Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge is a special place. You can feel its heart when entering the refuge, as founder Lenore Braford greets you with a warm, welcoming smile. There’s a sense of peace and easy living at this sanctuary, although taking care of the animals and dealing with daily tasks can be far from simple.
Expressive Personalities, special relationships and love stories abound on this 20-acre haven. When they are not stressed and can relax and bloom in a natural habitat, animals are able to form strong relationships with each other. As such, one or two love stories have been realized at the refuge. The story of Henry and Henrietta is a perfect example.
Love at (almost) first sight
I loved meeting Henry. He called to me from a far off corner when I entered the barn, and continued to call until I finally reached his enclosure and paid him the undivided attention he felt he deserved. He was clearly someone to go after what he wanted! Feathers fluffed and head back, Henry was thrilled to be noticed. His mate, Henrietta, who was eyeing us from a cautious distance, proved to be far more reserved and aloof than her man.
Though these two lovebirds are inseparable now, their courtship started off a little shaky. Henry arrived at the farm before his mate, surrendered by a kind woman who purchased him as a baby chick, believing he was a hen, and eventually ended up sponsoring him at the refuge. Henry was anxious to settle down and was overjoyed when Henrietta arrived.
Henrietta was found wandering around in a parking lot and was brought to the refuge for a chance at a better life. She, however, was less than pleased with her new mate and demanded a proper courtship. In fact, she immediately flew next door and decided to live with Apollo and Tony, two rescued turkeys. They welcomed her into their duo and the three would roost each night, with Henrietta in the middle. Poor Henry. He would bring all of his treats to the fence for her, dancing and showing off rooster-style, but for months Henrietta remained unimpressed and appeared perfectly happy with her turkey buddies. Then, slowly, she started paying more and more attention to his advances, visiting Henry at the fence and strolling its length. Finally, one morning, cupid struck. Henrietta flew over to be with Henry and they have remained devoted mates ever since.
Henry’s survival story is unique and he is a rare, fortunate rooster. As a chick, he was labeled as a hen, a common error made by the workers who swiftly sort male and female chicks from a conveyor belt. As a male chick, he would have been killed soon after the sorting process. Destruction of male chicks is a worldwide practice. They are either thrown into meat grinders while still alive, electrocuted or suffocated one top of one another in large trash bags. This is the fate of 250 million male chicks born to hens in the U.S. egg industry each year. Henry got very lucky.
A lovebird bromance
Another farm love story, of sorts, is that of the Three Amigos: three rescued turkeys who are, as their moniker suggests, a united trio. For Louie, Andi and Jordan, life at the refuge is a far cry from the factory farm setting in which they were born.
For factory farmed animals – which make up roughly 99% of all animals raised and slaughtered in the United States – life is bleak and violent. They are packed into dark warehouses so tight they can barely move, sometimes as many as 10,000 per building. As the turkeys mature, all their natural instincts are disregarded, including roosting or even spreading their wings. These factory farmed turkeys are bred to grow much faster than their wild turkey counterparts, causing them to suffer from heart and circulatory disorders, as well as painful foot and leg deformities. These marginalized birds are slaughtered at around 4 – 6 months of age.
Turkeys form deep friendships and emotional bonds. They are intelligent and sociable animals and love human attention. As I witnessed with Louie, Andi and Jordan, they will sit quietly while being snuggled and petted. Likewise, they are quick to reciprocate and will dance, prance and fluff their feathers for your enjoyment. Fortunately, these three handsome amigos get to spend the rest of their footloose and fancy-free lives at this lovely refuge. Every turkey should be so lucky.
Sending love from afar
A visit to Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge is medicine for the soul, leaving one humbled, grateful and nourished from the love the animals so selflessly bestow. This truly is a place with heart.
But whether you are able to visit the refuge or not, be sure to send your love to some fortunate chickens and turkeys that were saved from slaughter this Thanksgiving. You can do so by visiting and supporting your local farm sanctuary, or even sending your love from afar, by sponsoring a chicken or a turkey from the refuge as part of the vegan Thanksgiving spirit.
Many refuges have a sponsorship program, and you can even sponsor Henry, Henrietta, or one of the ’Three Amigos’ at the Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge, using this link.
May you have a compassionate Thanksgiving, filled with love!
Cover image: courtesy of Paige Dixon
Guest Post by Paige Dixon
Hello! I’m Paige. I live in Chapel Hill, NC with the two loves of my life: my husband, Don and my canine son, Finn. I have been a vegan for about a year and half and it has been an amazing journey; by far one of the best decisions I have ever made. I’m passionate about all things vegan, and high on the list are animal welfare, food and fashion. My kitchen is my sanctuary and I love creating delicious, nutritious vegan dishes for family and friends.