Mother’s Day at the Sanctuary Sunday, May 14, 2017 Today is Mother’s Day. I am feeling such a mix of sadness and gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunity to be around mother animals here at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, but sadness in knowing how many billions of mother animals are being harmed right now. Animals on farms rarely get to raise their children. They are used to reproduce and then the babies are taken away. Mother animals have it especially hard on industrial factory farms. Mother cows see their children stolen immediately and bellow for days in despair. Pigs – among the best mothers in the animal world – are separated from their piglets soon after giving birth. Others, such as egg-laying chickens, are just used for that one act of reproduction: laying an egg, again and again and again, until they are no longer as fertile and then are killed. To be a mother farmed animal is to be traumatized and abused. At sanctuaries, we usually get solitary animals. They are often very young and have just escaped from slaughterhouses or live-kill markets. Or they have been rescued as strays and we don’t know their stories. They come to us without families and build them once they are safe with us, making lifelong friendships. But occasionally, we are able to rescue mothers with their babies. Those family units are so sacred not only because they are rare but because they teach us that these animals we objectify and use as means of production are, indeed, just like us. They keep those bonds their whole lives and often prefer the company of their families even when they are quite old. Momma, a sweet young pig who was rescued with her five piglets in October of 2015, was hiding in a dilapidated barn in a pile of filthy straw on the property of a “backyard butcher” when we first saw her. Her little piglets were nestled around her as she was caring for them despite the conditions and fear surrounding her. She was so scared of us. But once we brought them to the Sanctuary, she relaxed and her babies started to run around and play with her. 18 months later, Momma and her kids (Michael, Sara, Erica, Duke, and Buster) are still a family and meet hundreds of visitors a month. They will live out their lives together. Today, on Mother’s Day, we are so thankful for those mothers who are able to care for their babies here at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. We think of those mothers who live out their lives in fear and sorrow, often never meeting their babies or only seeing them as they are being taken away. We think of the sorrowful cries of dairy cows, and the suffering of egg laying chickens, and the daily torture of pigs in gestation crates. These are all mothers who are brutally exploited for the thing that we are celebrating today…the ability to make and sustain life. We share so much in common with these animals that we call farmed animals. We should extend to them the same kindness that we would want to have ourselves. Here at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, we continue to care for those we can, while working toward a day when all mothers can have a chance to be at peace with those they love. We are spending a lot of time lately taking care of ten new little charges, the Lucky Ducklings,who were rescued just over a week ago. They will never know their mothers but will live lives full of love here. Thank you for making that possible through your support, your compassion, and your advocacy. For the animals, Rachel McCrystal Executive Director P.S. That is Sara in the photo with me. She was one of the baby piglets rescued with Momma in 2015. We are so grateful to have her and her family with us.