AltBreak

During fall-break I participated in an alternative break (AltBreak) trip to an animal sanctuary in Manchester, Michigan.  SASHA is a pretty cool place that takes care of over 300 animals, including two cows with special needs, an emu, rescued battery cage chickens and roosters from cock fights, goats, turkeys, and pot-bellied pigs.  Our group of ten volunteers spent five days shoveling manure, cleaning out stalls, and feeding and watering the animals, and when I wasn't working I was taking photos. *click photos to enlarge*

Beautiful fall morning as we walk to the farm from the volunteer house

Pot-belly pig all grown up (the cute tea-cup pigs you see on Pinterest don't stay tiny forever).

There was lots of poop scoopin'...or manure re-distribution, whichever is more glamorous

Beautiful chicken feet

Animals are, like us, endangered species on an endangered planet, and we are the ones who are endangering them, it, and ourselves. We owe them, at the very least, to refrain from harming them further. If no more, we could leave them be.
— Jeffery Masson, author of When Elephants Weep

The fellow on the left was rescued from a cock fighting ring, and was successfully re-integrated with the flock

Bonding time

Friends

This goat knows what's up

Goat and miniature horse barn

Group bonding time making caramel pecan chocolate turtles after dinner!

Beautiful morning light

One of three miniature ponies on the farm on the field glittering with frost

Turkey feeding time.  They're pretty voracious eaters, and super curious (aka will try to eat anything they can peck at).  

The emu was very affectionate...she had lost her mate and had become depressed but is now returning to her lively self

Emu feet

Perfect timing...

Fire eyes

Helen, one of the cow with special needs, got lots of love

This fellow was particularly dubious about my camera

The pigs really liked the organic fruit donated by Whole Foods.  With humans they were the gentlest creatures (with each other it was a different story).

Glamour shot.  She really knew how to work the camera

Alex had a lot of followers when she was holding the fruit bucket

Clamouring for scrambled eggs.  All volunteers on the farm eat a plant-based diet (including everyone in our group for the time we were there), and so the chickens get the nutrients in the eggs they lay fed back to them.

Maurice, the newest chicken to the farm, was in quarantine until she could be integrated with the rest of the roost (fun fact: I helped name her)

Human feeding time: roasted sweet potatoes with herbs, thanks to Alex.  Nom nom.

Sorbet time...we really liked desserts

 (Vegan) Banana split cake.  Kinda crazy looking, very yummy tasting.

(Vegan) Banana split cake.  Kinda crazy looking, very yummy tasting.

 Fearless, the rescued Doberman, was quite the sweetheart

Fearless, the rescued Doberman, was quite the sweetheart

 Chicken staredown

Chicken staredown

 This photo could not get any more Midwest: tractor, red barn, farm dog, work gloves, and muck boots

This photo could not get any more Midwest: tractor, red barn, farm dog, work gloves, and muck boots

Candid dog kiss.  Fearless had to get a cyst removed (hence the stitches), so he got extra love

Do you have food? // SASHA is a bit unusual in that they have 30 rescued cattle, which involves a lot of work (also, lots of hay is involved).  A $5 donation can buy a 50lb (22kg) bag of food, or almost two bales of hay.  Donations (link here) go directly to SASHA. 

Poop-scoopin' the pasture

Filling the manure spreader, to be taken and spread out over a field

The whole SASHA AltBreak crew!

We stopped in Chicago to switch trains, and had time to eat pizza (vegan) at the Blaze.  Om nom nom pesto.

Chicago street scene during our layover.  If I liked big cities I would like Chicago...and Seattle.  See the photos from Seattle here.

A video documenting our trip, including (most notably) footage of the emu, chickens eating scrambled eggs, and a poop time lapse that I'm very proud of.  Make sure to click 'HD' to see it in all it's glory.

Overall it was a full week spent working, making new friends, and having really good discussions.  Thanks to SASHA for having us and for Grinnell College AltBreak for sponsoring the trip!