<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Feisty is sick! 

Remember the kittens we rescued who were dumped in the woods across the road? All of them got that tick-borne disease, and all but one died of it. We kept him and named him Feisty - for good reason. But, Feisty hasn't been feeling very well the last few days.

Laura just got back from a quick run to the vet (a setback of $39.50 we didn't have in the bank and for which she had to write a postdated check for, even as she can't pay for her prescriptions due the 1st, either) and got Feisty a physical and a shot. The vet isn't really sure what is wrong with him without some tests, though she suspects (and rightfully so) that he needs to be vaccinated against a couple of common problems. The dilemma we find ourselves in is that the tests alone will cost around $60 (we don't know how much for the shots themselves), and of course, we don't have it.

So, dear and constant readers, I turn to you once again to help save the life of yet another individual named Feisty.



As you can see from this picture of Feisty with Laura's sister, he likes to sleep on or around the heads of people and is a quite cuddly little kitty when he isn't tearing through the house playing with his toys (some of them sent in by a reader - thanks Cathie - he loves them!). We have really gotten attached to him, as we do to all of the others we take in, like Spaz - who has also made himself at home at Laura's mom's, going inside whenever he wants and having a chair all his own on the porch with his own blanket on it.

Sophia and Jake are now getting time outside the pen and are running around in the yard, as For the Sake of Animals wanted them to do in advance of their pending adoption. They are loving that! :) Jake is very friendly and loves to play, while Sophia is still a bit shy and needs more socialization. We are hoping that more time outside the pen will help with that. The sooner we adopt them out, the sooner we can save more!

I wish we had the same to say about Bill. Poor Bill. He just sits in his doghouse most of the time. He even waits for dark to come out and eat. It will take a very long time to rehab Bill, if it can even be done. I know that if it can, Laura can do it. She even got him to ome to the side of the fence and be petted while she was wearing a lettered hat, for the first time, a couple of days ago. More progress! I have seen her work miracles with animals of all kinds. Animals will come right up to her when they will not approach anyone else. Or they will let her come to them. It really is just like a force, an energy field of loving-kindness radiates that out from this wonderful woman who has helped save so many lives throughout her lifetime. Animals seem to pick up on that and just know that she means them no harm and only wants to help and give love. We would never have saved as many as we have without her loving energy to help them trust us enough to help them. It's almost like they seem to know where to go for help. Animals have simply turned up everywhere she has ever lived, in the hope of finding the help that was there to be found. And they did always find it, whether or not she really had the capability or knowledge of exactly what to do. She just did some reading, found out, helped them, and then found them homes.

Feisty is just one of the most recent of those animals. If you have the means or know someone who does, please send whatever you can afford to help. If you would rather make arrangements through the vet herself - if that makes you more comfortable knowing your money will be spent just as we say it will, or you want a copy faxed to you of what we spent today, let me know. We can also send a copy by email. That can certainly be arranged, as it has been in the past, though we are very rarely questioned. The pictures speak for themselves as tp the good we have done with so little in a county that has no shelter or recourse.

Speaking of which, we are also hurting for animal food. I know that everyone has just given so much to so many different charities recently for realyl good causes. Katrina espeially caused a lot of charitable donations to go out. But 100% of this money will truly go to save a life. It won't pay a salary or pay for slick handouts, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, tote bags, etc. It will g directly to save an innocent life. Feisty deserves no less that the best chance we can give him. He didn't ask to be born.

And he certainly didn't ask to be dumped in the woods and watch all his brothers and sisters die before his eyes...

Friday, November 25, 2005

On Thanksgiving - From the Mailbag 

We ate our Tofurky again yesterday - much better than last year since we read the instructions. LOL! All of the animals here got a special feast and blessing with thanks for them being here and enriching our lives with their individual selves. Mostly, we don't like to celebrate Thanksgiving, but do it for the family. Laura's family is big on celebrations of holidays and go all out for all of them. As we all did yesterday. Therefore, Laura and I, along with a smart and caring young boy, went around and gave each and every animal a special treat while we talked about how special they were.

Today, we are happily particpating in the Buy Nothing Day! Many others refer to it as Black Friday and hold anti-fur demos everywhere. Check out http://www.furfreefriday.com/ for the nearest one to you.

