Episode 10 – Woodstock Farm Sanctuary – Rachel McCrystal, Executive Director

Beller Podcast Network
Episode 10 - Woodstock Farm Sanctuary - Rachel McCrystal, Executive Director

In this episode Rachel McCrystal and I sit down in the grass pasture with the turkeys at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. Rachel introduces the beautiful turkeys and tells us that Beatrice is nine years old, which is very uncommon for turkeys to live this long. Beatrice is severely de-beaked and had to be fed by a syringe when she first came here. Rachel tells the story of how Beatrice came to the sanctuary. In addition to de-beaking, Rachel explains that turkeys are also de-toed which is done without anesthesia and is legal in the industry, as there are no guidelines and rules to protect birds (fowl). We discuss Loren and her issues with bumble foot, her beautiful wrapping (fancy shoes) done by caregiver, Brooke Burbee, and how they came up with a special plan just for her to address her foot issues. We discuss the care that is given to the turkeys due to all of the issues that come up from being born into and exploited in animal agriculture. They are units of production in the industry, and they endure so much cruelty and trauma as babies -all to be used as food for a quick meal. All of the turkeys at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary were meant to be used for food at Thanksgiving or another holiday.

Rachel talks about how turkeys love spending time with people and how their caruncles change colors depending on the mood that they are in. Turkeys are very territorial and have to be separated into the groups that DO get along! They have so many human like qualities. People that visit the sanctuary expect to connect more with a goat or a sheep or pig, but so often visitors connect most with the turkeys once they see how affectionate and loving they are.

We discuss the amount of turkeys killed all year (which is about 100 million turkeys) and how that number goes up during the holiday months to about 45 million JUST during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Turkeys killed for meat are just babies “poults” when they are killed.

One of the awesome and most anticipated events at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary is ThanksLIVING!! This year it will be on November 9th. Rachel talks about this event and how to get tickets or to volunteer. Held on site at the sanctuary, this is a celebration of life and honoring of the turkeys at the sanctuary, and a way to pay honor and respect to those who are not yet, or will never be liberated. Beatrice is the covergirl for this event! The turkeys eat their pumpkin pie and treats before the humans are served! (I love this)… They will also recognize advocates and activists who are making a difference for the animals. This year’s honorees include musician-filmmaker Rob Zombie and actress Sheri Moon Zombie, – animal rights advocates and activists who use their careers as a platform, and Lauren Ornelas, the founder and executive director of the Food Empowerment Project.

photo courtesy of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

This year, the food is being prepared by Lagusta Yearwood of Lagusta’s Commissary in New Paltz, New York and desserts are by Maresa Volante of Sweet Maresa’s. It’s going to be amazing! Tickets are going fast, so get your tickets soon! You don’t want to miss out on this exciting event! Lucky for us, Lagusta has just written a new cookbook SWEET + SALTY and it is fabulous! Lagusta’s cookbook has been featured in the holiday issue of Veg News magazine as one of their top picks for today’s latest and greatest cookbooks! How awesome is that??!

photo courtesy of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

Rachel and I discussed different options and alternatives for thanksgiving dinner, ways to replace traditional dishes, and to create new traditions. Compassionate Cuisine, a cookbook written by the chefs and Kathy Stevens (founder) at Catskill Animal Sanctuary is a great cookbook with lots of good vegan recipes.

Rachel also mentions the New Leaf Vegan Mentor Program started by Catskill Animal Sanctuary. I am personally a vegan mentor with New Leaf Mentor Program, and would love to connect with anyone who has questions or needs support.

Rachel discusses the organization, Peace Advocacy Network, (PAN) which gives lots of resources and support for going vegan.

Volunteers are always needed on thanksgiving day. If you are near Woodstock Farm Sanctuary and would like to volunteer, please sign up!

Woodstock, along with Barn Sanctuary in Michigan recently rescued 98 chickens who are now called the “Hudson Valley Hundred” and have adopted out some of the chickens to other sanctuaries. We discuss the egg laying industry, and the meat chicken industry. Please visit the site for the new campaign “Consider the Egg” and learn more about the egg laying industry.


Woodstock Farm Sanctuary has openings for interns in all areas if you are interested in learning about working at a sanctuary. To find out more, visit their website.

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