In honor of my humane educator roots in animal rights activism, my first post on Ahimsa Mama is about our recent family trip to Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary in Poughquag (Duchess County), New York.
Dr. William Crain, who founded and continues to operate the sanctuary with his wife, NYC physician Dr. Ellen Crain, was one of the keynote speakers at the Cultivating Children’s Creativity conference I helped to organize at Wellspring Community School last month. As part of his presentation, he showed video of some young children interacting with the sanctuary residents, and I knew right away that I had to see this place. There are not tons of farmed animal sanctuaries around, and among those there are just a few that welcome young children (such as my nearly-five and nearly-three-year old) for a visit. Given that the Drs. Crain are a child development specialist (Bill) and a pediatrician (Ellen), and exceptionally warm people to boot, they not only welcomed our wee ones with open arms but offered to make us lunch (which, for the record, we declined, opting instead to bring our own brown-bagged vegan lunches).
Bill and Ellen enthusiastically led us through their rain-soaked, muddy farm and introduced us to their furred and feathered friends, offering each resident’s story as we met them. The kids were encouraged to touch and feed the animals (except the turkeys who are apparently going through a crabby phase right now), and it was great to see how they reacted to the trust that the Crains placed in their ability to interact with the animals kindly and gently. Even my whirling dervish of a son was relatively calm though he did find the temptation to chase a chicken or two too great to resist. The chickens, I’m glad to report, seemed to take it in stride – I suspect this is not the first time they have been subjected to a little boy of Harry’s ilk.
I encourage you to check out the Safe Haven website, and to schedule a visit if you are in the area. We can’t wait to go back – on a drier and sunnier day, we hope.