Kitty love

Apparently, I have potential to become a crazy cat lady someday…

Or maybe it’s already started.

That’s my bed.

That’s my clothes drawer.

That’s my desk at work.

That’s my chest.

I’ve always considered myself solely a dog person, but these kitties have been growing on me. I used to think cats were all snobby, but these are so sweet.

I still don’t think they’d get along too well with my Lilly girl, though. ūüėČ

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My week on shelter

My week of shelter is done and gone! Whew! Definitely have a new respect for the people who do this type of work all the time; it’s really no joke. Everyone on the farm here works extremely hard. There are set work times (for interns, at least), but it seems like everyone is always there, even into the later hours, helping out with something.

My work week schedule consisted of 1 day of projects, 3 days of cleaning, and 1 day of checks.

Projects is basically a long list of chores and tasks that must be completed each day, such as collecting eggs*, cleaning and doing laundry, sunscreening the pigs (fun!), and feeding all the animals their specific diets. I did this on my first day, and it was my longest day. I enjoyed it, though!

*Note: you might wonder what we do with the collected eggs — since vegans don’t eat them, right?! ūüôā¬†They are actually boiled, mashed up, and fed back to the birds. Egg-laying hens commonly have osteoporosis from using all the calcium in their bodies to lay eggs,¬†so adding the mashed egg to their diet prevents broken bones, fractures, and paralysis.

Cleaning days were Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, and are pretty self-explanatory: cleaning barns! I was given a list of barns to strip and re-hay. I raked up all the existing hay in the pens and shoveled it into trash bins, scraped up all the poop on the floors underneath and around bails of hay, swept all of that mess up, and then laid down a new layer of hay from fresh bails. I thought I was in pretty good shape, but I was actually sore after that!

Checks was on Thursday, and the day we assist with vet checkups for the animals. I didn’t particpate in much of this, though, because I was asked to transport some animals into town to see the vet. I’ve done this before, but¬†this day was a fiasco, as I ended up lost several times and the truck I was driving was too unfamilar to me (there will be more detail to this story if you hear it from me in person, haha).

I’m really glad I decided to do a week of shelter work; I definitely wouldn’t have gotten the same experience from this internship, otherwise. It’s actually a little weird being back in the office this week, away from the animals and sunshine (although it¬†will be kind of nice¬†not being sweaty and gross all the time :P).¬†It was definitely¬†therapeutic working with all of them, like¬†being around my Lilly girl. I would come into work cranky sometimes, but a few minutes¬†watching the the cows run and play, having¬†the pigs look at me, snort, and roll over for a belly rub,¬†or the turkeys curiously come up to me to be petted, I’d find myself smiling and remembering how awesome it is to be here.

I was quite surprised how¬†much all of the animals reminded me of my dog —¬†even the chickens and turkeys! I remember a few years ago talking to someone about how eating chicken didn’t matter, because they were such dumb animals anyway.¬†There’s honestly no way I can believe that now.

Now that I’ve been here over a month, I find myself torn between counting down the days until I’m home and trying to relish the fact that I probably won’t ever be surrounded by this many like-minded people in this same way again. Nothing can beat amazing relationships with friends and family at home, though. I’m excited to have a day after work when I can come home to my own apartment and relax with John and Lilly. John and I have been dating for 3 years today (!!! :)), and I’m sad I can’t be there.

I also hope there’s an opportunity to get together with my family and cook a vegan feast for everyone! ūüėÄ I think that would be so much fun to share my experiences, especially in the form of food!! Yum.

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 4th, everyone! I just got back from going into town with some of the interns. We got some beers and talked about vegan issues, politics, and people who tour the farm. That was the extent of our Independence Day celebrations, but I loved it.

Oh, but there was food! Becky, the awesome intern coordinator, made us an amazing spread for the Ed. lunch today:

Vegan sausage dog with all the toppings, avocado-massaged kale salad, coleslaw, and fruit with creamy dip.

Yum, yum, yum! I must get the recipes for all of this.

So, the new interns moved in last week, and everything has been really good so far. I love them all — so nice, and so easy to get along with and live with. Also, since this week I was new on shelter work at the same time as them, it’s been nice to talk about our experiences with the work.

I’m so glad I decided to try a week of shelter work. It definitely allows me more time around the animals and helps me see exactly what kind of work goes into caring for them and the farm. I’ve never really done farm work before, so this is a great experience for me! And, so far, I’m actually liking it! Yesterday and today, I was asked to make a trip to the Ithaca animal hospital too, which I really enjoyed doing. Really made me wish I had my car here, though; it’s so tough driving through town and seeing all of the cool places to explore.

Hopefully I’ll be able to go to more places with someone before I leave. If not… I’ll just have to come back and visit ASAP. ūüėČ

Change of pace next week

After this week, June will be done and gone. Time has really flown by the majority of the time I’ve been here; maybe because I’m enjoying this internship¬†so much. I’m learning so much, meeting so many amazing people, and getting to do work that I love while also contributing to an organization I care a lot about.

