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.
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.
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 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:
She eventually got to kiss his sweet face, but only because he was being fed.
Meet Penelope Permission Pigsworth (Penny):
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
We tried some new products this weekend:
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.
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.”