My Mission - Filming Florida's "Not A Petting Zoo" Farm

>>  Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My animal rights group initiated a "film a factory farm" event. I couldn't justify the gas nor could I find anyone to carpool with - So I decided to participate in my own area, by photographing not a large industrial "factory farm", but a small enterprise that uses nonhumans as products and commodities. 
A bit of background about the man who operates this place that sells "small farm animals". I've been to his place several times during the last few years. This property is adjacent to a farmers market that sells a nice variety of veggies... On every occasion that I've spoken with this man his attitude has been consistently crass, rude, vulgar and down right hostile. I guess that's why I wanted to document what types of characters run these animal enterprises.

Throughout the dozen or so times I've visited this run-down "farm" the animal "products" have always been in less than ideal conditions; Left without water or food, torn tarps that offer no shelter from weather and absolutely no bedding or nesting material. The only thing in good repair at this place are the chains and locks..

                                                    At the onset of our first meeting he warned me that he does not sell "pets". That these animals were for meat or sacrifice only. I winced and said "No thanks" to either because I was a vegan.

From that time on he went out of his way to gleefully tell me about how his business booms, selling to people during their ritual "offerings". He would go into great detail explaining all the religions that do this, that or the other to these animals during their "holy" days. He told me I should go to the graveyards and by the lakes at dawn to see dozens of headless cats and dogs... He is clearly against all "ethnic" groups... But he has no problem exchanging lives for cash. There was always a stock of goats and lambs during Ramadan and other religious events. And of course he carried turkeys, geese and ducks for Thanks-killing day. Now, aside from this... I never instigated any friction. I spoke my mind peaceably... Disagreed with his believes and interacted with what nonhumans he'd allow me to... It never seemed like he minded me on his property. 

But this particular day I was there with a camera... Once he saw me filming he demanded I leave. He shouted vulgar things at me with his nose an inch from mine. His daughter, seen in the background also yelled with rage for me to "LEAVE!". I'm certain that had there not been witnesses he would not have "controlled" his temper. His anger was escalated to the point that his body was shaking in a fit. The veins in his face bulged and turned blue... He shouted to me that I was a "liberal - peta - faggot - whore!". Nice...

Still I took what pictures I could as he threatened to call the sheriff. I would have left after these few photos... That was my only intent - To document these beings held for future sacrifice and slaughter. That was my "mission". But I refused to go. Instead I leaned on my car and stated that I was not breaking any law. The property I was on was not his. And it was not illegal to take photos of any "farm" or farmed animal. 

Sure enough within minutes a car pulled up and I was asked what my intentions were of photographing his place. I affirmed that it was only to document what a place that "sells" animals for future killing looked like. I also offered my name, address, age, height, etc. I wanted it to be clear that I was totally cooperative - And rational.
After a few minutes I began my plea about how these chickens and ducks are no different than any other being. How everyone just wants to live and how none of us has the right to take someone elses life... I assured him that my intentions were just to create a more peaceful world. And that the idea of violence or aggression against anyone was not my goal at all. After he listened a while... He called in some code that said I was not a threat... And that he didn't need back up...

I talked a bit more about compassion... And how we all really have empathy for others - It's just that our culture discourages us from acting on it... After my short out pouring he told me that his wife was almost a "vegetarian" and how he thought about it too (for his health). !!! Meanwhile, I am smiling my charm ear to ear as I hand him a copy of Why Vegan and Mr. Mean Farm-man is seething over our unexpected pleasant exchange! Ha! LMAO!

So a minute or two later, I extended my sincere apology for upsetting things. I asked if he would convey that to Mean Farm-man... I was also advised not to test my welcome there again.  And that's fair enough - There's nothing I want there anyway, except for the liberty of these animals on death row. :( 

I said "thank you" and left. 

Now... Between us - Can I tell you I was afraid? That at some point I didn't really know what Mean Farm-man was capable of? That my knees were nervous... And that as I waited for officials to arrive I ran through all sorts of bad scenarios and the possibility of arrest went through my head. After all... This is Polk County with Grady Judd at the helm of "the law".  And my confidence in any "justice" system is holding on by a very frayed thread.