Now, the articles (not all the comments and e-cards. though I thank each and every one of you who contacted us, but they were way too personal to put here) that were sent to me on what others were thinking about yesterday. First, the main one we were pondering:

"Re-Membering Thanksgiving" by Eastern Shore Sanctuary cofounder pattrice jones (and very good friend - a really outstanding and intelligent woman) was published last year and remains relevant today. This challenging essay looks at the links between factory farming, colonization, homophobia, and war in the context of a
meditation on the holiday of Thanksgiving.

http://www.pressaction.com/news/weblog/full_article/jones11222004/

She also gave several options and reasons for Buy Nothing Day:

Buy Nothing for the Animals November 25

Inaugurated twelve years ago, Buy Nothing Day asks U.S. consumers to protest amoral consumerism by staying out of the stores on the busiest shopping day of the year. Now maintained by the folks at AdBusters Magazine (who have recently run some very fine articles exposing factory farming and meat consumption), Buy Nothing Day is an
easy way for animal advocates to show solidarity with other movements without in any way compromising work on behalf of the animals.

Top 5 reasons for animal advocates to honor Buy Nothing Day:

5. Because selfish greed is at the heart of both consumerism and animal exploitation.
4. Because production of superfluous consumer goods depletes resources and harms habitats, thereby hurting animals.
3. Because you can give the money you save to an animal sanctuary.
2. Because if we want people to listen when we say "don't buy that," we have to be willing to listen when other people say "don't buy that."
1. Because sometimes nothing can mean everything.

5 Things to do instead of shopping on November 25:

1. Volunteer at your local animal shelter or sanctuary
2. Plan how you will reduce your consumption over the next year.
3. Download Buy Nothing Day materials and distribute them at your local mall.
4. Download pro-vegan materials and distribute them at your local supermarket.
5. Read a book, take a walk, play music, visit your neighbors or just sit and think.


The Buy Nothing Day website is:
http://adbusters.org/metas/eco/bnd/

Many animal liberation organizations offer handouts that can be
downloaded and distributed by anyone. A handout that is particularly
apt for Buy Nothing Day may be downloaded from:
http://www.globalhunger.net/goveg.pdf

Next, we have a selection of articles from someone else, along with what he was thankful for:

I am thankful for the emergence of leaders like Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, both of whom champion the rights of the poor and defy American neocolonialism: (I have to admit that we frequently support Chavez through purposely buying our gas to do so at Citgo and mever - I mean NEVER - do we spend one penny at Exxon-Mobil!)

http://www.rense.com/general68/sno.htm

I am thankful for the blow the University of Kansas has struck for intellectual honesty:

http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/2005/11/conservative-christian-majority-on.html

I am thankful for the courage of John Murtha and the growing momentum against the despicable Bush regime:

http://www.upi.com/SecurityTerrorism/view.php?StoryID=20051117-090928-6137r

I am thankful for the integrity and courage of Kevin and Monica Benderman (me, too - I wrote to them) as he serves 15 months in a military detention center for his refusal to redeploy to Iraq based on the obscenely immoral acts he was ordered to commit during his first tour:

http://uruknet.info/?p=m18059

I am mostly thankful to The Black Commentator for opening my eyes to the dark and disturbing truths about our cultural ancestors, whose "success and prosperity" we have been brain-washed into celebrating on this day:

http://www.blackcommentator.com/66/66_cover_thanksgiving.html

However you spent your day, I hope that it was respectful and peaceful.

P.S. - If anyone else wishes to share something they did or pondered yesterday, send it in and I will put it up here.
Posted by: # Virgil / 9:25 AM 1 comments Links to this post

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Another Tragic Loss 

Yesterday we learned of the death of our sweet Annie,



the chicken we saved from eminent demise in the highway after she fell from a truck hauling her to slaughter. You may remember reading that we had let her go with a very close friend to keep a blind hen company after the rooster who had done so died of old age. Well, Annie didn't get a chance to die of old age. From the description I got - no wounds, nothing to indicate any sort of injury or illness, just found dead the next morning, it sounds like she also died in the same way that our rooster recently died - from "flip-over syndrome" (better known as a heart attack).

