Those familiar with Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary know that there is a resident, (the only one of his kind at the sanctuary), Freckles, the great cow. I have written about Freckles before and had the biggest honor of meeting him. He’s sweet kind and gentle. He followed my son and me along the fence as we toured Cotton Branch, visiting its residents and handing out apples as treats along the way. I always knew cows were amazing creatures and it was my dream to meet one. This day made that dream come true. Freckles, along with the other residents at Cotton Branch, just further confirmed my values that all creatures that walk this planet are sentient beings and should be treated as equals.
Want to know some reasons why cows are the coolest? Check out the list below and visit Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary today and see for yourself! Not only will your mind and heart be opened by some of the most amazing people and animals on the planet, but you will forever be changed, (in the best way I promise!).
- Just like us, cows form really close relationships with certain cows, dislike others, and can even hold grudges for years, (really sounds like some humans, huh?). They are also extremely social and do not like to spend time alone.
- Mother cows are not only devoted mothers, but care highly for their young and have been known to walk miles to find them.
- Cows have an excellent sense of smell! They can smell something more than five miles away.
- Cows are curious and can be found investigating things that they do not know much about.
- Did you know that cows can hear better than humans? They actually hear lower and higher frequencies than us!
- Cows love music and have been known to sway or congregate for a good “concert.” Check it out!
- Cows have panoramic vision (up to 360 degrees)! Oh, and they are also red-green colorblind.
- Mother cows have the same gestation period as humans. They carry their babies for 9 months in their womb.
- Cows get excited and act proud when they solve problems, (i.e. brainwaves show excitement, they jump in the air, and their heartrate went up).
- Cows can live for more than 20 years! Sadly, their sweet lives are taken way too soon in the meat and dairy industry, (i.e. cows in the meat industry are lucky to see their second birthday).
**Facts were shared by loving caregivers and from the following links. For more information about the above facts or to read more cool facts, please visit:
We All Need Humane Education: 10 Things You Can Do Today to Learn How to Make the World a Better Place
1. Have a humane educator come and speak at/to your school, scout group meeting, special event, or even plan a field trip!! Request a representative from Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary come to your classroom or even schedule a trip to the sanctuary! Cotton Branch has teamed up with the Humane League- Charlotte and offers well-rounded and very educational, humane education talks on how to eat kind, why it's important, and how to change the world for farm animals! Check it out here and contact Josh today to schedule a humane education presentation!
2. Shop locally! This not only helps your community, but it also allows you to meet your local produce farmers and see where your food comes from, as well as see what they do to help the environment.
3. Volunteer at an animal shelter, rescue, or sanctuary! When you work with the animals, whether it's during feeding time, building shelters, walking dogs, socializing with pigs, you learn about these animals and get to know them. It makes you think twice before wanting to eat meat or buy a dog from a pet store or breeder.
4. Plant a garden! When you plant a garden, you not only eat healthier, but you help the planet! Whether you have a plot of land or flowers in a pot, (even a windowsill herb garden), it all counts! Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, will thank you!
5. Get schooled on animal overpopulation from a veterinarian, animal shelter worker, or a humane educator. There are thousands of animals in shelters right now, including farm sanctuaries, looking for their forever homes. Adopt, don't shop!
6. Reduce, reuse, and recycle, (and refuse)! Everything can be used again, and if it can't, there is usually a product out there that you can buy instead of the disposable variety and you’ll be able to reuse it over and over again. For example, instead of using plastic straws, refuse them, (politely!), when you’re buying a drink in public and bring/buy a stainless steel straw instead. Try to not use plastic as well, (a lot of it isn't actually recyclable). Make sure to check labels on the bottom of the product to see if it can be recycled in your area.
