So anyway. So when I’m driving the gator, I’ll just start screaming right with the pigs. We go, yeah, we come on. And it tends to be although Coco started to as well the other day the pigs will start chasing me in the gator because they just want to play and have fun. So normally it’s Pachanga. He’s our most energetic pig, which, by the way, his name, pachanga, means crazy rave party in Spanish.
So he lives up to that name, hey there and welcome to Rise and Thrive with me, ella Majors. I created this high vibe podcast from a place of profound curiosity, fierce compassion and the deep desire to connect you with the wisdom of inspirational wellness, health, fitness and conscious leaders and change makers. Here’s to discovering our blind spots and embracing life as the adventure. It is the time, the time, the time, the time, the time. The time is now. Let’s do this. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, hey, hey, everyone Ella here, and this is a very special episode for so many reasons. First of all, it is Giving Tuesday and I am on the founding board of Hogs and Kisses Farm Sanctuary. If you follow me on Instagram or on YouTube, you have seen countless posts and videos and pictures of me up there with the animals. It’s one of my favorite places to be and I’m up there many times a year caring for and loving on the precious souls that have found their forever home.
With today’s guest, anne Molina, she is one of my best friends in the world and has been for many, many years, and so to have her on and be able to share her story of how she got started I talk about in this episode, you know, 20 years ago. If somebody had told her she would be running a farm sanctuary at this point in her life, she would have never believed them. So she’s got a fascinating story to tell and we talk about what our next steps are and we have a big announcement to make. And I will bite my song tongue right now and not give it away, because I want you to listen to the end when we make our big announcement. And, yeah, I really really hope you enjoy this episode. Anne’s energy is phenomenal. She brings so much love to the world, to the animals, that she cares for the people in her life and it’s an honor to know her and to be such an intimate part of what she’s built at Hogs and Kisses. So I think the episode speaks for itself.
I’m not going to go too much into it other than to say that lots of links in the show notes. I’ve interviewed her before on the Vegan Life Coach podcast so you can get a really even deeper understanding of her journey if you go back and listen to some of those episodes, and I want to thank you in advance If what you hear today inspires you to be a part of our Hogs and Kisses community to be able to donate to help us fundraise for what we’re building next. I want to thank you in advance for that, because your support goes a long way, and I mean a long way, and we’ve got a great matching situation. So any donations are going to get matched triple triple. So, yeah, all right, without further ado, let’s do this.
Hey, ann, hi, before we dive in, it was last episode that I shared the news about shy, so I just want to take a moment before we even dive in and to thank you for the support and the love. I mean I want to thank everyone listening because the support and love that I have received since this happened has been tremendous. I mean it was interesting because so for you all listening and gifted me a session with an animal communicator, a medium who specializes in grief and communicating with animals who have passed, and you know that was so powerful. And one interesting thing about some of the resources that Teresa had sent was that there was a lot of information helping people through who had people around them who would diminish and belittle the experience because it is an animal Right. So there was a lot of information about what to do when the people around you say, oh, kind of get over it.
It was just a dog and for me to have, I mean, you and so many people in my life and they’re not one person like that was so far. You know from what I’m surrounded by, because we’re in such a compassionate kind of little bubble here with our sanctuary sanctuary people, animal people, people listening to this podcast, who are striving to open their hearts and be more compassionate, whether they’re already vegan or they’re on their way or they’re curious, you know, just people that are wanting to move through the world with an open heart, knowing that that invites in a lot of pain from loss, and that’s kind of the price we pay, and it’s a price that I am willing to pay over and over and over again, and I know you are too. So I just want to thank you and just want to put that out there for all your love and support and forgetting it and being there for me.
Well, of course, yeah, I mean. I remember when you brought her home from the shelter you know kind of things.
So, yeah, and you know, she was so much a part of every facet of your life, Right? I think for many people who maybe care for animals as a companion animal, as a pet, they kind of like live in their house, right, like. So, for instance, me and my cats, right, I sometimes post things about them, but when I go to the grocery store, they’re not with me. You know, you go to yoga, shy was with you. You’re on your scooter, shy is with you. You come up here, shy is with you, right, like she knew everybody on Miami BH right Like and even up here.
I mean you know how many people were caught like messaging me like, oh my God, ella, you know, because they all got to meet her, they got to know the influence that she was, you know, in your life, you know, it still is Right, so, yeah, so I would imagine that people could have seen that and been impressioned by that. So that’s also a reason why I think that they had that kind of compassion. There are probably other people who don’t necessarily have that. Maybe they care for a bird, and it’s just something that you never know, because that bond could be so strong between a human and the animal that, yeah, shaming about that and yes, we hear it all the time oh, it’s just a cat, it’s just a dog.
Yeah, you know, I understand everybody has different beliefs, you know. But if somebody is going through pain then you know, really it’s just so encouraging that so many people rally around you, with you and for you and continue, yeah, to do so. But, yeah, I mean, ella, you are like my sister girl. So there was no way. I mean I was like, oh God, do I go down there? I don’t know. You know, I would have loved to come to Miami, but, as you know, we have lots of animals here that we’re caring for, so I couldn’t just jump on a plane. But yeah, but I wanted to.