Well, obviously, when we got that call yesterday morning we were devastated, especially Laura. Lots of tears were shed. (**note from Laura - being shed as I type this - she was so special) That's why we not only did not post this news yesterday, but didn't even send out the normal personal emails to our nearest and dearest friends that we do (you know who you are) when something of this magnitude happens. We just couldn't. Not our precious Annie. We just shut down yesterday, got offline, and talked and played some music and just generally were hermits.

It was so upsetting, but sadly, not surprising. This is just something that the industry has promoted in these chickens by genetically messing them up to the point that their little baby internal organs don't catch up fast enough to accodomodate the extra-fast growing cycle. They are never intended to live past slaughter age, so the industry doesn't worry about that. No, they just want them when they are still peeping at 7 weeks of age, with all manner of ailments, but still enough of them alive that it is still profitable to slaughter and sell them.

As a result, many of the ones who miraculously escape this fate and end up in sanctuaries just don't make it, despite the fact that we give them the very best care we possibly can. Annie was yet another on that horrible and tragic list. Our sweet Annie - the sweetest and most loving chicken either of us have ever known.

It's funny that most people focus on the extremely large numbers of birds like her that die every die each day - an enormous number that we can't possibly even imagine (can you really imagine millions of chickens?) and not on the fact that each and every one is an individual just like she was. Just like the rooster was and all the others we have buried on this little piece of woods.

Annie and Beau, both buried this year, among others.



That's the hardest part of rescuing animals that I have to death with. The graves.

There have been too many graves dug here this years. Too many lives lost.

Yes, at least, even for their short time, they were loved. But it still breaks your heart to lose them. They are so loved.

As individuals.

Rest in peace, sweet Annie.

You were loved by many and will never be forgotten.
Posted by: # Virgil / 8:53 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Musings and Updating You on More Progress 

First off, I want to let you all know that we have finally gotten the three male dogs that For the Sake of Animals sent us neutered, so they are one step closer to being ready to adopt out. However, Dusty, the one who has the red mange (that is not contagious) needs more treatment than For the Sake of Animals told us he did and gave us medicine for. They brought us medicine (Ivermectin) for him and the other three they brought us and told us to mix it in with a little bit of canned food (which they also supplied because it tastes so bad) for three days. Well, according to the vet, this should be done for 2-3 months! So, we have now informed For the Sake of Animals that not only are the dogs all fixed now, but that the amount of medicine they sent was inadequate to take care of the problem. We had to leave a message, as the lady who runs the group was at work, so we are now waiting on them to answer us back to see what they want us to do next. But, at least we have made more progress there. The dogs are fixed, and 3 out of 4 ready to be adopted out to good forever homes.

We have discovered an interesting thing about Bill. He is afraid of hats with lettering on them. Apparently, whoever the man was who abused him wore a hat with letters on it. We have noticed this because whenever I am wearing such a hat, he is afraid, but the times he let me pet him, I was wearing a toboggan. He was even afraid of Laura the other day when she walked out of the house wearing her Vegan cap. And, it didn't even seem to matter when she realized what happened and took it off immediately. She had had it on, and he was afraid and wouldn't come out of his house. He just stood there inside of it, peeking around the corner of it at her. He is never afraid of her, so it has to be the hats. It is going to take quite a long time to get this dog to where he is adoptable.

On another front, I had planned on writing my usual "Happy Veteran's Day" post yesterday, but somehow it just didn't feel right. You know how sometimes something you see or read just somehow really gets to you, and you can't seem to get it out of your mind, even though you might have seen or read similar things? Well, that is what happened yesterday here. Laura was too depressed to type anything out after reading an article on what the day used to be called. The article, written by Steven Laffoley, and found in Common Dreams (one of our favorite news sources, btw), was called, "Almost Like a Day for Peace" and just really got to her. As she went through the day, going through emails and reading articles and doing everything she normally does, she just kept returning to the thoughts expressed in that article and continued to have tears welling up. Finally, she just broke down in my arms and cried, wishing that the whole world could finally be at peace, with no suffering, no greed and corruption, no suffering, no meanness. Then she stated that she just couldn't do any more reading or working that day, shut the computer off, and decided to go outside in the beautful woods that she loves so much and find such peace in, and work for awhile, which we did. (In case you haven't checked the photo page lately and/or don't subscribe to it, there are new photos that we posted there the other day, with a little commentary, showing views of the riverbank with the trees changing color. Which reminds me of an email I received the other day from a subscriber to this site, saying she hasn't been receiving her emails telling her of updates. I established a feed in the sidebar for this and other reasons that you can use to stay current if that is happening to you, too.) Anyway, that article reminded me of the fact that one of my uncles who had fought in WWI (he was a Native American sniper) had never ceased to call that day Armistice Day, even after they changed it to Veteran's Day during WWII. Laura and I both spent some time talking about this and wishing that we could go back to calling the day that - a day for celebrating peace. Maybe one day...