7. Compost those food scraps! Apple cores, banana peels, wood chips, grass clippings, fallen leaves, sticks, cardboard, newspaper, vegetable scraps, and more! Most food is compostable and doesn't need to be in the trash, but instead in a compost bin! Even if you don't garden, composting is a great way to reduce trash that goes in landfills, (and no, it unfortunately doesn't really compost very well at the landfill when it's with all of that other trash that can't be composted). Foods that don’t compost well and will just attract wildlife include: dairy products and meat, (but if we are eating kind, we won't have these products to even dispose of).
8. Eat a kind diet! For the animals, the planet, and yourself, steer clear of animal products. Animals suffer immensely when they are exploited (not just for food, but in the name of entertainment, the clothing industry, animal experimentation, etc.). Not only do animals suffer, but so do the planet and our bodies. Forests are being cleared to make room for "cattle grazing", oceans are being depleted because of overfishing, farm animal feces contaminate ground water, raising animals for meat has a huge carbon footprint, and the list goes on. Than what is there to eat? Check out the following links for some tips, yummy recipes and information on how to transition to eating kind!
9. Volunteer your time to help those in need! A big part of humane education is learning to be kind to others, not just the animals and the environment, but other humans. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, become a foster parent, start a clothing drive: the list of activities to help one another goes on and on.
10. Share a meal! Share a meal with friends, family, neighbors or even strangers! Start a kind potluck group and share yummy, veg recipes! If you want, try to schedule a volunteer day at Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary and bring some of those delicious veggies/fruits to share with the animals, (they'll definitely enjoy just as much as you)!
*Feeds roughly 4 people, unless you’re really hungry or want it as a main course, (which is TOTALLY recommended)!
-5 or 6 organic red potatoes
-2 small, organic zucchini
-2 small, organic yellow squash
1 large, sweet onion
½-1 Tbsp. of garlic salt*
1 tsp. of ground black pepper*
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil*
1-2 Tbsp. of dairy-free, plant based butter (try Earth Balance Butter! It’s amazing!)*
*Feel free to add more or less of these spreads or seasonings according to your taste buds!
- Place extra virgin olive oil in a heated skillet, (keep skillet on medium to high heat during the entire cooking process)
- Add chopped onion. Cook with frequent stirring until onions are translucent.
- After onions are translucent, add in chopped zucchini, potatoes, and squash. Give a gracious stir. FYI: Make sure to chop these veggies into small cubes/ rectangular shapes. If your pieces are big, they will take longer to cook.
- Add in your plant-based butter, pepper, and garlic salt. Give it a quick stir to mix everything together.
- Place a lid on the skillet. Make sure the goodness cooking is cooked on medium to high heat, with frequent stirs. It should take around 20-25 minutes for all veggies to be soft and beginning to brown. You can check the tenderness of the veggies with a fork to be sure throughout the cooking process.
- When completed, serve immediately! If not, you’ll be missing out, but it is still good cold too. Just make sure to not burn your tongue! This dish can be eaten hot or cold and as a main course, (which I frequently do), or a side dish.
The "microsanctuary" movement has gained attention and momentum over the last few years, and this has many of us in farm animal rescue concerned. To understand the multiple layers of concerns, we must look at the positives and the negatives.
The only real positive is the possibility of animals being saved, that said, the overall cost and impact on animal rescue could end up causing more harm and LESS animals saved. Read on to see how.
Here's the number one issue: when a microsanctuary incorporates as a non-profit and actively seeks donations to care for the few animals they are able to take in, this takes away funding from larger, more experienced sanctuaries and forces them to not take more animals in due to funding. Even if the larger sanctuary has room, the funding must be there to cover each animal taken in so the level of care remains the same for the existing residents at said sanctuary. And many of these microsanctuaries actively market themselves, are social network and internet savvy, and, since they have so few animals, have plenty of time to fundraise. This literally prevents sanctuaries who could save many more animals from doing so.
Sufficient room for farm animals is another concern. We work so hard as animal activists to get major companies to give their animals more space, and room to roam; it seems unfair that even though some animals are saved from confinement, they don't have large pastures to spend their lives in and enjoy.