Homemade cupcakes were brought into the office today by Jessica in Development. They were — seriously — the best cupcakes I’ve ever had!

Yeah, that’s chocolate chip cookie dough in the middle, and half of a baked cookie in the butter cream frosting on the top.

It’s really cool to be in an environment where someone brings food and I’m not immediately ready to say “no thanks, I don’t eat ____” because everything here is free of animal products! Despite the fact that it might mean I’ll be about 20 pounds heavier by the time I leave… it’s a nice to feel like one of the majority. Even eating out is awesome because 1) there are many vegan options at the restaurants in this area and 2) everyone I’m going out to eat with is also looking for vegan food!

Bella, Sarah, and me at Strong Hearts in Syracuse

I feel like I belong — and not just because everyone is vegan here (although that has a lot to do with it), but we all seem to have a lot of similar viewpoints. I’m sure that stems from the initial sense of compassion for animals; it definitely makes you see the world in a broader light.

This weekend will be slightly weird, though, as three of the interns in our house are leaving to go back home. I’m going to be really sad seeing Neely, Bella, and Graham leave, even though I’m planning to keep in touch with all of them! Three new interns will be moving in Saturday.

Also, next week I’ll be doing shelter work for the week! Office interns have the chance to try shelter work, if we want, and I’ve decided to see what it’s like. The reason I’m here, after all, is initial to benefit the animals here — so I want to give some of my time to interact with and care for them. Everyday, I hear from the shelter interns in my house about the different personalities of the animals and which one are their favorites; I want to know what that’s like! So next week I’ll be doing all manual labor, and then I’ll have three more weeks to get back to work in the communications office again (which I am LOVING, by the way).

Week #3 Begins

Today at work seemed to drag on, and everyone around me seemed to have a bit of the Monday blues, as well.¬† I think, for me, it was mostly because I was tired from the weekend — which was so fun!

First of all, last Thursday night I was invited to an office get-together at Harvest Cafe in Montour Falls. There were several vegan options on the menu, including burgers, pizzas, and wraps. I decided on the basic Veggie Burger with the black bean/quinoa patty, topped with tomato, lettuce, onion, and vegan mayonnaise.  It was so yummy! I was just so excited to be able to order a veggie burger so casually, and so easily.

One of my coworkers, Michelle, order the Vegan Supreme pizza. I had to get a picture of it because of how yummy it looked. I didn’t try any, but it looked really good.

Then, after work on Friday I went to Ithaca with Will, Graham, and Bella. We ate at Pizza Aroma again because some of us hadn’t been there yet, and I couldn’t help but order the Vegan Calzone again. Afterwards, we explored the Ithaca Commons a little and visited a used bookstore (that I can’t remember the name of) where I found some good books for cheap prices.

And I didn’t even need to buy the hard copies — I have a Nook and could have easily bought the same books electronically — but there was just something about looking through used books and wondering where they’ve come from that intrigued me. Especially when I find remnants of their past location, like in this Into the Wild book:

After the bookstore, we made a stop at Wegman’s grocery store (because it’s awesome and never gets old) and then hit up Purity Ice Cream. We had heard they have vegan options, so we were excited. And they must be very popular, because it was getting pretty late and the place was still packed with customers!

Sure enough, they had vegan soy ice cream and several options. I went with a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough soy ice cream in a wafer cone. It was heavenly and amazing and… I just love ice cream.

Tomorrow is grocery shopping day, and also the day we go into Ithaca (as opposed to Watkins Glen, our normal grocery stop), and I believe we’ll be stopping at this place again. I’m going to get so fat here.

Anyway, on Saturday I went back into Ithaca with Neely, and we checked out the Farmer’s Market there. It was really cool, and there were lots of neat shops and eating places.

The place we had an eye out for, though, was Macro Mama’s — an all vegan stand that a Farm Sanctuary staff member told us about. I’m so glad she did, too!

We each ordered the Sampler Platter, which consisted of a variety of veggie dishes, a grain dish, and a scoop of thai peanut noodles, and a dessert.

It was all SO good. But we both agreed we could have eaten a whole dish of the thai noodles alone. They were great. And now for the best part…

Carrot cake!!!!

I love carrot cake, and this was a huge piece of it. It was moist and flavorful. There were candied almonds on top of it. And cream cheese frosting… of course. I definitely had leftovers, but it didn’t take me long to finish them off. Did I already mention something about getting fat here?

But food aside, I am really enjoying the company of everyone here. Later Saturday night, we joined the other interns at their house, Hilda House, for a game night of Uno and Catchphrase. It was really fun, and we have a Documentary Night and Movie Night scheduled for later this week. I feel like I’m getting to know everyone well, and that’s not always common for me. It think it’s because we all have a common ground — the passion for veganism, equality, and compassion — despite where each of us comes from. It makes me feel comfortable and almost at home here. Not to mention, the scenery is gorgeous and the area seems amazing with its refreshingly progressive style.

