My first visit to an animal sanctuary

Catskill Farm Sanctuary

I  haven’t blogged for so long because, how do I put my experience of such love and happiness into words?

Well, I’m going to give it a try.

Our first sighting of the green fields of Catskill Farm Sanctuary was breathtaking. I love the colour green and I love fields. I especially love knowing that contented animals are enjoying themselves, without limit or fear.

I was happy.

My sister and I raced down the twisting road that lead into the sunshine on the green fields. Our first sanctuary visit had begun.

running to CAS

We  were met by two inquisitive goats named Arthur and Stencil. To their delight we enjoyed the cool shade of a willow tree while pulling down the high branches for these hungry goats to eat the juicy green leaves.  To me goats seem similar to dogs. They are intelligent and have kind eyes. They also reminded me of our dog Trix, just as greedy for their food!

feeding Stencil at CAS

We all need to share our love, so we knelt down to Jailbird and Emmet, two huge cockerels who were patiently waiting at our feet. To our delight Erica, the Homestead manager, encouraged us to pick them up! With no objections from us, we scooped them up with great pleasure. It was then that my creative juices started flowing. I made up this video poem:

vegan whisperer

We then went inside the shady barn where the horses came in after 3 pm. We bonded with Bobby a blind horse, Mirage a horse with a hurt jaw and forgiving Noah who has learnt to trust humans again.


After much loved time it was the pigs turn. Moses, Ginger, the sweet potbellied Shy Girl, Miss Piggerty and all their friends are so kind and their intelligence shows.  Apparently pigs have the intelligence of a 5-year old child, that’s a lot. Even if they didn’t though, they are worth our respect and to live without being killed for their body flesh.  We hugged, snuggled and watched them as time flew by.

Moses and I


Miss Piggerty







We walked around the fields and the peaceful pond seeing all the chickens, cows, bunnies, sheep and ducks. When we got hungry we ate the ripe juicy fruits of a mulberry tree.

eating mulberries

Talking about food I must mention the breakfasts that Erica treated us to at their Homestead. The first morning we enjoyed pancakes with syrup and strawberries. The next morning we hungrily ate tasty scrambled tofu with veggies. On our last morning at the Sanctuary my sister and I helped make our family some waffles.

made a waffle

Then it was time to head off to say goodbye to our new friends, but I’m sure it’s not forever.








Sweet temptations

For me as a kid, (and can I assume you too?) the temptation of sweets is huge! In fact when shopping with my Mom at Fruit & Veg I ran straight past the fresh stuff to get to the sweet section.  I was after watermelon, but some how it’s not the real watermelon that attracted my attention, but rather cute little watermelon shaped balls. I was prepared to pay for them myself – I wanted them!!


Yummy chemicals?

Hold on, first I had to check if they had gelatin in them. But I was in for a bigger surprise! There was a whole lot of ingredients I couldn’t even pronounce!!!  Where was the food in all this?


Bugs anyone?

Other than eating a whole lot of chemicals, us kids are eating a whole lot of bugs! Did you know that? I didn’t until I was looking up what our pretty pink cake decorations had in them.  Turns out there are boiled, steamed, or cooked, and then ground up beetles in these tempting little shinnies.


What, bugs in my food?! I learnt that cochineal beetles are commonly used in things that have a red colour, like some cool drinks lipsticks and many sweets. What you want to avoid on the ingredient list is: cochineal, carmine, carminic acid, crimson lake, natural red #40, or E120, because it’s all the same thing.


Like some bugs’ bodily fluid?

So Carmine is made from the insect body itself. There’s more – Shellac is something unappetising that also fills our stomachs.  It’s a sticky substance secreted by the female lac bug (this insect is in the same cochineal family). The insects suck the sap of the tree and excrete “stick-lac” onto the bark. People scrape this off the bark and made it into ‘food’.

Ordering skin & bones?

Why aren’t we more grossed out that our sweets are made out of skin and bones? Why is it okay that our mothers are buying this for us and that we are asking for it? I think it’s because we look at these beautiful, colourful and tempting sweets and forget what they really look like – skin & bones.


