New York Farm Sanctuary

Today I visited the Farm Sanctuary headquarters in Watkins Glen New York. It rescues and provides a high quality of life for animals that are donated, abandoned or were previously abused in factory farms. On a tour, I got to see, touch the animals, and also hear about their life histories before and after coming to the Farm Sanctuary. Some of the animals I met were cows, goats, turkeys, chickens, and pigs.

I was especially interested in the sheep after reading that a lamb, Romy, was recently rescued in the NY Farm Sanctuary. When I visited, he was in the animal hospital, so I wasn’t able to see him, but here is the touching story that led me to want to visit the Sanctuary:

Romy, NY Farm Shelter, Photo by Farm Sanctuary, 2015
Romy, NY Farm Shelter, Photo by Farm Sanctuary, 2015

Romy lamb has come a long way since he began life on a permaculture farm in central New York State. He was one of a pair of twins, and his mother rejected him. At the time the babies were born, the weather was unseasonably harsh, with cold, heavy rains and overnight temperatures in the 40s. As others in the flock headed to shelter from the storm, this little lamb was likely too weak to accompany them and he was left to fend for himself. When farm staff found Romy, his desperate medical needs were beyond the farm’s capacity to fulfill. 

At an industrial farm, Romy would have been left to die, but at this farm, staff cared about him. Though they could not provide the treatment he needed, they did the right thing and sought help. They brought him to our New York Shelter, and that decision saved his life. – from

It was great to learn more about the Farm Sanctuary, but I am saddened by their anti-wool statements and supplementary literature that discourages people from wearing wool since sheep don’t have to be killed in the process. Shearing is like a hair cut and a part of caring for the animal. Their argument against wool use is that the animals are in small spaces, get sheared, injured, and get slaughtered for meat (though it depends on the age and breed of animal). The treatment of animals varies from farm to farm. I’ve met a lot of farmers with small farms who love and care for their animals. The farmers also have extensive knowledge about their animals’ personality characteristics and life histories. Several farmer authors in the Northeast highlight how their sheep, goats, and alpacas lead high quality of lives (Barbara Parry, Ingrid Wood, Sylvia Jorrin). Anti-wool statements seem very extreme, especially since there are many opportunities to learn about the animal welfare of sheep and goats in New York through open farm days, and the annual Washington County Fiber Tour.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. wspines says:

    Thank you so much for the info on the Farm Sanctuary..I always held them in high esteem but am very disturbed at their anti wool stance. I have been spinning for over 30 years and raising sheep for over 20. Most of the sheep I have had were going to auction or the meat market and came to live out their lives here on my small farm. The wool and yarn that I sell or use in my spinning classes goes to pay for their care. IN my classes I educate my students on care of sheep and where they can find one of the many sheep that needs a home. Education is the key I hope they will rethink their stance on this . Again my thanks go to you for sharing this.

    1. Helen Trejo says:

      Thanks for sharing your story! It is great to learn about your work with helping sheep and giving them a place to live. I especially like how the spinning classes are helping to take care for the animals. It is a great model.

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