Yeah, I know you did. Yeah, she’s famous a little shy she was really.
I’m going to have a memorial and all over your social media with everything, right, yeah, so yeah, memorial.
Good, yeah, we’re going to work on that. And speaking of just, you know, belittle, I mean now we’re talking about companion animals, which so many people can relate to. You know that suffering when we lose them or just when they’re sick or anything happy to do with those. And now we take us and kind of the vegan community and the sanctuary community and extend that to farmed animals. And you know, one of the things that talk about compassion and opening your heart and how painful that can be, and I was thinking about this the other day. I was like here we are asking people to connect with this compassion for farmed animals and there are billions, there are trillions of animals that are suffering and dying each year, and to open our hearts to that is it’s not an easy thing to do, no, and yet Right. So just in opening here, you know how do you kind of explain to people why it’s worth it? Why is it worth it to open our heart to farmed animals, right, knowing that there’s a lot of suffering there. You know why is that worth it.
What are your thoughts on that?
Yeah, so I’ll definitely share my opinion about the worth of this. I would like to also add that a side project that hugs and kisses has done over the past couple of years is called beat around the barn, and it kind of started out of COVID when people were not visiting sanctuary and things like that. But we wanted to do education and outreach so we made these like interview videos. Anyway, there is an episode there about how you deal with animals across over the rainbow bridge and we do talk about that as vegans or plant based folks and people who have strong relationships with animals.
When you’re looking at the billions of animals that are killed for the plate all the time every year, that too, for some of us, we grieve about it, because that’s where kind of the coined angry vegan comes from. Is you’re so thirsty to teach people and have them see what you see, because it hurts so deeply, you know, and you want them to see it right. So it comes across maybe abrasive or aggressive or what have you, but really it’s coming from the fact that we feel pain, that all of these animals are going through needless pain and want to open people’s eyes, right. So, anyway, check out that episode if you all want, or if you’re going through it and just want to hear some amazing perspectives. We had a great panel on that.
Yes, it was, and I’ll put the link to that. I just made it. I’ll put the link to that specific episode in the show notes.
Perfect, yeah. So for me, why is it worth it? You know, for me the purpose of life is love, and I’m not trying to sound too flowery about that, but like I’ve decided that that is the meaning of life for me, and I think that is the case for all humans, whether they arrive at something different themselves. But what else are we doing here, right, you know, kind of thing is where I’m at with it, and so any opportunity to love, even though it will be challenging, you yourself have to learn and change and grow and be responsible about others and helping them to really have like the full gamut of what comes With love. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot Whether it’s humans or whether it’s animals, or on our planet or our home or our things or whatever it is. There’s work, you know, and all I can say is that every moment I mean just being with the animals, I swear to you it fills my fulfillment cup. Every day I could be dog tired, I could be sick, I could be whatever, and I still get so much fulfillment Just by being with them, sometimes laughing with them. They do funny things and it’s amazing it has adds so much to my life. So if I now fast forward, because now we have the 12 animals in our care, plus I have two companion animals who, by the way, I think are like my babies. I always joke that I birthed them right. And if I think about, I know I have an inkling of what I think you may be going through with shy passing. And now I’m going to have that.
14 animals Like I’m like, ooh, like it is scary. It’s a little bit scary, but I think, ultimately, knowing that, a the purpose of life is love and, b what I would want to do with my life. So if I look forward and I’m on my deathbed looking back and I’m looking over my life, kind of going what did I do with my life, I will be damn proud that I provided a great life to animals who are in need Really anyone, right, I mean people in my life. I constantly look from that lens. Would I be proud of the life that I created on my deathbed? If so, I want to go do that. So for me, yes, it is a no brainer, even if the pain comes, even attempting, even trying, giving it all to do what you want, which is create love. Ultimately, then, I think it’s well, well worth it, because I just believe that in the efforts of even doing and trying you get back a hundred fold, even if you know no regrets.
Oh, that’s a beautiful answer, really beautiful answer. Ok, yes. So before we get into it, I want to briefly talk about your journey, because we did really cover that in our interview on the Vegan Life Coach podcast, which I will link to. So I encourage everyone to check that one out. I mean, we met many times, but I think it was our first, your first episode that we really talked about your journey. So we’ll cover that briefly, but first I’ve got the thing that you probably dislike the most, which is a lightning round, but this one, I think, is going to be.
I think you’re going to appreciate this one, ok there’s a few questions I want to just pop in there at the very beginning here as we dive in All right. Number one if you were being interviewed 20 years ago and were asked where you thought you’d be in your mid 40s and what you’d be doing, what would you have said Twenty years ago?
you said yeah, 20 years ago I would have said that I was working with kids, right, Husband? I likely would have answered the whole white picket fence, 2.2 kids, right? The thing that we are fed as a culture to aspire to. I likely would have said that.
