9 March 2015

Sheepherding, Butt-Sniffing



Red seems to pride himself on his focus and professionalism, he doesn't lose focus even when getting his butt sniffed by Fanny, who either wants to herd the sheep or distract Red from it. No chance.

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Rush Hour: One Lane

One Lane

One Lane

Liam was  hot stuff as a lamb, and now he is hot stuff as a ram. With traffic restricted by the snow to one lane, these two testosterone-stuffed males often meet. Liam has never made it past that spot, the donkeys stay out of it. I think they have no use for dogs or rams.

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Posted: Spring

Posted: Spring

Posted: Spring

In the fall, Maria saw an old no-hunting post sign, it had been abandoned, obviously years ago, it was one of the old ones, before the bright yellow plastic. She painted some green leaves on it – they were the shadows of the leaves growing in front of it, and then it was buried in the snow since early January. Today it popped out. Spring must be here. It was in the 40's today, the snow is melting the pasture is a giant puddle. Much more to come.

I love Maria's posted sign, it looks quite at home with it's new face.

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Sonny is a pony, less than a year old, he was rescued by Blue-Star Equiculture at the beginning of the winter, I am sorry to say that the details of his treatment and condition are too graphic and disturbing for me to describe to you. Soon after he arrived, he fell on ice and was injured. The horse vets said he would be fine, but he needed to be confined for six months in his stall until his injuries fully healed.

Sonny seems happy in his stall, there is a steady stream of staff,  visitors and volunteers brushing him and giving him treats, he tried to put his nose in my camera bag, he has a good view of the valley beyond the farmhouse. He tried to nip Maria in the butt, he wanted to eat her dress. He looks unbelievably better than when we last saw him, he had just come to the farm, he was a skeleton.

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Blue-Star: The New Way, The New Beginning. For Animals, For People

The New Beginning

The New Beginning

I believe I have seen the future, the new way, a new beginning, for animals, for people.

It is called Blue-Star Equiculture.

For those of us who wish to keep animals in our world, and treat the people who live with them and love them with dignity and compassion, Blue-Star is a focal point of our new movement, maybe even it's birthplace. I believe history is being made there. I have seen it for myself.

Last year, Eva Hughes, a brilliant and fierce warrior for the carriage horses, told me the horses were part of a new social movement, a new beginning, a new paradigm. We are not only losing animals from our world, we are losing any true understanding of what they feel and need. It is not possible to love animals and use them to hate people. The true rights of animals do not lie in their banishment from human beings, but in re-connecting them with us.

For the past decade, I have been working on a book – and the idea – of a new and wiser understanding of animals than the angry and polarized  reality they face now. I believe I am seeing it emerge.

To Native-Americans, the blue star signals a new beginning. I see this every time I go to Blue-Star, a small farm on the edge of the Berkshires. It was founded by two carriage horse drivers – Christina Hansen and Pamela Rickenbach Moshimer – but it has evolved into something much larger than that, a new way to understand animals. A new way to keep them among us. A new way to take responsibility for helping to heal the world and bring us back to the idea of treating our fellow human beings with compassion.

Animals everywhere are being driven from the world by our failures, our greed and cowardice.  The people who own and live with them are under siege. Our only idea seems to be seeing them as piteous and abused creatures that must be taken from life and out of the world and the realm of human beings. We seem to have no ideas for making their lives better or keeping them among us.

Blue-Star has offered us a new and wiser understanding of them and their urgent need for help:


They seek to end the real abuse mistreatment of animals – the failure to know them and understand what they are and what they need.

Blue-Star Equiculture is perhaps the most authentic animal rights organization in the country.  The only one I know of  with a true and relevant vision for saving animals in our time and giving them genuine rights. They seek to bring more animals into our lives, not less, to treat them lovingly,  and to keep them among us. They help the animals who are truly in need.

They connect animals to Mother Earth. They live and work in an environmentally sensitive way, taking personal and individual responsibility for healing the earth rather than looking for people to attack, abuse and misrepresent.

They support animals but they also support the people who live and work with them. They seek ways to promote the loving of animals in the world, rather than judge  and abuse people.

They live a transparent life, their lives and their farm and their animals are open to the world, people who love animals are always welcome to see them and learn from them.

They seek out the young – the future of animals – especially students and offer internships, they work to educate them in the ways of animals, to introduce them to real animals in the real world, even as most domesticated animals are being driven from our sight and consciousness. For many of their students, the horses at Blue Star are the first domesticated animals they have ever seen.

When they leave, they will understand the real lives of real animals.

Blue Star exists to make certain they are not the last animals they see.

They recognize that all animals and all people are one – the ponies, the dogs and the cats, the elephants and the carriage horses. They brothers and sisters to us and to one another, we must all be treated with dignity and respect, not banned, dehumanized and assaulted.

– They seek to improve the lives and conditions of working animals, not simply ban them.

At Blue Star, Pamela Rickenbach and Paul Moshimer are connecting the dots that need to be connected.  They have saved the lives of more truly abused horses than all of the fat and angry animal rights organizations in New York City put together.

We are all one, we are in it together. The Native-Americans believe that the horses hold the future of the world in their spirit, we have taken away their homes and ability to live naturally and removed them from their work and rituals. Because of us, there are no best or perfect options left for them. Only the ones caring human beings can offer. For the horses, their last stand is in Central Park in New York City. As the horses fare, so goes the world. We need to heal ourselves and our planet. There is no more urgent priority for us, for the animals, for the children we will leave behind.

For the elephants, as much as many hate to face it, there are the same hard choices. Work and live among us, or vanish from the earth. Without the circuses, they will disappear, as have half of the species in the world since 1970, according to the World Wildlife Federation.

"Each of us," says Chief Avrol Looking Horse, the spiritual leader of the Sioux Nation, "is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind."  He challenges us to accept responsibility for what we have done, rather than seek out other people to blame and bludgeon.

Rather than sit by my computer and hurl accusations and judgments out at the world at people I cannot see and do not know, I am heeding the call to take responsibility for what I do. This is the message and challenge of the blue star.  What I eat, what chemicals I use, how I treat animals and the world around me, what I conserve, how I treat other people. My mission is to spread the world that we must act together to keep the few surviving animals in the world among us.

That is their most basic right.

We are the ones who destroyed the elephant's homes and left them with  nowhere to go but the circus. We are the ones who threaten to take away the horse's final home.  We aren't banning the trucks and buses and condos in New York. only the most natural and beautiful things in the park. That is not the fault of the carriage drivers and the circus operators. We have no one to blame but ourselves for their plight. If there are fingers to be pointed, point them at ourselves.

Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind, says Chief Avrol. In a world driven by finger-pointing and accusation, it is a powerful challenge. I accept it for myself and my animals, I am no judge and no jury.

This is, to me, the wiser and more mystical understanding of animals that the naturalist and author Henry Beston called for a century ago, but which has never come to pass. Tragically for animals, and for the people who love them, the animal rights movement, corrupted by money and rage, has profoundly failed in its duty to speak for the animals, understand them or to protect their most essential rights: to survive in our world.

I believe the horses have triggered a new awakening, a new way of looking at animals, a more humane and just social movement. I believe Blue-Star is it's home, it's spiritual center, it's lodestone, a material sign of the new order coming to life and into being. I am happy to support it and share it's powerful message.

I have seen the future of animals in our world, it is at Blue-Star Equiculture.

You can go and see it for yourself.

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