Farm Sanctuary in Orland
By Claudia Mosby
Animal RescueAugust 2015
By Claudia Mosby
Autumn the goat is a very different goat today than the one that arrived in 2013 at Farm Sanctuary in Orland. He has become a bona fide member of the herd, happily one goat among many, a lover of mealtimes and his caregivers.
“He was found bound and gagged in a ditch,” says Chad Richmond, Farm Sanctuary’s national facilities manager. “He was able to get the tape off his mouth and bleat. A PG&E worker found him and he was taken to an animal control shelter in the Bay Area that contacted us.”
Richmond describes Autumn as so afraid of people that he hid in a corner barn stall for several weeks. “He was very uncomfortable with the caregivers or anyone else coming around him,” says Richmond. "After a few weeks, he started to come out of his shell, so we put him with another goat that was also afraid of people and they bonded.”
Co-founded in 1986 by Gene Bauer, Farm Sanctuary offers safe haven to abused and neglected factory farm animals. “We started with donated space in a Wilmington, Del. row house and funded ourselves by selling veggie hotdogs out of our Volkswagen bus at Grateful Dead concerts,” says Bauer, the organization’s president.
In 2015, Farm Sanctuary has a $10 million budget funded by more than 200,000 global supporters, compassion farms in New York and California, and counts actor James Franco and comedian Jon Stewart and his family among its supporters.
Bauer’s vision of “a place where we rescue and care for farm animals and model a different kind of relationship with them” has been realized. The sanctuaries serve not only as a home to animals from a variety of places and circumstances, but also as educational centers. The New York and Los Angeles sites run multiple guided educational tours daily, while Orland offers self-directed tours.
The Orland sanctuary occupies 300 acres of rolling hills overlooking Black Butte Lake and homes 300 rescued animals. Cattle use most of the range, which includes a spring-fed pond, and they sometimes “hang out” for a week before returning to the barn, says Richmond.
Mario the steer, a 10-year Orland resident, was on his way to the rendering plant when the driver had a change of heart. Ferdinand the sheep, dubbed the “pear thief ” because he ate from a neighbor’s fruit tree, was rescued from impending death and sentenced to (a happy) life at the sanctuary.
“We have feral sheep that came off the Santa Cruz Island,” says Bauer,
“and we have calves born on dairy farms that were not useful to the farmer.”
In spite of the harshness he has witnessed, Bauer believes everyone possesses
kindness, as evidenced by Mario’s story.
Caregiving teams handle all of the animal health care and almost all of
the feeding. “They get 24-7 care and many of them receive a.m. and p.m.
medications,” says Richmond. “Each animal is
examined daily, which is what sets Farm Sanctuary
apart from other shelters.”
In Orland, three staff houses shelter the on-site
caregivers, and an intern house sees a revolving roster
of international unpaid volunteers eager for the
experience. “I’ve seen a wide range as far as their
educational pursuits,” says Richmond. “They come
mostly because they care about animals and want to
learn more about advocacy on behalf of farm animals.”
As bucolic as sanctuary life can be, animals are
much like people: they do not always get along.
Roosters represent the biggest challenge, and goats
on the outs sometimes head butt through the gate,
says Richmond, whose farm team separates animals as necessary and
handles all farm repairs, construction and clean up. “Pigs and cows more
easily learn their places and cooperate,” he adds with a chuckle.
For Richmond, a Farm Sanctuary supporter before becoming an
employee, this is his dream job. “I manage all of the facilities and I get to
rescue animals, too,” he says. “It is great to see them live out their lives
healthy and happy, the way they were meant to live. I’m proud of the work
www.farmsanctuary.org • (530) 865-4617 (please call before visiting)