And follow question. If you had been told 20 years ago that you would be in Virginia on a plot of land in overalls, in muddy boots picking up pig poop, what would you have said oh, I’d have been like no way, no way, no way, no way, no way, no way. Isn’t life interesting.
OK, it’s still fun.
What has surprised you the most about building and running a sanctuary?
Yeah, yeah. Initially, what surprised me the most was actually how much work it is right, because I think we all joke about it. Like at first we had these like romantic notions about you know, oh, we’re going to save these animals, the animals are going to reach out and like frolic in the field, like it was all of that in our head, you know. And then it was like, no, you’re out there rain, snow, sunshine, sleep and if you’re sick and there’s nobody else they don’t need if you’re not out there, like it is demanding, right, like. So that was probably the most surprising to me, even though in my head I may have thought, oh, it’ll be work, I didn’t know the level at which the dedication is needed.
Now, what surprises me? I think, maybe how much I still learn, like from the animals. I learn a lot just through observation. They’re so cool and interesting If you just kind of tune into each of their personalities. Obviously we observe that just for health and make sure they’re okay, but then there are different things. They can tell you just out of that, really kind of cool things and I’m like, oh, my God, they’re actually communicating with me right now. You know, kind of a lot of those things still surprise me, just because of how cool they are.
Learning their language? Yes, kind of thing too. Yeah, I got it. Okay, what’s the most challenging part for you personally as a human being, running this sanctuary?
This is going to sound kind of horrible, but I don’t know, maybe somebody will relate. So I guess I’d be considered a little bit more of like a mainstream vegan. Right, I’m not your tree hugger, birkenstock kind of vegan, and so what I mean by that is I happen to really like luxury things and I like nice things. I love fashion, I love travel, I love a lot of these things. So in deciding to start the sanctuary, I had thought like, oh, those are not important things, I can put them to the waist diet, I will just focus on the sanctuary.
Well then I started noticing my stress level and the quality of happiness in my life was starting to really take a toll, and the relationships in my life, because having the sanctuary was my dreaming goal not necessarily everybody in my life, you know, in my households dreaming goal, even though they’re supportive.
But so I had to reevaluate and I had to go oh, wow, actually having a fun day of shopping, like it also to, fills my cup. And so I had to really take a hard look at the things that I feel make me happy or that I enjoy, or just take me out of the headspace of sadness or stress or whatever and put me into a happy space and things like doing my nails I mean, oh my God, having all of the mud in my nail Like I thought, oh, it’s unimportant, you know kind of thing but then like coming to grasp with superficial things that are actually important to me. That has been my biggest. Most challenging is, I think ultimately the word is called balance trying to find the balance of doing that, running it and doing really well, doing right by these animals, right educating, but then doing right by me and honoring the things that I like and make me happy and not feeling ashamed about that.
And for those listening. If I need some vegan fashion advice, I have my woman right here to go to. It’s awesome that you know you made that transition so many years ago to a compassionate lifestyle. Now you get to Use that to discover new things. It’s like discovering new foods now to discover new fashion that’s ethical and cruelty free. So it’s great. Yes, all right. What’s the most rewarding part for you personally as a human being in running the sanctuary? The sanctuary.
Yeah, is literally knowing that these animals trust me, that it is for me an absolute honor To have them in my care, or that they give their trust to me, is Something that’s like goals, you know, to me. I value that so, so, so much, and it moves and touches me all the time, so that is by far the thing their trust.
And I think that’s just heightened by the fact of their circumstances right that to trust humans coming from some of their circumstances is Huge For them to just kind of forgive humans as a species, enough to let you into their hearts and Let you be that trusted person in their life.
Yeah, actually, can I say something about that? Of course, yeah, I know.
Yeah, we’ll call it something different.
So, yeah, a couple of things right. Yeah, so I believe it’s the farm sanctuary. Duh has even some people on staff that are studying and reading some papers, I believe, on actually trauma amongst animals who are being rescued and put into these sanctuary settings. Absolutely fascinating, because you know, it occurred to me with our most recent hog rescues, tito and Coco. So their story we rescued them at they were three months old at the time and they were abandoned with a couple of goats and they were literally just in somebody’s like backyard and they kept getting out because they had been abandoned and they were starving. They were looking for food. Psychists, the neighbors and everything were calling the animal control. Animal control came and got them right and all this kind of thing that we were Alerted by other rescue groups that were going and getting animals from other cases going on there. So as soon as we brought Coco and Tito, if you remember, coco was scheduled for a spay and I started to notice that when Coco would go outside they were here in our quarantine area and she would go outside and he didn’t know where she was. I mean the panic on his face and all she was was just outside and he went running out there and I was like whoa. It hit me because we had now the other five animals, so I had been observing their behaviors and how they interact with each other and all those kinds of things. I had never seen that kind of desperation and panic on any of the other hogs before, and so now fast forward. So in February, right, we took them and merged them with the herd. They’re all bonded together. So now it’s coming up on their one-year Rescuversary right in December, because we rescued them right before Christmas.