Transport vehicles large enough to carry large animals is also a frequent issue. I've seen well funded microsanctuaries whose only vehicle was a subcompact car. They are unable to assist in transporting animals; and even have several animals who they could not transport to a vet, or evacuate in case of emergency.
Hoarding is a real issue too. There is a fine line between hoarding cases and microsanctuaries. Most of these cases involve people who are not soliciting enough funding, but are continuing to take in more animals than they have room for, or can handle and afford. This leads to unhealthy conditions, as well as sick and unhappy animals. The larger sanctuaries must step up and take in any animals not euthanized when seized by state and local animal controls.
Even when some microsanctuaries are well funded, and keep their resident population to a bare minimum, it causes a problem for the rest of us. When they are contacted by someone asking them to save an animal in need, some say they will help, and then contact a larger sanctuary. I have seen them rely on the larger sanctuary, or rescue group, to fundraise for vet bills, to transport, to foster and find permanent placement, and to even take on the lifetime care of these animals the microsanctuary “rescues.” Of course then the microsanctuary usually makes sure to spread the word to all of their followers and donors that they are the ones responsible for saving this animal in need.
Another issue that arises is the failure, and subsequent closure, of these microsanctuaries and the need for those of us with larger sanctuaries to "pick up the pieces" and save the animals for whom they can no longer provide care. We have seen some completely abandoned, with even the animals left to starve.
All this said, I applaud anyone who wishes to help and rescue animals in need. Two of our friends live in our city and have 11 chickens, 3 pot belly pigs, 4 dogs, 15 cats, a Russian Tortoise, and a Bearded Dragon. They have their lot laid out perfectly to give proper space to the chickens and pigs. The cats have 24/7 access to their own play room attached to the side of their house. The dogs live indoors too, but have a lovely yard in which to play. Their tortoise has an amazing outdoor area to play in and snack. With all these animals, they literally exceed the population of animals at many microsanctuaries, but the big difference is that they consider them their rescues and their responsibilities. They ask for no donations from anyone,and they've not applied for a non profit status; on the contrary, one actually serves on the board of a larger sanctuary and volunteers regularly there, as well as helping with transport and donations to multiple others.
If someone has 2 or 3 or 4 acres, or even less, and wants to save animals, please do so! But if you do, please provide adequate pastures for farm animals; please be ready to be personally and financially responsible, and not cut into the funding and ability of larger sanctuaries to save many more animals; please make sure you have proper vehicles for transporting larger animals; make sure you have a large animal vet who can care for them and make mobile house calls.
There are many large sanctuaries out there who just need additional fencing, additional barns and housing, and a little more funding to be able to take in more animals. They have the room, they just need the funding. Anyone taking funding away from these larger sanctuaries with room to expand, is doing a great disservice to farm animals in need.
This raw-some, cruelty-free recipe was inspired by Julia, the wonderful woman behind the vlog, Julia Dreads. Check out her video here, (she talks about making a rawnola mixture around 0:54 until 1:30). While the recipe I use below is not the same, her video inspired the making of this recipe and introduced me to the idea of raw granola. Remember folks, please pit your dates prior to putting them in your blender or food processor, (otherwise you will be stuck sifting out date pits from your final product).
*Recipe makes around 2 servings.
½ c. organic rolled oats
¼ c. shredded coconut
6 organic dates (pitted)
2 Tbsp. flaxseeds
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
½ pineapple chunks
6 blueberries (optional)
- Add rolled oats, shredded coconut, flaxseed, dates, and agave to blender or food processor and blend.
- Place pineapple chunks, (however much you like to taste), in the bottom of a bowl.
- Pour granola mixture on top of pineapple chunks.
- Top granola with a few blueberries, (blueberries are totally optional in this recipe, but I LOVE them, so they were added for flavor and color).
- Drop what you’re doing and enjoy!