I mean, of course I’m often homesick, and am still fully aware of how many weeks left until I see my family and friends at home again, but I realize this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m planning to fully enjoy it.

Yummy Food

Today and yesterday were filled with yummy, free, plant-based food.  Yesterday we all attended a staff luncheon put on by the founders of Boston Baked Bonz.  It was amazing.

Corn and black bean enchiladas, Israeli couscous salad, sweet potatoes, pickles and pickled onions, and kale with peanut butter dressing.

And best of all, dessert included several kinds of vegan cupcakes from¬†Sticky Fingers Bakery. ¬†O.M.G. ¬†So good. If I was served these all of the time, I’d be a thousand pounds. Flavors included Class Vanilla, Strawberry¬†Cr√®me, Peanut Butter Fudge, and Coconut Delight. ¬†I decided to go with the Strawberry…

… and then another intern gave me half of her Vanilla. ¬†Yum! ¬†And all of this was vegan, of course.

Lucky for us interns, we got to eat some of the leftovers again today. ¬†Every Wednesday, we have an Educational Lunch with all of the interns and a guest speaker. ¬†Today it was Registered Dietitian George Eisman. ¬†You can read more about him on this page. ¬†As soon as he started talking, I perked up — I love talks about plant-based nutrition. ¬†I also loved that I already knew most of what he was talking about, especially referencing T. Colin Campbell’s discovery of the¬†casein,¬†the protein in milk, to be a potent, cancer-causing agent in our bodies. ¬†It was a great talk, and once again made me consider continuing my education in the nutrition field. ¬†We’ll see.

Side note: If you haven’t read The China Study by Dr. Campbell, go buy it NOW. ¬†It will change your life.

Anyway… things have seemed pretty slow, lately. ¬†It’s weird that I’ve only been here a week. ¬†I’m beginning to miss home lately, which I expected. ¬†I think what contributes most to the homesickness is wanting to be able to come home after a long day at work and see Lilly and John, and tell them about my day, etc. but I’m trying my best to take it a day at a time and enjoy all the time I’m here. ¬†This is such a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

And I do really enjoy the work I’ve been doing. ¬†Love the people I’ve been working with. ¬†It’s taking some adjustment to actually working a full 9-5 work week, but I’m really thankful for this experience. ¬†I’m learning to work “real world” hours and also getting to contribute to an organization I really care about. ¬†And my work is fun! ¬†I was so nervous until ¬†I realized the projects I’ll be working on are exactly the types of projects I do every semester in my technical communication classes! ¬†Exciting! ¬†I love editing.

But anyway, I’m off to bed soon because I have to come in early tomorrow. ¬†Just two more days and the weekend’s here again!

First Day of Work: a Good Start

I wasn’t really sure what to expect on my first day, but it turned out to be a good one. ¬†From the moment I got there, everyone made me feel comfortable and welcome. ¬†My supervisor Michelle is awesome; she’s the person responsible for planning Gene Baur’s appearances and such, as well as his Facebook and Twitter accounts (um… AWESOME!) and she’s so fun to be around.

Also.. more doggie love!

That’s Olive, and she’s precious. ¬†There are also many cats in the building, including those on the first floor whom are all named after Harry Potter characters. ūüôā

As far as actual work today, I mostly helped with inventory and stocking of the gift shop in the Visitors Center.  I know it sounds boring, but I actually tend to kind of enjoy methodical work; plus, I knew there would be more communications-centered work later.

Tomorrow I’m going to speak on the phone with a telecommuting Farm Sanctuary staff member, who will give me projects to start completing for my internship. ¬†Today was more about getting used to everything, getting settled, etc. ¬†I got to flip through some of the quarterly FS¬†catalogs, and there’s a possibility I could be doing some writing for those. ¬†I’ll find out for sure soon enough!

Speaking of the gift shop earlier, yesterday another intern and I stopped by the shop because we’d heard it had some really cool stuff. ¬†And it does! ¬†I found several things I¬†felt I¬†had to have ūüėČ ¬†And I’ll definitely be shopping there a second time before the end of my internship. ¬†Here’s what I left with this time:

And this jacket with the FS logo on it. ¬†It’s so soft. (Sorry for the silly face!)

I’m sure I’ve said this already, but I really love the other interns here. ¬†As soon as I walked in from work, everybody said hello and asked how my first day has been. ¬†This evening someone made vegan chocolate chip cookies while we all sat in the living room watching The Sound of Music.

We’re all so supportive of each other, and I just feel like since we all have this passion for veganism and animal rights, we’re able to relate to one another really well. ¬†It’s such a refreshing feeling.

I actually forget I’m not in Texas, everyone here is so nice. ¬†I guess I had this weird bias that everyone in New York would be more rude and self-centered, but that’s so not the case. ¬†The only time I remember I’m in a completely different state is when I walk outside into the lush, green, cool and rainy weather. ¬†But that I’m not complaining about ONE BIT. ūüôā