Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmastime at Longwood Gardens

I love to see the gardens and light show at Longwood Gardens at Christmastime.

The main display is always stunning.

Beautiful flowers are everywhere.

A display of apples.

The orchid room is always gorgeous.

Creative decorations

Lots of lovely displays.

A little forest!

Trees decorated by children.

A tree of cupcakes!

How many trees did we see today?

Yes, bananas have flowers!

This tree is decorated with dried artichokes!

The magic  happens when the sun sets.

A fountain of light.

A magical train display.

Oooh!!! Aaaahhh!! The fountain show!!!!

Paths lined by green trees.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice Hike in Lambertville, Dry Run Creek Trail

Saturday was the Winter Solstice, which marks the beginning of Winter, but also the lengthening of the days. From now on, our world is getting brighter, lighter, and eventually, warmer. What better way to celebrate the occasion than with a beautiful hike outdoors!

We are having an unusual warm spell, with temperatures in the low sixties. However, we recently had a couple of large snowstorms, so the trails were covered with snow and sometimes ice. Lovely patterns of melting ice bordered the creek.

A nice little surprise tucked away, apparently a bench made by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

A pretty creek wound through the park.

It was fun to hike on snow covered trails in weather warm enough for T-shirts!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Farm Sanctuary, Watkins Glen, NY, Celebration for the Turkeys

This weekend I traveled to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY, for their annual Celebration for the Turkeys, a time to celebrate compassionate living, spend time with animals, and honor our special feathered friends, the turkeys!

Farm Sanctuary is a shelter for more than 500 rescued farm animals. These animals are given a life free from the conditions of the factory farms, and they also help to educate people and enable them to get to know the animals as the wonderful, unique, special beings they are. Visitors go home with the inspiration and knowledge to live a compassionate life.

The setting: beautiful Watkins Glen, NY, in the Finger Lakes region on Lake Seneca.

Here is Thunder grazing peacefully in the field. He is a big bull! We don't usually see animals this size because they are slaughtered very young, veal cows practically in infancy, and even dairy cows don't live more than 4 or 5 years until their poor bodies are spent from continuous cycles of pregnancy and lactation.

Enjoying the sunny November day.

I was surprised to find out pigs are so curious and interactive! Since we visited the cows during their "lunch time", they were, for the most part, uninterested in us, but the pigs were fascinated!!!! Who are you? What do you look like and smell like? Do you have anything for me?

Goats in coats!!!!! Elderly goats lose body fat, so they need protection from the cold.

Here is Michael with a shelter visitor. You can see how gentle and affectionate he is.

I loved the sheep! When you approached them, they ran away, but if you stood still, and even knelt down, they would gradually come near you to be petted.

Lots and lots of chickens everywhere!

This is Turpentine. This beautiful bird was destined for the dinner plate, but fate brought him here instead. He is one of the most popular animals because he is so photogenic. He also likes to have his picture taken, and has a reputation for photo bombing many pics!

The moment we have been waiting for!!!! Time to feed the turkeys!!! They had special plates of pumpkin, cranberries, greens, and squash. They loved the cranberries, the squash, not so much.

Here is Tulip enjoying some greens. She is de-beaked and de-toed, like so many commercially bred birds, so eating becomes a little more difficult. This food is specially prepared for her and the other turkeys.

The children love Tulip!!! Most importantly, they go home after interacting with and getting to know live animals, and they learn to live compassionate, sensitive lives. These animals are educators!

See how they love the cranberries?

I'm chllin' here in the sun, because I'm a pig, and that's how I roll.

Critters come in all shapes and sizes!

The pigs get to celebrate too! We smashed the pumpkins for them to enjoy as a treat!

Oh they loved the pumpkins!!!

Man, this is goooood!!!!

I'm just hanging out here eating pumpkins with my friends. Don't come near my pumpkin.


This is Ari. I got to spend quite a bit of time with him, petting him while he rested in the sun and chewed on some grass. Ari's mother was a "spent" dairy cow who gave birth to him prematurely while she was taken for slaughter. Someone found him in a heap and thought he was a jacket!!!! Here he is, thriving and growing, with a second chance at life.

More sheep!!! It was so much fun to observe these gentle animals with such strong bonds with each other.

After our shelter time, we had a fantastic vegan dinner. Susie Coston of Farm Sanctuary , spoke to us about turkeys. They are artificially bred to be several times their natural weight, and as a result, have many health problems. Turkeys will try to maintain their natural behavior, and the young turkeys (who haven't been de-toed), will try to roost in the trees, It's not safe for them because of their unnaturally large size, so someone has to climb the tree and bring them down! The turkeys can't do this for long, because they quickly grow too large to roost. They are sensitive animals with unique personalities, they can be very friendly and affectionate towards humans, and they are intelligent birds and excellent parents to their young. Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary,  spoke to us about the history and mission of Farm Sanctuary, and Zoe Weil, president of the Institute for Humane Education, told us that we are all educators with our own lives. She encouraged us to be more like a warm, welcoming campfire and not like a raging forest fire in our approach! She urged a compassionate, respectful, inspiring, non-demanding approach to our activism.

It was a wonderful weekend, lots of time spent bonding with these beautiful animals, fantastic vegan Thanksgiving food, and inspiring and motivating talks.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Buttermilk Falls, Delaware Water Gap, New Jersey

We had a brisk Fall weekend, perfect for hiking and viewing Autumn colors at the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey. The key to staying comfortable was layers! It was so cold I started out with all 4 layers, but after some steep climbs I was down to just 2, and then eventually 3 again!

Buttermilk Falls, easily viewable from the trail head. The trail starts with a steep ascent along the side of these falls.

Forest floor covered in leaves

Blue skies, sunshine, and Fall colors

My idea of serenity, a walk in the woods...

A vista with Autumn colors

A view of Crater Lake

Another perspective

The trail winds around the lake.

Beautiful Autumn colors pop up everywhere.

A path through the forest

Hemlock Pond

Another view of the pond


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