For Pokey, the fourth time is definitely the charm! Unfortunately, Pokey’s story starts with a bunch of jumping houses and no place to truly call “home.” When Pokey’s original family acquired him, he was labeled as a “miniature” pot belly pig, (but was really a farm pig). They lived in an apartment and eventually decided to re-home him to another family. After some time with his second family, a third family stepped up and rescued him from that home. The third family had a farm with lots of room for Pokey, but then the unthinkable happened. Pokey’s third family lost their farm, forcing them to make the tough decision to re-home all of their animals, (including Pokey). Pokey, heartbroken and depressed from each move to a different family, finally found refuge at Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary with the help of its amazingly kind and compassionate team of volunteers!
His third family was told that Pokey was only 4 years old at the time of their rescue, but after observation it appears that he is much older. Pokey suffers from arthritis and has only little movement in his back legs. He is now on a treatment plan, which includes medication and supplements to help him regain any mobility and decrease pain.
Pokey is a kind, gentle and loving soul, who treasures his relationship with humans. Happily, Pokey has found his forever home at Cotton Branch, where he will not only eat amazing grub, have room to roam and root, and get the medical treatment he needs, but also get all of the love and attention that he could ever imagine, (as well as play with his soccer ball anytime he wants).
Because of Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary, Pokey can now receive all of the attention and care that he deserves. Dedicated volunteers and donors make it possible for Cotton Branch to do its lifesaving work. Please join us in helping change the world for farm animals, one kind deed at a time. Donate or volunteer today!
Here's a smoothie recipe to get you up and going this morning! It's kind, cruelty-free, tasty, and healthy! What can be better than that?
*Recipe yields around 2, 10 oz. smoothies
½ cup organic spinach
3 Tablespoons organic peanut butter
2 whole, organic bananas
1 cup organic strawberries
¼- ½ cup of almond milk
- Place spinach, bananas, peanut butter, and strawberries in blender.
- Pour almond milk into blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Pour and enjoy!
**Recipe from The Elephant Mum
*Photo credit: Josh Costner of Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary
1. Chickens are actually decedents of dinosaurs! They are the closest living relative to the Tyrannosaurus Rex!
2. Research has shown mother hens feel empathy for their baby chicks, especially when chicks are stressed.
3. Chickens have a super good memory! They can recognize over 100 different individuals, (including humans)!
4. Chickens have different alarm calls for different predators. This way, they can alert others in their flock who is coming.
5. Chickens see in full color!
6. Science has shown that chickens experience rapid eye movement or REM when they sleep. This means chickens dream like we do!
7. Chickens have pain receptors that make them feel pain and distress just like humans.
8. Chickens actually talk to their babies when they are still in the womb!
9. Chickens love to play, enjoy sunbathing, and like to take dust baths.
10. Chickens are extremely intelligent. Science has shown they not only care deeply about their young, but they can also solve complex problems, understand cause & effect and object permanence, and even worry.
Want to spend some time with these awesome, sentient beings? Give some love to the chickens at Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary!
**These facts were learned from information on onekind.org, peta.org, coolkidfacts.com, and care2.org. Also, some of this information was expressed by people that share their lives with these feathered friends.
A few days ago, I packed my son into the car along with my reusable bags and headed to the grocery store. I try to go during times when the store won’t be packed, seeing as though I like when the crowd clears up and I can actually find what I ran to the store for in the first place. Upon arrival, I walked into the local Trader Joes, searching for a cruelty-free, organic coconut body butter that was in my price range, (anything under $5 and that is bigger than 2 oz. fits my fancy just perfectly). I was lucky enough that I found it, (and a few other things as well). Now, I do have to say, there was still a crowd and a bunch of traffic despite visiting the store in the middle of the day.
After a successful grocery haul of bulk items and body butter, I was waiting in the line of traffic to leave the parking lot when I noticed a man, dressed in very dirty clothing with a huge back pack and a sleeping bag. He was leaning against a tree that was at the end of the parking lot for shade and resting his eyes. I normally don’t disturb people when I’m out, but lately, I’ve been going with my gut feeling on things and I had a feeling to drive over to him. I pulled over and looked around my car for anything that he might need.