He is so much more confident now, right, like he’s out in the field. They’re much further apart now. He still is with her a lot, but a couple of times because we have multiple areas where they can sleep in their beds. A couple of times he went and chose to sleep somewhere a little bit separate. I mean, obviously they’re all kind of in the same ish area the barns but somewhere separate, in a whole other bed than her, you know, which is like groundbreaking for him because he always had her in his sight always and he trusts enough.
You know that now it’s a safe place and he’ll be fine and everything is good and we have volunteers who come in and there are sometimes, where I take off, right, you come and watch the sanctuary and we’re in. So now they trust the routine so much that it doesn’t matter which human right, as long as they’re trained, right, yeah, taking care of everything and doing things. They’re also amenable, right, they come up, they want to sniff you, they’re curious about you, like they don’t mind the interaction so much, you know. So it’s big when you think about what this animal went through, which was seeing Kido and Coco, saw their family and their friends, everybody taking away to be eaten, then they were left and then transported and then now here, you know. So it is, it’s remarkable to have their trust. And again, yeah, I just know you and I.
Yes, yes, oh, you don’t, coco, I want to be hugging them right now. All right, last one. What’s the latest thing that’s happened at the sanctuary that made you laugh out loud?
Oh, goodness Racious, that made me laugh out. Well, so just the other day, we have water stations throughout the pasture, as you know, and we have one water spigot at the moment at some point, hopefully, we’ll put in more so we drive around a utility vehicle called a gator I. It’s kind of for those of you who are not familiar, it’s not a tractor, but it’s like a smaller kind of thing. It has a couple seats and like a little back bed, right. Anyway, we use this to transport water buckets so we can clean and fill out the water bowls in the pasture. So, anyway, sometimes when I’m driving the gator, I’ll just start screaming, right with the pigs yeah, we come on.
And it tends to be although Coco started too as well the other day that the pigs will start chasing me in the gator because they just want to play and have fun. So normally it’s Pachanga. He’s our most energetic pig, which, by the way, his name, pachanga means crazy rave party in Spanish, so he lives up to that name. Anyway, he just starts galloping, you know, and the way he’s galloping is like kind of side to side, you know, his ears are like flapping and then he’s like oh, almost like he’s laughing too, you know, and it makes me laugh every time.
He’s so funny and big personality like that, so I would say I mean, that was just like a couple of days ago. Yeah, that was one of the times I literally bust out laughing. It’s just so funny.
So funny, they are so funny. Is Fern still throwing his bowl?
Oh, no, but it’s like every once in a while. Today I saw him like he kind of grabbed it with his snout or whatever and then spun it, but the door, the chute door, was kind of there, so it didn’t go flinging out, but he like spun it and then he started kind of lick around some more. So I am starting to wonder if he’s doing a spin motion to get all the lip crumbs and morsels. Yeah, maybe like something like manipulating the bowl. He’s so funny.
So funny, all right, great, I love these stories. They’re so great, all right. So let’s just take just a few minutes, just a recap, like okay, we just talked about how this is never where you expect it to be in your life right now. You were in Miami.
We’ve known each other for God, I don’t know exactly how many years, but I think it’s going on about 20 years.
Yeah, so if you could just briefly I know it’s crazy to be brief about this long of a period of time but kind of just the journey that got you to be here now, you know, from connecting with animals to making this trip.
Sure, sure. Well, I certainly grew up with companion animals in my house. My mom was a very big dog lover and we had cats as well. So companion animals right, we had them in the house and loved them. I went after college, was very independent, did not have any companion animals like whatsoever, and then I ended up in Miami and I thought I was there to stay. All right, I love Miami, anyway.
Then you know, I met you and through some friends, and around the same time maybe, like a few years prior, I had started kind of losing the taste for meat is the best way I can describe it is like, you know, I’d have my chicken and I would start to see the veins and the arteries, like hanging out. You know, like, like. In other words, I really started getting present to what it was like that was there on my plate and I was like, oh, like, that was how I was eating at that point, was like, let me cut the vein out and then I’ll just eat this part and that’ll be fine and you know, whatever, right, and so then I ended up having a shredded plate and I didn’t really eat, you know. And so it’s like God, there’s all these world vegetarians out there. What are they, you know? And so I started to make that transition and I was at first more like a lacto ovo kind of thing. I was still doing some cheese and things like that. And then there was like a good year. So I was vegetarian about six years and about a good year in there I was eating fish, so about pescatarian ish, something like that.
And then I had met you and I know we had some interests and you and I were exercising together and like doing all this stuff. And as I started getting more curious about it, I remember I had asked you like, hey, can you sit down with me and kind of scope out Like what do you eat in a day or what do you recommend? And considering, I’m exercising more, and you know, and so that was a lot of. It was like you know, and blah, blah, blah, and you started to educate me and we had some other friends too who were, you know, vegans around, and so I was like, oh, wow, and so I then said to myself, well, okay, you know, let’s give this a try. I’m kind of already there, you know.
