Since we were early, there was plenty of parking, but from what we saw later, that didn’t last long. According to Deb at Invisible Voices, who has the inside track on these things, as many as 800 people showed up! I totally agree with her that Poplar Spring should start marketing the day as the World’s Largest Vegan Potluck. It was wonderful to see so many people excited about the animals—and so many kids, too!
Her favorite game was dropping armfuls of straw on her head and running around.
But first, we had to pass this understated marvel of good taste to get there:
This is the Casa de Amor, and by all that’s holy, if it isn’t the trashiest mega-mansion in the entire county. The fountain is out of frame, but the Internet tells me it’s illuminated by rainbow lights at night. If you’ve ever been to Vegas and seen the fountain display at the Bellagio, that’s what I’m envisioning. There are also big-ass eagles atop the fence. It is truly a triumph of drug money or other unsavory enterprise.
Once we made it to the sanctuary, we checked in on our friends the goats:
We then wandered down to the chicken yard to find Deb, but were distracted by this handsome fellow:
Would you believe he’s a pheasant? I always thought they’d be drab birds, meant to blend in with the forest. Not so, evidently, because he is as colorful as any tropical bird. Perhaps other varieties of pheasant are more sedately plumaged, but he is quite striking. I believe he’s a newcomer to the sanctuary, and I don’t doubt he’ll attract much attention.
Poplar Spring also recently welcomed two young turkeys, Tilly and Cosette (no promises as to who’s who, though Deb says that Cosette may be soon renamed something more appropriately masculine if suspicions prove correct):
Edward or Arthur (I can’t tell them apart) spent a bit of time hollering in his distinctive peacock way, though I didn’t see either peacock strutting around with tail unfurled. It was nice of them to let the turkeys have center stage.
True to form, the rabbits kept to themselves in a cozy pile:
Allison and Twinkle don’t need much personal space.
Here’s lunchtime for the turkeys, who are always very excited to be the center of attention:
Cosette and Tilly went back for seconds.
Once the turkeys had their buffet, it was time for ours. Red’s and my strategy is to split up and hit different tables, so we can try as much food as possible. I think we did exceptionally well:
I grabbed those strawberries for Red, because I am the Best Wife Ever.
I did sneak off to the dessert table first and snag two pumpkin whoopie pies because I was sure they wouldn’t last. I was right; when I went back after snarfing my lunch, the desserts were pretty well decimated.
Here’s an example of how well matched Red and I are: We each spied a crate of clementines, and we each grabbed one for ourselves and one to share with the other. When we met up with our loot, we had four clementines! I would have felt greedy keeping all of them, so we gave two to our tablemates, one of whom worked for FARM. You were all lovely, tablemates. (Protip: Get to Poplar Spring early and drop your stuff at a table so you’re not sitting on the grass. This is the first year we figured out that trick.)
This year, the party had a surprise guest speaker: Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet (which I own, but haven’t read, because you know how it is). It can be tough to rig up a good sound system outdoors, and I’m not sure everyone heard him, but he was well received and I hope he had a good time.
After lunch, we moseyed over to the pig yard:
Piglets Paige and Patty.
If you look closely, you can see Red back there!
I couldn’t resist the ‘tock shot.
We needed to head home to Lucy, so we stopped by the gift shop for a new calendar (it’s almost January and I need to continue being That Person at work). Deb’s photos are beautiful and really capture the personality of each animal.
For all the beauty and joy of the day, I was saddened that Opal wasn’t there. Opal, grande dame of turkeys, passed on in April after kicking ass and taking names for seven spirited years. That’s a damn good run for a turkey who, like she was, was bred to be killed. She ran away from a slaughterhouse when she was just a youngster and came to Poplar Spring in 2004, after her kindhearted adopters realized that a sanctuary was the best place for her. Although her beak and toes were cut short and I’m sure this caused her pain (as well as made it difficult for her to walk and eat), she was unfailingly gentle and loved to be stroked. She was truly an inspiration and will be missed by so many, human and nonhuman alike.
Opal and I at last year’s potluck.
Another year, another early Thanksgiving. I’m so grateful for places like Poplar Spring, where animals can not only live free from fear and pain and express their true natures, but where we humans can remember that we always have the opportunity to be better versions of ourselves.