Today, already she has found more articles about "support the troops," like this one, that we completely agree with, and she has started to get upset again, but not nearly as much, so at least we were able to write this post and get you all updated. Nothing has been as bad as this one that was written when the 2000 mark hit. She cried all the way through that one, and then we passed it on to everyone, especially to those we know that voted for Bush and continue to support this war.

Anyway, enough of the somber grief and sadness. Let's get back to what we have been doing lately around here. It's a little bit of a happier story. No need to get Laura all upset again as she types this up (she has already teared up just doing so, and I don't want to make that any worse than it already is).

The day before we had already raked up the yard and taken wheelbarrows upon wheelbarrows of leaves to the chickens to the point that they were about a foot high in their houses and close to it in the yards. I saw yesterday where our sole lonely rooster had made his comfy nest where he had already wallowed out a spot in his house in the corner. The others were doing their usual excited business that they always do when we bring them fresh leaves, scratching through them, tossing them high in the air, and gobbling up whatever kinds of bugs they could find.

I also got some more firewood ready yesterday for Laura's mother. It's still some I cut from last year that just had to be split. We are trying to gather up all of it that is still good and burn it until I can get my chainsaw out of the shop, which will probably be Monday, if everything goes well and as expected. I'm not supposed to run it at all, according to my doctor, but I am the only one here who can, and there isn't enough wood for the winter already cut, so I am just going to have to go against doctor's orders and do it. I will take it easy, though, and do only it a little at a time. I really won't have any choice about that, as my back is still in pretty bad shape from that tree falling on me. That's also the reason that the wonderful new expansion hasn't gone anywhere yet, though I do plan to start on that, too once my chainsaw gets back to me. We will just start out small and keep adding on, as opposed to doing the whole thing at one time. boy, I sure do wish I had some help in doing that, as it will be a big job. A really big one. But, it will certainly be worth it to be able to let the chickens roam free inside of it and engage in all of their natural behaviors. Plus, it will give us enough more room to be able to take in more of them when needed. And, an added bonus is that it will allow us to let them inside the gardens to till the ground up and get out all of the weed seeds and larvae of the pests that eat our veggies every year. They and we will both enjoy that! Less work for us and more fun for them - a win-win situation for all! :)

Everything else is about the same ol' routine as always. We are still looking for companions for our rooster, though. So, if anyone has any or hears of any, please let me know. He is awfully lonely. It is just breaking our hearts - all of us. Even Laura's mother, who was so afraid of him and the one who died, and who first used the term "the monsters," has had her heart melt at his sadness and feels differently now. He is certainly not so aggressive anymore. He hasn't tried to attack me once since the other one died. It's just so sad...

We realize that death is an inevitable part of rescue, but each one is a blow to the heart. The one bright spot in all of this is that we now have one chicken pen not being used, so we have room to take in more rescues, should they come our way. And, that's the one thing that I am certain about - that they will...

Again thank you to everyone for your kind emails and your financial support. We appreciate every bit of it. We work really hard, and it is nice to know that our work is so appreciated and that it makes such a difference in so many people's lives. Every single person who writes us to tell us that they have gone vegetarian just literally makes our day. Because we know that just that one person has saved the lives of thousands of animals by never eating any of them again. And that, usually, they will become activists themselves, reaching even more people, like a domino effect. Emails like those make everything we have suffered worthwhile and truly do make our day and our work more rewarding. So, keep them coming, you new veggies! They are what keeps us going through the hard and depressing times, just as the financial help keeps us going through the times when funds are non-existent and we don't know how we will feed everyone another week. Thank you all for helping us however you can. It really does mean a lot to us to hear from you.

