet Pea was lucky enough to be found by the kind folks at Sunny Day Farms, rather than “euthanized” with a pick ax by workers at E-6 Cattle Company. Photo from Sunny Day Farms

Farm animal abuse videos are really important. There’s evidence that they decrease the amount of meat people eat. On average, people who see these videos don’t just switch from, say, beef to chicken, but actually reduce the total amount of meat they eat.

But they’re hard on animal advocates, who already know all the terrible things that can happen to animals raised for commercial use. I really admire the people who can take these undercover videos, since I can’t bare to watch even thirty seconds of them, much less experience it in person.

Confronting images of animal abuse can get you down if you’re already doing what you can to end animal cruelty. I think it’s a good idea for animal advocates to recharge through positive experiences with animals. Farm animal sanctuaries are a great way to do that. They allow people to interact with animals, learning that, yes, a pig does have a personality, just like a dog or cat. And they have the added benefit of not making you want to curl up in a ball in your bed for a week.

Texas has three farm animal sanctuaries devoted to caring for abused and unwanted farm animals. I’ve talked a lot about Sunny Day Farms in La Coste, outside San Antonio. A big part of Sunny Day Farms’ mission is to introduce kids to farm animals. You can schedule a school field trip or Farm School, an age-appropriate introduction to life on the farm through stories, activities, and interaction with the animals.

Willey at Serenity Springs Sanctuary. Photo by Serenity Springs Sanctuary

There’s also Serenity Springs Sanctuary in Forestburg, Texas, northwest of DFW. Serenity Springs has a variety of farm animals at their sanctuary, though they specialize in pot bellied pigs. These pigs are increasingly kept as pets, and often owners find out quickly that they’re not up to caring for a pig.

Chester at Dreamtime Sanctuary. Photo by Dreamtime Sanctuary

Dreamtime Sanctuary is just outside Elgin, a little east of Austin. Dreamtime Sanctuary began when Nancy Jensen-Case and her daughter wanted to help abandoned horses in a neighboring pasture. With a little help from a sanctuary in Arizona, Dreamtime is now the home of 14 horses, 3 burros, 30 sheep, 8 goats, 18 pigs, 8 dogs, and 14 cats.

All three organizations encourage visitors and volunteers, though it’s a good idea to schedule a visit ahead of time. Volunteer with some friends. Take your favorite kid to pet the animals. Or plan a bake sale to raise money for your favorite sanctuary.