Full Circle Farm Sanctuary

This past weekend, I had the extreme pleasure of road tripping to my beloved Asheville to volunteer at Full Circle Farm Sanctuary. My new friends and I have talked about going for a while to visit the animals and live on the farm for a spell. And though my car took a giant dump on my life by getting a flat, having me purchase 4 new tires, and getting new brakes all in the span of 3 days, nothing could stop me from this road trip up north. Have I mentioned how much I love Asheville? Oh right, you’re already up to speed.

We headed out early Saturday morning for an overnight stay at the sanctuary (FCFS). After my week-long stay at my friend’s house this summer, I am still convinced that I want to own a farm or work on a farm one day. I feel such a strong connection to farm animals, and specifically to cows, that I long to be with them and take care of them. Volunteering at FCFS would be the closest I’ve gotten to being with farm animals. I realized that I had never touched a pig before, let alone a goat, an emu, or a llama. Who hangs with pigs like they’re your homies? Apparently I do.

The crew: Daniel, Holly (back left), Krista (back right), and myself.

The crew: Daniel, Holly (back left), Krista (back right), and myself.

On the way to Burnsville (where FCFS is located), we stopped at what is now my most favorite grocery store ever: Earth Fare. It’s like Whole Foods and Sprouts made a baby and that baby has dread locks and wears patchouli and is named Earth Fare. We got a few things for the trip and then drove around the back to dumpster dive. Side note: we already had permission to do this. And are you aware how much perfectly good food grocery stores throw out? A travesty. We filled two trash bags with veggies and fruit for the animals, a delicious treat for them (and a sure fire way of ensuring that they would love us forever. I’m not above buying love with food). News alert: there’s an Earth Fare in Athens and they will be building one in Norcross. Yay!

Next door to Earth Fare is a restaurant called Green Sage Cafe. Holly and I were hungry so we popped inside to grab some grub. This place is great: meaty meals with vegan and gluten free options, yummy salads and wraps, and local ingredients. I decided on the Avocado BLT with tempeh (because duh) and a side of fries. Holly got the Spinach Chickpea Burger. Mine was DELICIOUS and the fries were hot and salty and amazing and everything was gone in approximately 5 seconds flat.

Avocado BLT.

Avocado BLT.

We continued on to FCFS and were taken aback by these animals as they came over to greet us: 6 goats, 2 pigs, 1 emu, 1 llama, 2 roosters, 4 geese, 2 guinea fowl, 4 ducks, 10 hens, 4 dogs, and 6 cats. It was amazing to see all of them frolicking around, playing in the sun, and smelling us for pets and food. I had never met a pig, a goat, an emu or a llama before and didn’t realize that I would be slightly nervous. But time would tell the truth about these animals: they are as amazing and sweet and with such distinct personalities as a cat or dog.

Allow me to introduce you to my new friends:

Nemo.

Nemo.

Nemo came to FCFS with matted hair and an intense personality. He has begrudgingly become PlantBasedATL’s mascot, as his apathy for everyone and everything is infectious. If Nemo were to speak, he assuredly would say, “UGH. I cared about you until you fed me. And then I realized that I never actually cared.” Nemo gives no f*cks. None. I love him. Here is Holly trying in vain to pet him as he ran away:

Come back!

Come back!

Why won't you let me love you??

Why won’t you let me love you??

She eventually got to kiss his sweet face, but only because he was being fed.

Don't touch me.

Don’t touch me.

Food?

Food?

So close, yet so far.

So close, yet so far.

Meet Penelope Permission Pigsworth (Penny):

The first pig I've ever met.

The first pig I’ve ever met.

A sweet 800-pound lady with a penchant for belly rubs and sweet nothings whispered in her ear, Penny is my homie. Have you ever seen a pig lay down like a dog and demand that her belly be rubbed immediately? She cooed and purred, she was so happy. And I was happy to oblige. She lives with Babar, her 600-pound male friend that she completely dominates and scares away. He is a sweet soul.

Oh, Penny you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, hey Penny!

Oh, Penny you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Penny!

Rub my belly.

Rub my belly.

Penny and Babar.

Penny and Babar.

Possibly my most favorite picture of all time: Penny and I, both smiling.

Possibly my most favorite picture of all time: Penny and I, both smiling.

Daniel, Krista, and Holly had never held a chicken before, so best believe we had to remedy that. My favorite is Ophelia, a beautiful speckled hen with gorgeous colors.

Holly & Ophelia.

Holly & Ophelia.

Krista and Amelia.

Krista and Amara.

Me & Imogene (please refrain from judging my outfit. #farmlife)

Me & Anastasia (please refrain from judging my outfit. #farmlife)

Beau the rooster.

Beau the rooster.

