Sunday, September 30, 2018

Happily Ever Esther, Two Men, A Wonder Pig, and their Life-Changing Mission to Give Animals a Home is a darling story that made me both cry and laugh. The authors, Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, move from a small house in the city to a dilapidated farm in the country to give Esther more space and also start a sanctuary for other farmed animals. I moved from my small house in the city to acreage in the county to start a cat sanctuary and experienced many of the same "challenges" my first year in. Snowed in with a stuck car on a hill and no AWD? Check! Freezing temps and a broken furnace? Check! No pizza delivery within miles? Check! "People often think about giving it all up and just moving to a farm. It's an old cliche. Everything will be wonderful, they think. And in theory, sure - it sounds great... The realities of actually closing up shop on the life you've always known and moving to a farm - when, by the way, you have actually never been a farmer - are frantic, crazy, and potentially insane," the authors point out. So true.

Since I am not a big social media user, I wasn't aware of Esther's fame and how wildly popular she is. This is an interesting phenomena given that many people in the U.S. still eat pigs. (Over 100 million pigs are killed for food in this country each year; see Humane Society of the United States.) Only nine states have legislation regarding sow crates, which completely inhibit movement of mother pigs while they have nursing piglets. None of these nine states are the high pork production states and not all of the states have phased in the industry changes yet. In contrast, the European Union phased out sow crates, routine tail docking, tethering and sought to improve floor surfaces over a period of years by 2013. Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary, like most sanctuaries for animals traditionally farmed for food, allows Esther to act as a diplomat for her species to help people see these animals as individuals. While some folks say that developing a relationship with their dog or cat forced them to evaluate their relationships with other animals (those they eat, hunt, or support the exploitation of at a zoo or circus for example), others feel a shift after meeting a famed animal.

The mission of Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary is simple: To inspire kindness and compassion for farmed animals everywhere. This is such a lovely goal to work towards while also literally saving animal lives. Even if you can't pack up and move to devote your life to the daily care taking of animals, hopefully you can make choices that make a difference and inspire others around you to care as well.
Happy pigs at Pigs Peace Sanctuary in Arlington, WA

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