Animals’ Advent

animals christmas
For a sample of this creaturely cantata, click the Youtube link below.

I confessed at the beginning of this Advent “calendar” project that I can be quite Scroogey about Christmas.  But I do have at least one tradition: every year since 1986 when it was first released, I listen to Jimmy Webb’s “The Animals’ Christmas,” featuring Art Garfunkel and Amy Grant.  I am not ashamed to admit it: I love this CD.

I hope that one of my gifts to animals this year is that I finally go all-the-way vegan.  Yes, the Better Half and I have been talking about it for years.  And we get so close to the goal.  But then someone waves a little Cowgirl Creamery “Red Hawk” or Harley Farms pesto- or sundried-tomato- or cranberry goat cheese under our noses, and we discover that we are masters of the art of rationalization.

So 2013 is our year.

Meanwhile, there are things we can all do.

  1. Last February, an industrial chicken producer left 50,000 chickens to starve to death at a “farm” outside of Turlock, CA.  Most were indeed dead or so weakened they had to be euthanized.  But several thousand were cleared to be placed with rescue groups or sanctuaries.  Animal Place in Grass Valley, CA took almost all of these birds, cared for them, and worked throughout the year to place them all in permanent homes or sanctuaries.  The last five hens went to a new home today.  Animal Place is not a particularly big-budget group, and they do good work with what they have.  Donate here.
  2. If you lean toward the other coast, check out the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, NY, instead.  CAS rescues abused and neglected farm animals, and offers educational programs about “the devastating impacts of agribusiness and institutionalized cruelty on animals, people, and the planet.”  Donate here.
  3. Sasha Farm is the largest farm animal sanctuary in the Midwest, but it operates on a shoestring budget.  The terrible drought this past year reduced the amount of hay available, and at least doubled the price.  Help them feed over 250 animals by donating to their Hay Drive.
  4. Right across the bridge, in San Rafael, CA, the Humane Farming Association is working hard to stop the egg industry’s outrageous effort to make egg cages a national standard that could never be challenged by voter initiatives such as California’s Proposition 2.  HFA’s lobbying division, Humane Farming Action Fund, has been actively and effectively lobbying against factory farming since 1991.  My friend J. thinks of HFA every time she sees a nativity scene: “…imagine the holy family crammed into a factory farm stall!”  Well, that’s an image.  Donate here.
  5. The Farm Animal Sanctuary probably has a bit more name-recognition than these other groups, and I was featuring the others for that reason.  But I’m a sucker for a good matching-gift opportunity, and they have one: donate by December 17 and your donation will be doubled.

That’s FIVE organizations you can donate to (and I don’t work for any of them)!  This is my way of making up for a few missed days of Advent-posting.  Imagine you forgot to pull open the doors on your Advent calendar over a busy weekend, and you get to open several at once to catch up.

Now, feast your eyes on the awesomeness that is Amy Grant’s 1986 hair and parachute pants.  Then close your eyes and listen to “Carol of the Birds,” from the aforementioned “The Animals’ Christmas” (seriously – close your eyes, because the sound appears to lag behind the video and will start to drive you to distraction).

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