Evangeline.

Evangeline.

Fernando the emu freaked me the hell out when I first met him, honestly because he reminded me of a velociraptor and I feared for my life. His stare is intense and he likes shiny things, so he pecked at my buttons. He has giant dinosaur feet with lizard-like skin and the most beautiful and soft feathers you’ve ever seen. He is a giant baby, as eventually he calmed down enough for neck rubs. Emus are killed for their skin, oils, feather, and flesh, but Fernando will live out his days happy:

Fernando.

Fernando.

The goats are amazing and I am now obsessed with them. They are precocious, smart, funny, kind, and sweet animals. Zephyr is the alpha goat at FCFS yet he is the smallest. Nestor and Heidi are my favorite. Nestor is blind and even has his own Facebook page. Heidi is his ride-or-die goat lady friend. Her horns were cauterized off without anesthesia by her previous owner.

Sweet Nestor.

Sweet Nestor and I.

My homegirl Heidi and I.

My homegirl Heidi and I.

Saturday night, we all pitched in and made a delicious dinner to include: homemade mac n cheese, pot pie. pasta with sausage, and crusty bread with butter. Basically, we ate all of the carbs the world had to offer. It was amazing and lovely to sit around and eat after a day on the farm. After dinner, Kayla (FCFS’s founder and owner) told us the stories of how these animals came to the sanctuary. Mostly the stories were sad and horrible, filled with people treating animals like garbage. If people got to know these animals and their personalities, they would realize how special they are and how lucky we are to be in their presence.

Pasta with sausage.

Pasta with sausage.

Dinner!

Dinner!

For breakfast on Sunday morning, we made french toast, bacon and sausage with egg nog and juice. WHAT! My brain exploded from the sheer foodgasm that was happening in my mouth. Whoever said vegans are weak and only eat salad has never met this motley crew!

We went into town later for some yummy Chinese food at this little joint in Burnsville called Little Tokyo. You all should know by now that I love some Asian food with a deep passion, but more intensely I love any sort of spring roll/egg roll/dumpling that can be found. The food there did not disappoint:

Sesame tofu.

Sesame tofu.

My favorite kind of boat: one filled with fried veggie dumplings!

My favorite kind of boat: one filled with fried veggie dumplings!

We tried some new products this weekend:

Iced coffee with almond milk and salted caramel flavor.

Iced coffee with almond milk and salted caramel flavor.

So Delicious' Cocowhip.

So Delicious’ Cocowhip.

I generally drink my coffee black (like my heart) so I wasn’t the biggest fan of the flavored coffee. The Cocowhip, however, is my new best friend. I imagine that the Cocowhip and I go shopping for new leggings and the Cocowhip will laugh hysterically when I try to pull off a fedora. RUN and get the Cocowhip, and you too can share special moments with your whipped topping.

We headed back to Georgia late Sunday night with love in our hearts: for these animals, for Kayla, for FCFS, for all of the animals that may be saved one day. I am constantly going through my pictures and wishing I was still there, with muddy knees and helping feed everyone breakfast, saying hello to the goats by rubbing their faces. To say this weekend was a life changer is an understatement. I will be forever changed by this experience, by these animals and their sweet faces and loud personalities. If you are so willing, Kayla would love to have you visit the animals or you can donate on the website. These animals want nothing more than to live happy and healthy lives, much like you and I and our pets. It was an honor to have met them and spent time with them.

The reason I am a vegan.

The reason I am a vegan.

I will leave you with my favorite picture from the weekend. As I bent over to grab food for Penny and Babar, Nemo is thinking to himself, “I know the secret to life. And I’m not telling. Don’t touch me.”

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No caption necessary.

 

 

 

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I Have Nothing to Offer the World Today.

Except for what I have found on the interwebs. You see, I have been mouth-breathing, sneezing, and snotty for 4 days now. I am a stubborn a-hole when it comes to getting sick, saying things like “Mind over matter!” and “I have a strong immune system!” This time, however, I think I have to bow down and recognize this cold’s power over me. It started with a severe sore throat on Sunday followed by one hell of a fever (side note: who gets a fever anymore? What am I, 8 years old?). It’s more so just annoying as hell at this point, but yet it lingers, much like that friend who can’t take the hint to leave your house when the party is over.

And so, today I have relished in the most amazing finds the interwebs have to offer this cloudy-headed person. First, I present to you my new pal Ninita, a pygmy marmoset. Next, a panda frolics in the snow. Please see these animals that show their love for one another in fascinating ways. Animals chewing in cute ways actually made me giggle, especially that crazy llama at the end. But at the heart and soul of it all, aren’t you glad that you were not attacked by ants that came out of a flower?

 

(mic dropped.)

Oh Asheville, My Asheville.