And then I did, and I was also at that time, I think, incorporating more raw foods as well. I was even dabbling around with like kind of like raw food uncooking, as you know too, and all this kind of thing. So I was just getting a little more into it when prior to that, I had no interest in any of that kind of stuff and I just started feeling so good that I was like, oh okay, I can make this transition. This is good, and that was probably I think it’s coming up on 13 years ago that I made that decision, never looked back, couldn’t have cared less to reverse it at all. But getting there, like I said, I was vegetarian for about six years, so that part did not happen overnight Anyhow. So, trucking along right, most of that beginning part was more plant based. However, of course, I would learn about what was in my dish soaps and my shampoos and my face creams and the you know, my makeup and all that. So then, slowly, over the I would say probably next four to five years, I started to really transition out all my products and just all those things. And then finally I had to go oh, my God, my favorite leather jacket or, you know whatever, my favorite leather stilettos and you know all these things that I had that, I was like it’s so not even worth it, like I don’t even want to sport it because I know what it is, you know, even if the art of it, right, was nice, I didn’t care, you know. So I put all of those things, yeah, aside and finally kind of like cleansed, you know everything.
So at that point life transitionings were happening for me. My husband had a promotion. We moved to a different state out of Florida. I cried buckets and tears about it, but I knew that you know what we were building, a certain kind of a life, so fine. Anyway, at that point it was coming very close to COVID and my husband’s career supported him to be able to live where he wanted. And my stepson already lived here in Virginia and so we were like, oh, let’s go be with the big guy he’s getting of age, where you know. My husband was really like I want to be there every day and I was like, absolutely, let’s do this. And it just happens to be Virginia has lots of lovely land here, right, and all these things.
So we started putting two and two together and I said, oh man, you know that someday, one day, dream, as a vegan, about saving farm animals. I said, well, geez gosh, maybe we can really make this a reality. And prior to that, in Miami, I had rescued two cats who come you know Santiago and Sophia, who I call my babies, and you know the profound love that I have for them. I was like, man, what would that be like to have with a pig, a cow, you know, a horse, a chicken, you know, whatever that we normally don’t think about having that kind of relationship with? So that would be really cool. You know, what would that be like? What could we create that to be? So then I was like, all right, I think I’m going to do this.
And he and I talked about it and said, well, how can I raise money? And I said, well, what if we build our house and we put a BNB and we have the BNB help pay for things? And you know, we just started brainstorming, right, it was like a long period of brainstorming and then, when it became more real, I had to think about putting together a board. I was like, well, I know, on a first phone call, I’m going to make you know. And so I did. I said, okay, let me ask Hello.
And now we were like, yes oh, my God, yeah, I will never forget the moment I was on my balcony when you called and you told me what you were planning and asked me, and I was like, are you kidding me? Like, oh, full circle moment. And what a dream for me. I mean, that’s something I’ve been working my whole life, you know, saving animals, and for me to be able to have the opportunity to have intimate relationships with some individuals was like oh, a dream come true.
Yeah, yeah, like it’s really cool, you know, we just never know what seeds that we plant that can grow from there and yeah, right, so anyway, so that kind of like, and that was like finding land and then, mind you, you know I never grew up with farm animals and like it was a lot of learning. You know this. We had to figure out, like I had to read materials, but then so many materials are in the vegan world, sanctuary world, to call them non compassionate resources, meaning. So farming or factory farming, right, anything where the animal is being used as a product or exploited. Obviously there’s lots of research about fattening up an animal or how you can make the most money off of a certain kind of animal, all of these things. So there’s plenty of resources on that, but very few about actually creating a healthy, long life for the animal and what kind of environment, what’s natural to them, because they had been so domesticated for farm settings that you know what are the ancestors, what was natural in their species. So now there’s all that learning to do and, mind you, I just gave up my stilettos, you know. They’re saying like, oh, good Lord, like you know. So, yeah, and it became mud boots very, very quickly, and we made a few decisions that were a little overzealous, without thinking them through. But you know, I would say that I think overall we’ve been pretty planful about what we do. I’m not overpanicking. We try to make sure we put it to the board, all of our decisions, of things right, and we hired a consultant as well. Big shout out, by the way. Anybody who wants to start a sanctuary, healthy herd, consulting with Jill. She’s fantastic. So it was just helpful to be able to learn about these things, things that other people again in a farm setting might go. You don’t need to do that. You could just throw a couple of pallets together to create them a barn, and that’s something you need you know. And it’s like what? And now, when I think about the full education, making a decision based upon having all the information about what truly is good for animals, I’m so happy with the choices right that we’ve made with our hogs and our rabbits. So, anyhow, that’s now full circle.
Coming to where we are, we are in our third year as a sanctuary, so we’re about to head into our fourth year. We are what’s considered a micro sanctuary and likely will stay like that. There are a lot of benefits, pros and cons. Right, obviously, large sanctuaries gets to save many, many lives. But with a micro sanctuary, as you had mentioned, ella, you get such a personal relationship with the animals, so much so that they become like your companion animals. Right, obviously, they live outside, but you know Anyway. So yeah, right now we’re rocking and rolling and I would like to announce that we just, as a board, decided so. We had, you know, seven hogs and five rabbits in our care, but we’ve just decided to expand, we are ready to grow and we are going to move on to a third species. So, drumroll, we just announced that we will be rescuing Turkey.