And, for all my fellow vets out there, Happy Veteran's/Armistice Day to you, even if it is a day late. May there be a day when we can call it the latter again. May there be a day when we don't send young boys to come back from the battlefield men forever haunted by what we saw and did there. You know what I mean, my brothers. Only other vets with their boots on the ground really understand what war is like. And this is one who does. You have my respect and my friendship always, no matter what. I'm behind you all the way. A virtual salute to you. Keep your heads down, stay safe, and come back home where you belong.

Have a good day, everyone.
Posted by: # Virgil / 8:27 AM 1 comments Links to this post

Sunday, November 06, 2005

More Corroboration About Chicken Catching 

Some of you who have been reading this blog from the beginning may remember my discussions about catching chickens. I started doing this job at night when I was only 14 years old to help support my family, as I was the oldest, and we lived in extreme poverty in the Ozarks. Even so, I still got up each morning and went to school each day and graduated with good grades. From what I know and have spoken about this horrible job and the terrible abuse of the chickens, I can say with certainty that what you are about to read is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, this sort of thing happens every day and night. Some places use the new automated chicken catching machines, which are supposed to be more humane (Although they are harder on the workers at the slaughter plants because they suck up more dust, feces, and even the lime that is used to keep the smell down - we hated it when Tyson started using them in some of the houses, and some chickens are still broken and maimed in the process - there is simply no "humane" way to catch terrified baby chickens and stuff them in the cages on the trucks. Period.), but as you will see from the statements of two people hired on to do this job, nothing has really changed in all these years. Many houses are still caught by the same means that they were way back when I was a teenager. You may also remember that I spoke about the fact that the need for speed was important because we were paid per bird, not per hour, and we would not take breaks to eat or anything in order to be finished early and get through so that we could go home. Hence, the brutality and rushing around to get done. Even if you aren't a sadist, like the person who enjoys killing runts, you can't help but injure chickens when you are running and working as fast as you can. If they paid people by the hour instead of by the number of birds caught in a night, the process would no doubt be a little more humane.

There is a summary story about this here, but I will simply put the entire statements of these two shocked and upset individuals in full in this post. I believe that they speak for themselves without any further comments from me. I am just glad that more and more people are coming forwrd and speaking out against the absolute brutality of this horrible industry.

I continue to hope and wish that more people will follow my lead and continue to come forward with their stories. And, as I have said before, if you workers want to have your say, but are afraid of losing your jobs and want to remain anonymous, I will be glad to post your stories here without revealing who you are, letting you see and appriove any post before it is made public, just as I have done before with others. Believe it or not, most of us activists really do care about you (I certainly do!), and the things we are trying to change about this industry will definitely improve your lives and working conditions. My activism started with the idea of simply improving the working conditions at the plant I worked at. I still want to help you. But we need more of you to come forward, whether by name or anonymously. Just get your stories out to the public if you want your jobs to be less hellish.

For the rest of you, keep in mind that this and every horror story on this blog is what you support each and every time you risk your health and that of your kids by taking a bite of chicken. This is what your hard-earned dollars support, and therefore you are complicit in this suffering if you eat chicken. Hopefully, as more and more people find out the truth, they will turn to the alternatives like Laura and I (and many others) have and not eat them ever again.
====================================
Statement of Whistleblower Chad Haberstock
I, Chad Haberstock, took a job as a "chicken catcher" for Brian's Poultry in southern Ontario, Canada on May 12, 2003. It was a horrible experience for my girlfriend and me, but it was even worse for the chickens.

Upon entering each barn that night, we were hit with the overpowering stench of ammonia, clouds of dust, and dirty wood chips. At the first barn, which was kosher, we were told that catchers could only carry two chickens in each hand and that we were to hold each chicken by both legs to prevent the breaking of blood vessels. Holding the chickens by two legs (instead of using the standard one-leg rule)
caused much less damage and injury to the chickens, though it did require more care and time on the part of the workers-time that most farmers in other barns didn't want us to take.

