I’ve had the privilege and absolute joy of visiting Here With Us Farm Sanctuary twice to photograph their beautiful rescued animals. During the time between my shoots, I watched them grow from a small, backyard operation with two goats to a much larger farm with 51 rescues! Here With Us is a very special place with a lot of wonderful stories to tell. That’s why I asked co-founder Amanda for an interview.
Chris Corrao: Stories & Portraits (CCSP): First, please tell me a little bit about yourself.
Here With Us Farm Sanctuary (HWUFS): I’m Amanda, co-founder of Here With Us Farm Sanctuary! I went vegetarian in high school when a friend showed me the Meet Your Meat documentary. It wasn’t until 12 years later, after learning of the horrors of the dairy and egg industries, that I went vegan, in 2015. My mission with Here With Us is to show people that animals are individuals with personalities, feelings and emotions, just like us.
CCSP: How many animals have found refuge at your sanctuary?
HWUFS: There are currently 51 amazing animals who reside at Here With Us Farm Sanctuary.
CCSP: I would love to hear about some of the animals at Here With Us Farm Sanctuary.
HWUFS: Rufus is a 6 month old Jersey calf who has been with us since right after we moved to our new property in Seven Valleys, PA in March of 2019. He was rescued from a dairy farm when a group of monks negotiated with the farmer to have him sent to sanctuary, rather than slaughter. Then there’s Peg. Peg is a Cornish Cross chicken who came from a large SPCA rescue in Philly, where over 1000 chicks were living in filthy conditions with no food, shelter, or water. Cornish Cross chickens are bred to reach slaughter weight by just 8 weeks old. Peg is now almost 1 year old, and she is a sweetheart! Peg loves being held and being told how beautiful she is! One of the newer residents at the sanctuary, Tank, is a two week old Pekin duck. I got a message from a compassionate employee of Tractor Supply about a 1 day old duckling who was having trouble with his neck. I came in to get him right away. Tank was diagnosed with Wry neck, which is a condition that could be caused by head trauma or a vitamin deficiency. When I get Tank’s food ready every morning and evening, he gets 4 different vitamins crushed up and mixed in, and we are already seeing an improvement, Tank is doing so great!
CCSP: Chris Corrao: Stories & Portraits is all about telling stories. Who at the sanctuary has a unique story?
HWUFS: Oh there are so many! But Alice’s story has a special place in my heart. Alice was originally rescued with her baby Eddie from an overcrowded meat farm. She was diagnosed with Listeria, and spent more than 3 weeks at the vet, unable to move and being tube fed. When she was finally able to come home, we continued physical therapy with her and thanks to generous donors, we were able to purchase her a wheelchair. After two weeks in the wheelchair she had regained enough strength to walk again on her own. Alice can now run and play with Eddie, and although the left side of her face is still partially paralyzed, she can eat and drink on her own. She is amazing!
CCSP: What inspired you to save and care for farm animals?
HWUFS: After visiting Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY and reading Gene Baur’s book Living the Farm Sanctuary Life, I knew I needed to do something. Being vegan just wasn’t enough for me. I needed to do something to help end the large amount of suffering that is happening every day and I needed to do something to close the disconnect and help educate the public that farm animals are no different than cats or dogs.
CCSP: What is your daily routine? You have so many animals to care for!
HWUFS: Morning feedings start around 8:00am. I do not have a working outdoor water hookup so buckets are filled indoors at the kitchen sink and brought out to the animals. Evening feedings are around 5:00pm and then our special needs animals are given their medications after. During the day, I try to spend time in each pasture and often bring snacks out to everyone!
CCSP: How can people support Here With Us Farm Sanctuary?
HWUFS: Sharing the animals’ stories is huge! The more people we can reach, the better. We also offer animal sponsorships! When you sponsor an animal, you’ll receive photos in the mail every month and your monthly donation will help to cover the costs of their food, snacks, and additional care.
CCSP: Do you offer tours of the sanctuary?
HWUFS: We do offer monthly tours! The tour dates can be found in the events section of our Facebook page. If the public tour dates do not work for you, we are happy to accommodate private tours as well. Our animal sponsors are also able to visit at any time!
CCSP: What is your vision for Here With Us in the future? What do you hope it looks like in 5 years? 10 years?
HWUFS: I hope the sanctuary continues to grow! I hope to be able to expand our current property in the future, so we can rescue more animals. And, I hope to learn new and bigger ways to continue our outreach.
CCSP: I know that you are also a photographer and take beautiful portraits of your sanctuary’s residents. What role do you think photography plays in animal advocacy?
HWUFS: Photography is so important. Being able to convey each animal’s individual personality helps people connect with them.
CCSP: What is the best part of running an animal sanctuary?
HWUFS: Seeing the animals’ transformations, such as watching them learn to trust people, learn to play, or take a treat from someone’s hand for the first time. I love looking out my windows and seeing all the animals just living their lives. Not being forced to do anything they don’t want to do, not being used as commodities, just simply living their lives. It’s amazing.
CCSP: What is the most challenging aspect of running an animal sanctuary?
HWUFS: The most challenging aspect by far is dealing with the loss of an animal, an individual, a being, a family member.
CCSP: Is there anything else you would like to share?
HWUFS: I really would just like to say thank you to every single one of our supporters. We literally could not do this without you.
To see more photos of the animal residents at Here With Us Farm Sanctuary and read more of their stories, visit my recent gallery here.
Ready for your own photo session?