I have found it. The place I want to be, the place where I feel at home, the place that feels like me. The smell of patchouli lingered in the mountain air. More than once, I said out loud to Beevy, “These are my people.” There are farms galore, filled with many a cow grazing on a hillside happily. There are so many vegan options it made my head spin. There are people singing on a street corner with a saxophone, guitar cases slowly filling with change. This place is alive. It pulsates with the rhythm of the street, breathing in and out peacefully.

Are you beginning to understand why I love this place so? It makes my heart happy to be in a perfect mixture of farm life and hippies wearing fuzzy hats and mismatched gloves. Also, the food is the JAM. I may or may not have already searched for jobs in Asheville. #YOLO, right?  Light your Nag champa incense, cook a tofu scramble with turmeric, and join me by the fire with your organic fair-trade cotton blanket: it’s time for the recap!

Beevy and I started our road trip one week ago, with too much coffee. Well, to be honest, Beevy is a die hard coffee drinker (she constantly yells at the top of her lungs: “Death before decaf!”) but I am not. I get high on green tea with jasmine, y’all, cause that shiz is bananas. But on this particular Friday, with a glorious road trip in front of me, I decided that it was the perfect time for a giant black coffee which I ended up chugging. To say I was wired is an understatement. A mere 2.5 hours later, Beevy and I were at our first destination: Sunny Point Cafe. We had to wait a few minutes for a seat, but once we made it inside, we jointly decided that we are the smartest people alive and ordered a ton of food. And perhaps a mimosa (read: DEFINITELY a mimosa).

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I'm not at all too excited.

I’m not at all too excited.

Mimosa in a pint glass!

Mimosa in a pint glass!

Sunny Point is super chill, with a menu to fit all appetites; they have meat, veggie items, and vegan goodies. Beevy got an omelette and I decided on the Huevos Fucheros: black bean cakes, tofu chorizo, tomatillo salsa, red skin potatoes, tortilla strips, and a side of tofu bacon for good measure. It reminded me of the chilaquiles I used to eat for breakfast in Mexico, except much more awesome. I’m going to blow your minds when I say that is was so delicious that it took Beevy and I about 45 minutes to clean our plates, but by George we did it. Victory! I’m talking an embarrassing level of clean, folks, except I don’t get embarrassed by cleaning my plate and only feel pride.

Huevos Fucheros.

Huevos Fucheros.

Smoky tofu bacon.

Smoky tofu bacon.

It’s at this point, full on delicious food and mimosa and high on coffee, that I decided it was indeed the perfect time and place to get a tattoo. Remember when I said I wasn’t going to get a tattoo this trip because I was going to be responsible and all that shiz? Right. I remember that, too. Fast forward to Beevy and I walking into Freaks & Geeks and made an appointment for about 2 hours from them. Decision made! To keep ourselves busy, Beevy and I peeked into a thrift store, ran to Ingles, went to get coffee (this time I got a tea, fortheloveofeverythingholy), and popped into a cafe for a vegan cupcake. The coffee joint (called Bean Works) seemed to be renovating so we bounced after getting what we came for. West End Bakery, however, had many a vegan option of bread and sweets for us to indulge in. My chocolate cupcake was not the best cupcake I’ve ever had, and it seemed super dry and crumbly. Beevy said hers was good, but I always want vegan food to blow carnivores away or else I fear they’ll think our food sucks.

West End Bakery.

West End Bakery.

Double chocolate vegan cupcake.

Double chocolate vegan cupcake.

Then, it was time. Tattoo thirty, if you will. We headed back to the shop and got all ready and cozy with Galen, my tattoo artist. He turns out to be quite the attractive man and my palms got clammy (or was that the coffee high?), but I digress: I was there for one reason only. As always, I got nervous before it begins because I know it’s going to hurt like a bastard. And then, as if the universe was working overtime, Otis Redding came on the radio and serenaded me and made me calm again. It was all going to be ok. And now I have my ninth tattoo!

Galen!

Galen!

Otis Redding soothed my soul.

Otis Redding soothed my soul.

Yay!

Yay!

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After that, Beevy and I grabbed some beer (which we did not drink until Saturday) and headed for the cabin in Leicester (allegedly pronounced as “Lestor” but I have my doubts). The place (Compassionate Expressions) we stayed at is beautiful, no doubt about it. It is in the mountains, it is serene, it is calm, it is peaceful. No internet, no tv, no phones. Heaven, right? We were guided around the property by one of the owners and it was, to be fair, one of the craziest experiences I’ve had. I am forever grateful that Beevy was there with me or else no one would believe me. I’m trying to be delicate when I say, with all of the kindness I can muster, that this woman forgot to take her medication that day and crazy was fully stocked. We eventually settled in, had an hour in the hot tub, and went to bed at 9:30 pm with absolutely not a care in the world.