On the other farms, we were required to carry eight chickens at a time-double the number that we carried in the kosher barn. I tried to handle these chickens with care, but I could still feel their bones crushing under their own weight as I held them. These were not very big chickens, and we held four-each by one leg-in each hand. I was trying to be gentle because my heart went out to these poor animals, but I could still feel the chickens' legs breaking in my hands. Carrying four chickens in each hand puts a lot of pressure on certain chickens, causing their legs to pop out of joint or their bodies to crush under the weight of the other chickens. The swinging motion that was used to lift the chickens up to the loaders caused the most damage because the pressure of the swing and the weight of the other chickens pushing down on the leg of the chicken on the end caused the leg to shatter or pop. The loaders applied even more pressure when they grabbed the chickens out of my hands, causing even greater damage and breakage. The loaders grabbed the chickens very forcefully, shoving them into the crates. A few times, my fingers were grabbed with the chickens' legs, and it was surprising to feel how much pressure the loaders applied.

Around the loading doors, there were a lot of injured chickens, lingering in pain on the ground. These chickens had either been dropped by the loaders or were left behind in the catching and loading frenzy. Many of these chickens couldn't walk properly and, therefore, could not move themselves out from under our feet, so they were injured and crushed. In all the barns, including the kosher barn, I witnessed chickens who wandered out into the open being kicked and stepped on by workers, then left to die with damaged legs and broken wings. I also heard numerous callous comments from the workers, such as: "They're not really animals," "I hate chickens," "I just want to kill them," "Just don't think about them," "Just don't worry about them," and "Just kick them out of the way."

The chickens were also mistreated in the process of trying to corral them. Large, plastic gates were used to contain groups of chickens in certain parts of the barn. I did not see a problem with this, until I saw the gates being put into place by some of the workers. They were dropped onto the chickens and forced down in a very aggressive manner, making the chickens move and crushing them if they didn't move fast enough. I witnessed a number of injuries that were caused by this method of gate placement. I also noticed a lot of injured chickens around the gates, many with broken wings.

====================================
Statement of Whistleblower Sally Mitchell

On the evening of Monday, May 12, 2003, my boyfriend, Chad Haberstock, and I accepted positions working as "chicken catchers" for Brian's Poultry Services (BriansPoultry.com), based in Mildmay, Ontario in Canada. We were hired almost immediately over the phone with no references and no questions asked. We had no idea what we were in for.

A company van picked us up at 6 p.m., and as we climbed inside with other employees who had been hired for the same position, it quickly became obvious that there would be no friends made here. No one was interested in learning our names, and if not for two boys who talked to us in the back of the van, we would not have understood what we would be doing as "catchers" that night. The boys told us that we would feel badly afterward and have trouble breathing but that we would "get used to it."

When we arrived at the first farm, I learned that the chickens are kept in total darkness. The lights in the barn were turned up when we entered so that we could see to put down the gates that are used to catch the chickens. When that had been done, the lights were very slowly turned down again. Walking through thousands of chickens as the lights dimmed and the sound of electricity faded away made me think of the fear and confusion of gas chambers. It was like a bad dream.

We were informed that the first barn was a "two-leg barn," meaning that we were allowed to carry only four birds at a time and that each one had to be carried by two legs. The heavy gates, which weighed approximately 10 pounds each, were thrown around the barn to trap the chickens so that they would be easier to catch. Even though this was supposed to be the barn where chickens were not hurt, the catchers threw the gates around without regard for the chickens' safety, crushing and trapping many of them beneath the gates. If the gates were not even with the ground, the catchers would lean all their weight on the gates and force them to the floor, crushing the live chickens who were caught below. Walking across the barn from the gates to the door was insane. It was impossible not to crush chickens underfoot. It took so long for me to cross because, with every step, I felt crushing and heard screaming. I carefully tried to move the chickens out of my way, but other employees just ran from side to side as if they didn't notice the sea of bodies under their feet.

When the doors of the barn were opened, the real horror began. A truck was backed up to the open doors, exposing these birds to the outside world for the first time. They panicked. There is no way to deny that those birds were terrified and confused. That was when I started feeling guilty. I looked at the birds and knew that it was the end for them-there was no escape. We began grabbing chickens and holding them upside-down by their legs, carrying two in each hand and giving them to "loaders" in the truck, who threw and slammed them into tiny transport crates. This process was brutal, and it's amazing that any of the chickens were alive at that point. There were 7,000 chickens inthe barn, and it took about an hour to load them into the truck. When we were finished, I couldn't breathe, but I knew that we had another farm to go to.

