By Jenny Canham, Guest Contributor, Sanctuary Spotlight
Situated in Ontario, Canada, Piebird Farm Sanctuary opened its doors in 2005 to provide a safe and loving residence for its animal friends. Yan and Sherry began by making a very special promise:
To the beings with whom we share our farm, we offer you freedom to be your fully realized selves, to wander the pasture, to snuggle in our arms if you want to, to doze in the sun, to live with your family of other adopted residents and when you pass away after a long happy life… we offer you the sought-after orchard to forever roam your days.
After talking with Yan, it became clear that the animals living at Piebird are much more than just sanctuary residents – they are family.
Yan explains that the animals have come from all kinds of suffering, and every new addition to the sanctuary is a whole new adventure, bringing their own spark to add to the sanctuary’s community.
“Most of the animal-friends here in sanctuary come from either factory farms or hobby-farm neglect situations. Some come here from the less obvious exploitation such as the film industry or simply guardian surrender. Wherever they come from, when they come to sanctuary each individual brings a new layer of happiness here in ways we can’t imagine prior to their arrival.”
Over the years, Piebird has grown along with its animal pals, and now brings the message of love and happiness in many different ways. Firstly, there is the Vegan Farmstay, which comprises a Guesthouse, Cottage Rental and Bed & Breakfast – the perfect vegan retreat! What could be better than waking up to some joyful farm animals enjoying their well-deserved freedom?
Yan and Sherry believe that food is of the utmost importance, and so guests of the Vegan Farmstay can enjoy a range of delicacies which are ‘homegrown, whole-food focused and 100% vegan.’ Of course, the animals lend a helping hand in food preparation to make sure that everything is up to the highest standard.
“The turkey-friends love to help us prepare the soil in the spring, the chicken-friends get super excited during planting season, and the goat-friends are always keen to help during harvest. We also raise money for the sanctuary by growing and selling heirloom seeds through a small seed company we have.”
I’m aware of how many times I’ve already used the word ‘love’, but it just seems impossible to avoid when talking about Piebird! And what better way to show this than having weddings at the sanctuary, too? Yan explains that anything love-based fits in perfectly with what the sanctuary is all about.
“Hosting weddings here is a great way to help people establish deep positive relationships with animals. For the happy couple it’s really a great opportunity for them to fully share their values with their guests. For us, from an outreach-perspective, hosting weddings is a really meaningful way to reach people who may not otherwise ever visit a farm sanctuary.”
In addition to helping out with the catering, Piebird animal friends may sometimes even play a part in the weddings. Yan recalls one time when, just as the happy couple were saying their vows, Sunshine the goat ate the entire bouquet! He explains that weddings are also important for the sanctuary to provide a stark contrast to the lives the animals would have had before.
“Weddings are all about beauty. In the animal agriculture industry, farmed animals are hidden away out of sight and forced to live in ugly buildings where ugly things are done to them. Here in Sanctuary, part of celebrating the residents as individuals is celebrating all aspects of their life: their personal growth, their daily accomplishments, their interest & the space they call home. We make sure their homes are really beautiful, to reflect the beauty of the sanctuary-residents themselves.”
And to cater to the musical side of people (and animals!), Piebird also hosts concerts where, as you can probably guess, the animals love to get involved with the music, too!
“Before the audience arrives, we often have the bands play a couple quiet songs for the animal-friends in sanctuary. Many of them really dig the singing especially, they feel the magic of human voices in harmony. But really, hosting music is just a good reason to gather. Change comes quicker when there is a place for community to gather.”
At the heart of everything the sanctuary does, Piebird is dedicated to spreading the vegan word as widely as possible. About half of Piebird’s guests are vegan, and Yan and Sherry aim to provide a place for them to recharge and to gain comfort from seeing animals living so happily and at peace. Non-vegans are able to meet the animals and see how they have a real zest for life now that they are finally able to enjoy their freedom.
Charles Dickens once wrote, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” Maybe this is the secret behind the contagious happiness that Piebird spreads! Having recently incorporated a place for sanctuary-helpers to live on-site so people can volunteer for longer periods of time, Piebird continues to expand, and is always on the lookout for another helping hand. Yan and Sherry will continue to provide love and care for the animals that need it most, staying true to their promise to the animals living with them, and also making a promise to the animals that are still suffering:
We will continue to work for your freedom, to affect change in people’s hearts & habits, and hope more recognize the connection between slavery and food. We promise to offer homes to as many of you as we can and we are sorry every day for the little space we do have to offer on our farm to save you. As humans, we ask for forgiveness for your suffering.
Plan a Visit to Piebird Farm Sanctuary!
Where: 113 Chapman’s Landing Rd., Nipissing Villiage, Ontario, Canada
Admission: For accommodation at the Vegan Farmstay, please visit: www.piebird.ca.