A fresher, juicer and kinder temptation

I now want to go straight to the fresh, mouth-watering watermelon! Or decorate our delicious cupcakes with fruit or vegan sprinkles and marshmallows. My pretty lipstick is from LUSH and The Body Shop. (That’s worth licking my lips for!)


Don’t get me wrong, I still love sweets and eat plenty of them, but I choose smartly, no bugs or skins for me!


My first public protest

I’ve always felt such sadness for the dogs on the streets.  Especially in Qatar, my old home, and Turkey, on a recent holiday.  When I moved to Knysna, (Western Cape South Africa), I hadn’t seen dogs on the street, so I thought life for dogs was a lot better here.  Then we got an email from our local animal welfare society asking us to attend a dog fighting protest.

What, dog fighting?

First I felt a bit like protesting might be an aggressive action, but I was torn because I wanted to do something for these dogs.  I distracted myself by making a great big, meaningful poster.   Mom assured us that there was two types of protests, a badly-vibed one and a peaceful one.


Our friend Elaine who works with Knysna Animal Welfare Society (KAWS) is such a big-hearted person that I knew this would be a friendly protest.

On the first morning of the protest there was a big crowd and our national television cameras were there.  I felt lively and united with all the other caring, like-minded people.  In my soul it felt like I was doing just what was right for me! Unfortunately the trial was postponed until the next day, and while we all came back the TV crew didn’t as Nelson Mandela sadly passed away the night before.

What I found so cool was a T-shirt worn by a big-chested, big-hearted lady that read, “Real Men Fight Crime Not Dogs!”

Here’s a video (caution – graphic content!) on this particular dog fighting group of people who call themselves ‘DOGMEN’. I think it’s horrifying how these humans can just stand there and watch dogs kill each other.  I couldn’t believe that these cruel people are actually professionals and maybe even fathers!

In 2014 I hope to participate in more activities that bring awareness to animal welfare and really protect these kind and loving animals.

My school visit to a bee farm

I know some vegans eat honey but I just don’t. I just would rather eat sweet, sticky syrup.

I felt uncertain about going to a bee farm. At first I thought I wouldn’t go. Then I though why not, I could find out a bit about how they treat the bees and share it with you guys on my blog.


Through my Mom’s vegan friends we found 10 questions that would help me get an idea of what’s going on at a bee farm. Here are the questions and answers.

  1. Me: When do you harvest the honey? Her: When the bees have enough and the hive is overflowing, during summer, spring and autumn.
  2. Me: What replacement food do the bees get over harvesting times? Her: Fynbos.
  3. Me: Do your bees get moved to fields for pollination? Her: No! We would never do that it makes them very sick.
  4. Me: How do you protect and care for your bees?  Her: We rescue them from domestic homes and other places they could threaten people and put them into a safer environment. 
  5. Me: How many bees do you lose each season? Her: They all die each season.
  6. Me: Why do they die? Her: They work until their wings can’t work anymore and they are so tired and worn out.
  7. Me: What is the bees lifespan? Her: In summer they live up to 28 days and in winter they live up to as long as 3 months.
  8. Me: What happens to the queen bees? Her: They leave the hive once she has had a lot of babies.
  9. Me: Why did you become a bee keeper? Her: We had hives near our vegetable patch to pollinate the plants and then we fell in love with their personalities and wanted to help them. (I don’t get how keeping them helps them)
  10. Me: How will this bee farm help to look after the local bee pollution? Her: Schools coming here to learn how important they (bees) are brings awareness to their importance.

I’m glad I went because I learnt a lot and got a feel for what happens on this small-scale bee farm. I still feel assured that I will not eat honey and will stick with the sweet, sticky syrup. This type of bee keeping farm would perhaps suit vegans who still choose to eat honey.

Thanks to Victoria Moran for suggesting these two movies, which I plan to watch Queen of the Sun and Disappearance of the Bees