The barnyard's gone virtual.
Goats, sheep, pigs, turkeys, cows, llama and other rescued farm animals at the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in High Falls, New York are getting their fifteen minutes of fame as the stars of live, weekly storytimes and "Goodnight in Sanctuary" sessions.
Each week, the sanctuary goes live for 30 minutes with one of its staff, who reads an "animal positive" children's book to its furry or feathered residents, like The Lorax by Dr. Seuss and Three Billy Goats Gruff.
The reading is entertaining for children but also weirdly calming for adults.
Here's Fawn, a cow with prosthetics, being read to.
"It's adorable to see a turkey getting sleepy while being read to," Lizz DeFeo, the spokeswoman for Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, told us. "We want you to feel good, to have a smile on your face, get to know our residents and interact with other human beings."
The sanctuary also hangs out with its rescues, of which there are nearly 400, in the evening during its live "Goodnight in Sanctuary" sessions. This week, they counted sheep and wished Beatrice the turkey a happy birthday. She's 10—which is extremely old for a turkey!
With everything shut down, the sanctuary has been severely affected. Without volunteers, weekend tours and visitors to its Gray Barn inn, it's taken a financial hit—losing about $13,000 in revenue in April and an expected $15,000 this month, DeFeo said.
The sanctuary has been taking in farmed animals from situations of neglect and cruelty since 2004. With so many animals, you can guess how much scooping, feeding and medical help is required.
"We rallied to figure out how to keep operations moving smoothly, and we really wanted to make sure we were still connecting people to farmed animals by learning about their stories, which is important to us, which is what the weekend tours offer," she said. "By learning their stories they might make a lifestyle change in support of them."
Another way the sanctuary has rallied itself is another unorthodox way—Goat-2-Meeting, a program by Sweet Farm in California, that pairs up farm animals with folks over virtual meeting apps.
For $100, you can invite goats, llamas, piglets, turkeys, cows, roosters and a variety of other animals to a corporate Zoom meetings or friendly happy hours for 10 minutes, among other options.
Woodstock Farm Sanctuary is working with Sweet Farm to fill requested cameos—Dolly the llama is the most popular resident to make Zoom appearances. She once accompanied a couple on their first (virtual) date, DeFeo said.
"To put some smiles on people's faces has been wonderful," she said. "And we're tapping into an audience that would've probably never known who we are. It's joy in a dark, intense time. A way to smile and break up your new normal routine with work and Zoom calls while also supporting the sanctuary."
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