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Saturday greeted us with a warmer day and an eagerness to get to downtown Asheville to see what it had to offer us. Our brunch place didn’t open for about 45 minutes, so we wandered in and out of shops, took pictures in a photo booth (I’m obsessed with them), and people watched. We decided on Laughing Seed Cafe for brunch. They have vegetarian and vegan options, but no meat. We each ordered a beer and the appetizer jalapeno onion fries, which were amazing. Beevy ordered a grilled cheese for her meal and I ordered the tempeh reuben, which was quite honestly one of the best sandwhiches I’ve ever had in my life. I told Beevy she had to try a bite and then I ate it all, just to give you an idea.  Can we talk about the vegan Russian dressing and the caramelized onions? May I someday learn to replicate this sandwich and then never leave my house again and have to be rescued by a crane, it was that good. We ordered another beer and dessert: chocolate chai icecream and a chocolate cherry cookie to split. As Beevy pointed out, the chai icecream is very very chai tasting, so be prepared. We ordered another beer, and it’s at this point that I remembered that my beer is high gravity and we are officially day drinking, which I have never really been successful at.

Laughing Seed Cafe

Laughing Seed Cafe

Jalapeno onion fries.

Jalapeno onion fries.

Tempeh Reuben.

Tempeh Reuben.

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Chocolate chai ice cream.

Chocolate chai ice cream.

Chocolate cherry cookie.

Chocolate cherry cookie.

Beer!

Beer!

Too much beer?

Too much beer?

After 3 hours (I’m not joking) at Laughing Seed, we left to walk around for a while and then drive back to the place we were staying (not before hitting up Starbucks for more coffee). It’s at this point, back at the place, where things get hazy. We decided to crack into the beer we bought on Friday (coincidentally, that beer was also high gravity. Whoops!) and hit the hot tub up. After that, we made some friends that were also staying there and hung out by the fire pit. I shall save what happened later for just Beevy and I, but let me just say that I am indeed to old to drink high gravity beer all day long.

On Sunday, after a completely restless drunk night’s sleep (OLD), Beevy and I checked out and headed back to Asheville to our final destination: Rosetta’s Kitchen. This place is also vegetarian/vegan and they have kombucha on tap, which basically means I asked if I could move into the bathroom and just live there. They fixed me up with sausage, biscuits, gravy, and french fries (hangover food, people). Beevy got a grilled cheese and veggie nuggets. My tummy was still sensitive from last night’s debauchery, so I am sad to say that I didn’t even finish half of my food. It was delicious though, and I plan on going back to drink all of the kombucha and try the rest of the menu.

Grilled cheese and veggie nuggets.

Grilled cheese and veggie nuggets.

Sausage, biscuit, gravy, fries.

Sausage, biscuit, gravy, fries.

Kombucha to the rescue!

Kombucha to the rescue!

All in all, it was one of the best vacations in memory, filled with new adventures, fun people, and too much beer. What more could you want from a weekend?

Celebrating Birthdays at Work: A Rant.

I’ve realized something about myself. It’s not earth-shattering, or even interesting in the slightest. It does, however, make me uncomfortable and at times will make me actually prefer working to it. I’m talking about one of the most dreaded and horrific traditions in the workplace: the birthday celebration.

Do you remember that scene in “Office Space” where everyone is staring with hate in their eyes while cake is being passed around to celebrate the birth of someone they all hate? That’s a slice of shiny rainbow-filled heaven compared to what happens at my office.

We must each, though not everyone actually desires to participate, sponsor someone else’s birthday each calendar year. You must buy the cake of their choice, buy a card and send it around for snippets of “Happy Birthday!” and “Enjoy your day!”, you must decorate the conference room, you must put a banner up on the day of the party, you must send an email out announcing the BIG DAY, you must adhere to office traditions involving a stupid song and holding the cake cutter upside down. To put it plainly, it is the bane of my existence.

God forbid you choose to not have cake because, oh I don’t know, you’re a vegan. Instead you choose to have veggies and hummus. You are really really happy to have these foods because you can actually eat them. This will NEVER BE FORGOTTEN. Your office mates will rue the day you didn’t have cake and will remind you at every meeting that “people who don’t eat cake are weird.” They will make fun of you. They will act like 12-year-old bullies and you will feel like you no longer belong.

Thankfully, my days of awkward hate-filled birthday celebrations for people I don’t like will soon be numbered. I’m moving on to places where you tell no one when your birthday is except for the few friends you make at work, and even those people will simply give you a hug, unless they don’t really like to be touched, in which case I may get a hi-five. I’ll take a hi-five any day.