Little did I know that things were about to get much worse. We were split into two teams, and as we approached the next barns, one of the workers started yelling, "I get the runts! I get the runts!" When I asked him what he meant, he said that, in order to get a higher weight in the truck, they wanted to load only the big chickens and kill the smaller ones. He explained how he smashed the skulls of the "runts" until they were dead. He was assigned to the other barn, so I did not have to witness this.

The next barn was absolute hell. You wouldn't believe what it was like unless you were there. We had to wake 38,000 sleeping baby chickens and terrify and break them. In this barn, there were none of the restrictions of the first barn. We were told to pick up eight chickens at a time and to hold each one by one leg-four chickens in each hand. Chad told me that he could feel the chickens' legs snap and pop when he handed them up to the loader on the truck. The chickens tried to huddle in groups, but occasionally, one would stray into the middle of the floor and get stepped on and kicked around. It broke my heart. I only worked a little while in this barn before I had to sit down because of the combination of exhaustion and emotional strain. I made eye contact with some of the young chickens, who were so little that they weren't even clucking yet, just cheeping. It just killed me. They started huddling under me for safety when I knelt down. Some people think that chickens don't have feelings, but it was perfectly clear how scared these animals were. It was absolute hell-there are no better words to describe that graphic scene. It was death. It was screaming babies with no one to help them. Worse, I knew that I was only seeing a very small percentage of the billions of chickens who are killed every year in the industry. I couldn't do it anymore, so Chad and I both went and sat out for the last hour while the final truck was loaded.

I cried the whole way home. I only made it half of one night, but the biggest shock came when I realized that the catchers do this every day and have been doing it for years-some of them for their entire working lives. The brutality that these people inflicton animals shocked me. Ever since that day, my boyfriend and I have sworn off meat. Most people don't know what happens to animals in the meat industry, but now, you know that there is a fate worse then death for these chickens-their journey to slaughter.
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Want to email Brian's Poultry with your comments? Here is their email address: sseitz@brianspoultry.on.ca
Posted by: # Virgil / 9:55 AM 1 comments Links to this post

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Progress! 

I just wanted to share the joy of progress I have made with Bill, the very abused little terrier mix that is so afraid of men. Yesterday, for the very first time, I petted him. It was only for a second, but he allowed it when I was out feeding him. Then again today, when I went to feed him, he allowed it again. I can only hold my hand with palm up and scratch him under the chin a little bit, but today was the first time he didn't growl at me when I came near his pen. So, more progress is being made with him! :)

Also, though I personally thanked the person who arranged a food donation through our local feed store, I wanted to publicly thank her for taking the time to do so and being generous to make sure that everyone had some food. She also included a bird feeder with wild bird food to go with it.

So, if there are any of you out there who wish to donate this way, you can do this too, though she told me that they are no longer accepting credit cards. I guess you could always mail them a check or something. I am not sure. the woman's name who arranged this is named Joyce, and she would be able to tell you how to make arrangements to make donations this way. Anyway, if any of you choose this option to help feed the animals, here is the information for the feed store we use:

Parks & Hansen, Inc.
P.O. Box 506
4th and Gillhamn
Mena, AR 71953
479-394-2663

We use Tops 21 for dog food, Allway and Chops (screened corn) for chicken food (though the person who made the donation also added in some scratch, which the chickens love! - We will have to get them more of this!). She also added cat food, which we weren't even aware that they sold, and like I mentioned, the wild bird food and feeder. I have hung the feeder in such a way that I don't believe the squirrels can get to it, but we will see. They are pretty smart and agile...

Since we are not yet an official non-profit, I can understand the wariness of some people as to whether or not their donations are truly used for the animals. Well, this is one way you can be sure that they are. I had never thought of this before, so thank you for not only making the food donation, but giving people another way to help out!

Well, now that everyone is now fed, the bird feeder hung and filled, I believe it is time for me to go and fill my own belly, so I will cut this post short. I just wanted to share this happy bit of news with you all since good news in the animal protection community is scarce.

Another quick note to thank everyone who sent me cards and all for my birthday. I think I remembered to thank each and every person personally, but if I missed any of you, it was not on purpose. There was so much going on at that time that it was hard to remember what I had done and what was still on the list of what I still needed to do. So, if I missed thanking you personally, please forgive me and take this as a public thank you to all that sent cards, letters, and donations. They were very much appreciated.
Posted by: # Virgil / 4:21 PM 0 comments Links to this post

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