Yes, so excited about this announcement. I know you just put it out on social media today. We’ve been talking about it, so what I’d like to do because I know people can go back to the other podcast and hear the stories of the other animals what I’d love to do for the rest of our time here today is really talk about what’s next and what goes into that decision, what went into that decision for deciding on turkeys, and what needs to happen now and what we’ll be fundraising for, and what the next few months will look like in preparation for saving these lives and welcoming them onto the hogs and kisses land for the rest of their lives.
So first do you want to talk a little bit about? You know, knowing we were ready to bring another species in or get more animals we weren’t sure yet if it was going to be another species. You want to talk a little bit about what went into that decision.
Sure, yeah. So, as I mentioned, our last rescues were almost one year ago, right. So maybe I don’t know if some people have the impression that rescues are constantly rescuing animals and there might be Some do what’s called like a rescue and they temporary foster and then they adopt out. There’s plenty of them that do that. We are just 100% sanctuary, so we are the forever home that somebody would try to find for an animal, so we don’t the other kinds of rescue work. So we had to, you know, give it a little bit of time because, after bringing on Tito and Coco, it was a lot of load and, as I mentioned to you, I had to do a lot of thinking about, realistic thinking about what my time and my energy and my health and all of these things in terms of running a sanctuary would be. So we kind of said let’s let the piggies settle in. We’re going to bond them, let the be, let’s let them be, you know, and really just cultivate them to have their time together. It was very important. Plus, it now had us move up to now, feeding times and care for the animals Was all seven hogs at one time. Rabbits could be done at a separate time. But having enough volunteers volunteers come to help was also going to be an issue. We were not able to do all seven hogs with just one person, so we had to have at least two. So having the staffing and the support to be able to run the sanctuary as well, we had to get a lot of those systems going and into a place that we felt really, really good about. So that was like now, right, months and months and months.
And finally, over the summer, I know that you and I and James were kind of like, ok, we should be toying around now with what do we think is next for us. So we kind of threw it out, had a few discussions right, let it marinate a little bit, and then got back together and said, ok, well, what are we thinking? And I know that all of us had certain ideas about certain species that we really like and wanted. I know I for sure had hoped to rescue some cattle, some cow. The thing about it is that you have to take into consideration their lifespan, along with things like is there proper veterinary care? Where’s the closest that hospital If something goes wrong? Do we have all the proper equipment for everything that they need Proper barns, proper right, everything. And we have land that we build everything from the ground up so we don’t have existing fencing or barns or anything that. Everything, the electricity, this big, it’s what all have to be new. So the actual funding for cattle was going to be extremely large.
And then I know also, you and James talked a lot about wanting turkey. I know James is huge on the turkey as well and I’ve had a couple of interactions with some very loving turkeys. But we wanted to explore all species. So we had a conversation to kind of brainstorm again with our consultant Jill around what are some pros and cons for all of them. So, with the cattle being maybe a little longer lifespan than we wanted, and also to the amount of financials, we kind of said maybe not that direction.
So then we were like, well, what about goats? What about sheep? Well, what about chicken? Turkey, right. Well, what if we did more pigs? What if we did more rabbits? We even talked about just staying with two species but maybe increasing.
So all kinds of things got considered with sheep and with goats it was well, what about sicknesses and diseases?
And what about our current land with our predators here?
That is a big thing for us here Space, we have land, we have the infrastructure we don’t to keep them safe or have their own area where that’s theirs, but then also to respecting the wildlife that’s here, but yet keeping then the animals in our direct care 100% safe.
So all of these things here I came into into play and ultimately we decided that we thought that then maybe turkey, I think, could be a good fit. They’re more like an eight to 10 year lifespan, more like the bunnies, the rabbits, and, quite frankly, when running a micro sanctuary, you really just don’t know. Myself, with my life as well and our sanctuary being here on the land, we don’t know how long we’re going to be here on this land, and so I had to really think about that too. If you have old animals and you would need to move them or take them to another sanctuary, is it fair to them? There’s just so many considerations to think about, so we just had to think of something that was a little bit more within our purview of fitting our life but then being fair to the animals to fit our life and so forth. So ultimately we then said, ok, you know what, let’s go for turkey.
I’m thrilled with our decision. I too was really hoping to welcome some cow, some cattle, and yeah, it didn’t make sense for us, right? So turkeys do, and yeah, turkeys. I’ve had many a turkey hug in my day.
And we don’t know, you know, some turkeys are up for hugs, others aren’t. So we don’t know what kind of personalities we will end up with. So we’re not. You know, it’s not. Our love is not going to depend on if they are willing to give turkey hugs or not, though in my heart of hearts I’m hoping there’s some turkey hugs in our future. They were just, oh my gosh, I just yeah. We’ll never forget my first tug, turkey hug and ragdwar. And he just came over and he just climbed right in my lap and wrapped his beautiful little neck and head around mine and and it really was like being embraced- yeah.