Now I know that I shouldn’t assume that he was homeless or looking for help of any kind, but sometimes, it is just nice to help others and give without any assumption or judgement and just with kindness in my heart. During my search I found three dollars in cash and a little goodie bag that I had received from the dentist office two weeks before still in my car. The goodie bag included a new toothbrush, a travel size toothpaste, and some floss, (which I also had at home already). I drove over to the man, rolled down my car window and asked the man politely if he could be of use of any of the items that I had to give him. I told him that it was a gesture of kindness and I didn’t want to offend if he didn’t need any of it. I mean, who am I to assume what his situation really is, his background, or how the situation appeared. Tears came to his eyes and he exclaimed that he was so incredibly grateful for the dental hygiene items. He actually asked me if he, in return, could help me in anyway, (lawn work to be exact). I told him that was very kind, but I actually was not in need of it currently. He waved as I drove away and went back to leaning against the tree.
Many would call me crazy and that many people who stand on street corners with signs, such as “will work for food” or “anything will help”, are just con-artists that will do just about anything for “handouts”. Some would say that they could be waiting to hurt me or even attack in order to steal from me. I don’t believe that all of these individuals are just looking to take advantage of others. In my opinion, we as a society need to be kinder to each other; not just to other humans, but to the animals and planet.
Giving matters in any shape or form, no matter how big or how small. Can you only donate $1 a month to your chosen non-profit organization? DO IT, because any amount matters. Don’t have the money to donate, but would love to donate your time to helping the world become a better place? DO IT, because even if you can only volunteer an hour every month to loving and socializing with animals, it matters.
Help change the world for animals and donate to Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary. Cotton Branch Farm is a sanctuary for abused, neglected, and abandoned farm animals. Cotton Branch’s mission is to rescue such animals, provide them with safe housing and medical care and then adopt them out to suitable homes if possible, while also educating the public on ways to keep their animals in a safe, comfortable and healthy state. Also, it is one of the few sanctuaries who work to rehome and transport animals that it cannot take into its care. Cotton Branch’s board of directors is a family of volunteers, who work day in and day out to make it all possible for farm animals.
Want to become a part of a stellar team that changes the lives of farm animals on a daily basis? Become a resident’s sponsor! Want to donate specifically to the medical care of the farm animals Cotton Branch rescues? Donate to the Cotton Branch Care and Wellness Fund for Farm Animals! Become a monthly partner and donate on a monthly basis, (even if it is just a dollar). It makes all the difference in the world to the animals!
There are even ways to make contributions to Cotton Branch when you shop online! Check out Cotton Branch’s Etsy Store, do your normal online shopping at Amazon Smile, (where Amazon donates a portion of your purchase to Cotton Branch), or sign up with GoodShop & GoodSearch and get the best coupons for your online purchases, (and by using it, it gives back to Cotton Branch too!). There are so many ways to give!
If giving monetarily isn’t an option for you right now, donate your time! Cotton Branch is always looking for people with a variety of talents, (even if it is just donating love to the animals at the sanctuary), to help out! Join Cotton Branch’s Volunteer, Transport, and Action networks today!
Any way you can give matters. Live kindly and compassionately. Help your friends, family, neighbors, even strangers. Help all sentient beings, (which includes animals of course), and help the planet. It makes a world of difference, literately.
- Around 8-10 small to medium, organic red potatoes
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
- 1 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Wash, cut, and place potatoes in skillet or wok, (they can be sliced, diced, or cut however you prefer)
- Pour in olive oil
- Throw in rosemary and garlic
- Add salt and pepper
- Cook on medium to high heat, stirring and flipping, (to balance heat and cover all potatoes in oil and spices), until potatoes start to turn light brown and are soft all the way through, (depending on gas or electric stove and amount of heat, this can take up to 25 minutes).
- Serve and enjoy!