Being asked to write a guest post for another site is always an honor and a privilege, although I’ve struggled with this specific ask. I’m guessing its all in the timing. When I accepted the request to write, the world was as it was. I had no idea how things would change.
The original plan was that I would come in and write an “about Willowbrook Farms” post – but sadly, things were kinda thrown up in the air with the COVID-19 situation our world is facing. So perhaps a look at what we, as a sanctuary, are facing with the pandemic is more in order.
Yes, there is a financial impact but that is not our biggest concern. We actually try not to think beyond what is needed because for the last two years, God has provided when we needed.
We are thankful that we have supplies for “the now” – we refuse to worry about what we will do next because quite honestly, no one knows how long this is all going to last. We pray that we do not experience price-gouging by the time we are at a place we need to buy more feed. So far, when we have to go out, we do look at prices, and nothing has shifted yet.
Talking more globally about sanctuaries as a whole – there is a large impact. Additionally, even if a sanctuary thinks they have enough, there are areas in the world AND within the United States were feed/hay is not available OR local farmers are driving the prices up. This means that a sanctuary with limited funds may have budgeted for feed and hay at a certain price – but that price has either tripled or quadrupled in the last two weeks. It’s insane to think this is happening – even worse, its in our own back yard.
Being Small has its Perks
We are thankful that we are a very small sanctuary and that my job, while being pushed remote, has not ended. Because we are small, the majority of our needs are funded directly out of our pocket. We have done our best to not ‘outgrow the means’ that we do have – that means we have to say no a lot but we deal with that.
Right now we are thankful for all those times we had to say no because if we had stretched our financials any thinner, we would definitely be in trouble. While there are 23 non-human lives that depend on us, we are pretty sure we will be OK.
Because we are so small, we do not have a volunteer program . The WFAS “employees” consist of my husband, our son, our daughter, and me. Oh – and we are “unpaid staff” to boot.
For us, because it is just our family, we did not have to ‘let people go.’ I know there are larger sanctuaries out there that have employees and not only do these people have to worry about the animals in their care, but also what happens to employees who are laid off.
Emergencies Continue to Happen
With or without a pandemic, animals need help.
Since all of this started, we have lost Laverne and Louise. Shirley was admitted for an emergency procedure and came through with flying colors We were called to pick up a rooster (there were two animals but only the rooster survived being left on a road). A predator is too close for comfort so the flock is on full lock down. We are giving them limited, supervised time until they have a safe space for daytime activities… which means, we are trying to raise funds and build chicken runs at the same time.
The physical and emotional tolls of animal sanctuary life are very real. There is absolutely nothing I could have done to prepare for loss or the fears associated to emergency needs. I know people frequently comment on our social media posts about how they would love to do what we do – honestly, I would encourage anyone that has this as their passion to just do it … but I would definitely warn against the emotional battles you will have daily.
We have no choice but to stay strong.
Today is the Same as Yesterday is the Same as Tomorrow
I was asked what we will do as soon as the quarantine time is lifted. I thought for a moment and realized … pretty much the same as we are doing right now.
In truth – it feels kinda “strange” to say that my life really hasn’t been altered that much. I do work from home instead of driving into the office – but that’s a silver-lining because I’m saving gas money and time. We never really went out to eat because there are limited restaurants and none of them near us are plant-based friendly. Movies? Maybe once or twice a year if the schedules align… besides, isn’t that what the Netflix DVDs are for?
Owning and operating an animal sanctuary may seem like glamorous work – but its really isolating work. We rarely go out beyond supplies (building materials, animal feed, people feed, medical need). Our time is spent on the farm. So perhaps alongside my before-mentioned “emotional battle” element of sanctuary life, I’d also give warning to the isolating factor.
In the end – its worth it.
Love is all you need
In full transparency, I’m not sure how to end this post.
So to end, I started thinking about why we do what we do. If sanctuary life is so painfully emotional … why did we throw our entire “normal” life away to do this? Why do we accept people mocking us or down-talking us for what we do? People make fun of our choices on social media and sometimes even to our face. Sadly, we are no different from anyone else living a plant-based, cruelty-free existence. People will mock what they don’t understand, right?
But I do want to call out that now, especially now, we are being bombarded with images and video of greed, hate, and selfishness. Social Media can be a wonderful thing but it can also put a magnifying glass over all that is wrong with the world. It can be disheartening listening to the news or looking at images of empty grocery shelves. Stories of people going without or people being forced into situations they normally would not find themselves.
I challenge you to please be part of the solution. Look to the acts of good that are going on and if possible, contribute where you can. Something as simple as offering to go buy groceries for an elderly neighbor can change the tone of your day. And when your tone changes, it can change how you look at the world.
God’s final and eternal commandment can be simply wrapped into one word: Love.
Please – just love.
Note from the editor: Plant-Based Nation explores many plant-based lifestyles and practices in an effort to promote education and outreach about plant-based living. We want to thank Crystal with Willowbrook Farms for sharing her sanctuary mission with our followers.