Yeah, so special.
Yeah, so special it is.
Yeah, I’m really excited to learn about now, right Another yeah, everything they need and you know, and, yeah, and their personalities as well, cause that is something I think ultimately has been my biggest learning about animals in the sanctuary setting is you know, you learn a baseline. You know, you learn, kind of like what their habitat should be, how to enrich it, what they eat, what kind of vet care they need, what’s the maintenance, like you know, you learn the baseline, but then after that it’s 100% the individual you are catering. Every decision we’ve made about those hogs is around their patterns and what you know, like they are, yeah, their behaviors and their personalities, and the rabbits too. You know who gets along, who doesn’t live together, who doesn’t. I mean everything. So with Turkey it will be the same We’ll have a baseline and then we will cater to the individuals in our care.
And what great I mean timing just happened to be that this is the time we’re deciding and it is Thanksgiving. That is just when this comes out. It’ll be. Yeah, this is giving Tuesday right here, right now today.
Awesome, great timing. And, yeah, let’s talk about some of what’s next what needs to happen, what the funding if you’re open to donating, we would be so honored to have you donate. I want to talk about what that’s going to go to that, what the money is going to go to. Also, I want to talk about the plaques. Oh yeah, yeah, because I just put up a plaque. We have plaques that actually I’ll let you tell them, but we just put up my plaque for Bob, for my cat who passed last year, and we will be doing one for shy coming up as well. But, yeah, let me let you tell about those.
Okay, sure, so do you want me to do the what’s next? Do you want me to talk about the plaques? Let’s do the what’s next and then the plaques.
Yeah, sure, okay, yes. So, as you mentioned, so today, as the podcasters released is giving Tuesday, and so, because of our decision about expanding to Turkey, we are having 100% focus on, you know, all kinds of contributions and everything going towards the Turkey. So what that means is that, literally, you would be able to help us build the actual Turkey environment, which ultimately will be. They’ll have their own Turkey coop with a little porch and then also to a pretty large aviary. So we are going to build all of that, and so we have two amazing donors that step forward to match our goal. So that now means that by reaching our goal, that money would be doubled. So if per se, you wanted to gift $5 immediately, know your $5 is $15. There were a hundred would be $300. So our goal this year is 3000, knowing that we have the two donors who step forward. So that means 9000 can be raised going towards the Turkey enclosure and their coop and aviary, which is huge, yeah, which is absolutely huge, yeah.
Really big for us. Oh, yes, I know right. So three times, three times your donation, three times, yeah, that is correct.
Yeah, it’s a real, real blessing. It’s amazing and I think that a lot of times people say, because I try to have a full transparency, you know Ella’s usually like we’re videoing things and showing us. I want people to see what goes into this, you know, and sometimes I like to hear their opinions and you know whatever right and just include them in on stuff. So we will be making sure that we inform everybody about every step of the way design, building, what our intentions are, what everything means right, why this particular woven wire over that kind of netting and you know all that stuff that we’ll put forward. So it’s just a great opportunity to be involved in a way that you can feel like, oh my gosh, I helped them build that, helped them create a home for animals who normally don’t get to have that right. Turkeys, who are really their sole existence, is to be sent to a plate for one day. Right is most turkeys. So now you’ll be able to give them a home and a good life.
So yeah, very exciting. Thank you in advance. Everyone, that’s who?
So, having said that, that is where we’re headed and our timeline then is that. So we are right now in the design phase, because when you’re designing something like this, it’s not just like you can be like let’s throw a coop and some netting around it and just put that up and it’s done right. Not really. So you have to think about what type of materials, who’s going to build it, how, where the door is, where the window is going to be, is it going to have electricity, is it going to have water? If so, how, and who will do that. And placement where you place it. Is there drainage? Is there potential for flooding in that area? Once they walk around there, is it enough? Do they have to have rock, do they not? I mean, it’s incredible. It’s like designing a home. You know what I mean. Like for humans, I mean, but now for turkey, right? Yeah? So all of that design stuff will come place, and also to where on the land. Placement right as well. Then we will find a place that will either help build, or can we do materials and have people come help us build it, right? There’s that. Or would it be a mixture? In the past, with the pigs barns, we actually had contractors come in and help us to build it because of how strong we really needed things to be, in this case with the turkey. Yes, strength is important and what’s really important is predator proofing from the big guys. So your coyotes, your fox that will come and try and get the turkey, but also to thinking about rodent control as well. That is huge. So, like all of these considerations, and then finding people to build, getting the materials, building it and considering we’re just now coming into winter season, so I think ultimately all of these pieces will come into place.