The thing about it is... You don't always have to be breaking a law to have your life put on hold or burdened with unimaginable debt to prove your innocence. That is why I wrote this entry about admiring those who risk so much in direct actions that do have known consequences. My little piss-ant encounters illustrate to me that those who risk so much more... And accomplish the actual liberation of victims, truly deserve accolades. I do not believe they are "terrorists" when they break locks or destroy property in order to rescue prisoners and slaves. I will not ever be one to harshly judge that their actions jeopardize the public's perception on animal rights because honestly, if these people aren't sympathetic to the caged pigs and chickens... They will hardly be moved with empathy at the meat cases either.
I admit openly that I haven't the courage or chutzpah it takes to lay my life, safety or freedom on the line... But for those who go beyond what I fear - - - They are heroes in my eyes...


Olivia September 8, 2011 at 7:49 AM  

Yes, I, too, admire those who are willing to put their lives on the line to save animals. I think you have exhibited the same traits of courage and chutzpah, Bea. Certainly more than I feel I could! I would not have dared set foot on that property, for two reasons.

One, I couldn't bear to look at the poor little ones being treated miserably as well as the thought that these individuals (whose faces would be fixed in my mind) would soon be subjected to an even worse fate: "sacrificed" in the name of the false "gods" of selfishness, sensuality and occultism.

Two, I'd be fearful of what the "owner" of these animals might do to me, who in his eyes is another "worthless" "animal." (Actually, I'm worth less than the other animals, who are at least valuable when traded for cold hard cash.)

At the same time, strangely enough, I feel pity for him. He seems such an unhappy character. Anger is never a happy feeling.

As for his daughter, poor girl, she wasn't given the chance to grow up in a home with true love for animals. (But then again, neither was he when he was a lad, most probably.)

Someday, I pray, both he and she will be awakened to the pure joy, freedom and lightness that come with being a caretaker of animals -- taking care of them in the way we are created to do.

Meantime, they don't realize what peace they're missing out on! And what real power (to be good and loving) they've relinquished to their false "gods" of venality and anthropocentric pride.

Anyway, you are one brave Bea. And I'm grateful that the "right" officer was called to the scene. Also, I'm grateful you had witnesses. And a new witness: your photos. They tell all.

Thank goodness the Florida legislature failed to pass the proposed bill that would've prevented you from taking those pictures and exposing that form of evil to the world.

veganelder September 9, 2011 at 10:51 AM  

Well, you are a hero in my eyes Bea. Thank you for your courage and persistence. Your actions were not a little "piss-ant" thing. You're a brave, brave woman with a big big heart and I am so glad you are here on this planet. Thank you.

Gary Loewenthal September 13, 2011 at 6:11 PM  

You're a hero to me, too - and to the animals!

Bea Elliott September 13, 2011 at 7:50 PM  

Hi Olivia! I totally agree that it's all the more twisted to include any love of Good with these horrible, self-indulgent, life-robbing acts. That this "Christian" man supplies them with the victims is even more disturbing.

What few of the "not pets" that I have interacted with... The geese befriended me most. They were so affectionately curious and sociable! It made me wonder where they came from. And that brings up another gorey possibility I never thought of before now... I'm sure people relinquish previous "family members" all the time. I wonder if they realize the fate that awaits those they once (almost) loved? I don't mean to make the situation more awful than what it is... Guess that's the trouble with thinking things through. :(

I too feel a bit of pity for them... The daughter especially... They both miss so much being trapped in their hard, isolated views.

But oh how things could be different! With some thought and effort this place could be turned around to be a petting "sanctuary". A small admission - a handful of bread... I bet his place would draw lots of families in... He could explain how the rabbits, ducks, chickens and so on love their lives too. And how we should respect this... And how we don't need to harm them... He could hand them literature as they left smiling and awakened. It could all be so much better... Sigh - Something to wish for...

Thanks for your visit! :)

Bea Elliott September 13, 2011 at 8:10 PM  

Hi Veganelder - Hi Gary!

I'm humbled... Sincerely. I didn't write this post for any credits - But in hind sight it does give us all an opportunity to appreciate the things we can do within the niche we're given. I guess we all wear our own style of "balaclava".

And from mine to yours - Rabbit Rescues and World Wide Vegan Bake Sales sure do represent an incalculable amount of worthwhile activism. You're both awesome champs in my eyes too!

~thanks~ <3

Have Gone Vegan September 14, 2011 at 7:55 PM  

What you did was awesome, Bea. And don't you forget it! :)

Bea Elliott September 19, 2011 at 4:36 PM  

Thanks HGV - I don't know that I can remember to think of myself as a hero... But rather (I hope) that I can always remember the potential for each of us to be so.

You wear a white hat in my eyes too! ;)