Building will likely happen come March after, say, we’re clear of any potential snow here in Virginia. And then our hope is to select or find or be connected to some needy turkey we really don’t know who and maybe transport them here at the beginning of April is our hopeful timeline. Yeah, you know, and, Ella, hopefully you’ll join me on that transport to bring them here. I would not miss it, yeah, and then we can welcome our turkey friends. Oh, and I think that we’re likely going to start with maybe a trio, so that way everybody has friends and is bonded and such together. We don’t have any existing turkey, so we don’t need quarantine space right, their home would be theirs to start off with, and such like that. So that’s going to be the progression over the next few months Wonderful wonderful, and then talk about the plaques for a moment.
Yes. So, being that we’re going through the holidays, some great, great ways to honor your loved ones or just to give even animal lovers in your life is a way that you can put your heartfelt message onto a plaque and have it live here forever at our sanctuary. So what we do is we have these plaques that you can put on the fence, and we do also have different sizes If you were to go with one of the larger ones. We have a very dear friend, ella and I, who, in honor of his mother who passed, he did a beautiful passage from Charlotte’s web and we have it ready to go onto the pig barn. So the one that we’ll do for shy with Ella will definitely as well have nice and put that onto the pig barn as well.
So there are some options of ways that you can just be a part of the sanctuary with us, but also to potentially honor loved ones. Or even if you just wanted to say something like, we have ones out there. My aunt had gifted one and my grandmother had passed X amount of years ago, and so she literally just wanted to have it be love, right. And another visitor who came, just one that just said love and happiness forever, right? You know, they were just moved by what we’re doing and wanted that message to live here. So, whatever moves you, touches you. If you want to honor past ones, you could do that too. For sure, I have one for Santiago and Sophia hanging also, because everything I do right is my love for them.
So, yeah, it’s just an opportunity. You can head over to hogsandkissesorg and literally say plaques for piggies up there. You can scroll and you pick whichever one that you want. You’ll see it there, put your message in and then it’ll be a few weeks to make it and then, once it comes, if you’re local, you can come and hang it. We’ll literally pull out the drill. You can drill it in yourself. If not, then we’re happy to zoom with you when we go to put it up. We’re happy to do that as well, so that you can at least be a part of the experience too.
And if you’re not local and want to go visit, there is the BNB. Yes, there is.
We’re on Airbnb, so please do look that up. And yeah, so far we’ve had such amazing guests and I will just say this little anecdote of all the guests that have come, I think only one had a daughter who was vegan. Everybody else has not, but they’ve been coming because here in Central Virginia we actually have a lot of nice wineries, plus also we have a university. So it just brought in parents and or people locally in Virginia who were coming for a kind of like a staycation. Anyhow, when they’re here, they come to meet the animals and they’re just like wow, they’re just so moved, they learn a lot about the animals, and so much so that we even had one couple who came that she messaged me after and she was like, oh my God, like I will eat pork ever again after giving belly rubs and seeing them interact and all of that. So it’s a wonderful experience. If you can be here, believe me, I’d be so happy to host you.
So please look us up, yes, and make sure you’re following Hogs and Kisses on Instagram. It’s at Hogs Kisses, and Anne just does such a wonderful job you do so so well, anne of just helping people feel like they’re a part of the sanctuary that they’re part of. You know understanding the behind the scenes and the decision making and the animals and the funny things they’re doing and how you’re celebrating their lives every day and how you’re taking care of them and you know all the volunteers that are a part of it and just making everybody feel so included and so a part of a community. So I want to give you a shout out for that and make sure everyone follows on Instagram at Hogs Kisses. We’ll put all those links in the show notes, anne. Is there any last words? You want to say yeah?
actually real quick. One thing is that we were talking about coming to stay. Yeah, I might be toying around with the idea. If there is anyone who is, you know, interested in sanctuary work or just animals or whatever, or you’re traveling around or something during the winter months here the BNB is quite available and so if somebody wanted to do a come and stay work trade situation, we would be very happy for that. You could stay for a few weeks, we could train you on how to do things and you’d have a warm, comfy bed and beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains to come and stay. So, yeah, we are flirting around with that idea about kind of like a work trade for staying in our BNB.
All right, well, can we put the email, your email in the show notes? So reach out directly to Anne if that’s something that you’re interested in exploring. That’s great. Oh, I can’t wait to continue to share everything that we’re doing at Hogs and Kisses and this exciting adventure of building this home and welcoming these turkeys in the spring, and thank you so much for everything that you do, from the bottom of my heart and so many animals out there. Thank you.
Of course, and you know I love you so much, thank you, and how much you have supported as not only just a friend but then, you know, a warrior for animals, and also to then being a board member right For Hogs and Kisses. Really, you have gone above and beyond and I love you for it. You are my passion partner in life, really, thank you, thank you.
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Rise and Thrive with me, ella Majors. I truly hope you found it inspiring and, if you did, please help me spread the word by leaving a rating and review on your favorite podcast player and by sharing the show with your friends. As you probably know by now, my life’s purpose is to use my voice to make this world a more conscious and compassionate place, and your reviews and shares make a huge impact. And last, I’m getting a ton of insanely positive feedback about my short and sweet monthly newsletter called the Way Short for the Way Out Is Through.
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