August 10th, 2023

A Site Visit with Saoirse Pastures

What a wonderful way to start the day! Nestled on beautiful green and lush pastures is a sanctuary, a place that has rescued and taken in over 150 animals. In 2017, Shannon Hamilton, Co-Founder, purchased land with acreage and immediately moved to help fill the massive needs of the greater farm animal welfare world. Saoirse Pastures rescues unwanted, abandoned, relinquished, or abused farm animals; facilitates re-homing, and provides lifetime sanctuary in a sustainable, safe, enriched environment.

Saoirse Pastures is the home to many beautiful animals and I had the pleasure to spend an afternoon with them. I got to meet Pebbles & BamBam, Phineas & Pherbs, the triplets, and my personal favorite…Mabel, a 300 pound pig who has the sassiness of a young teenage girl. I learned so much about the welfare and care taking of these animals, but more importantly, I saw the commitment and dedication to creating a better and more comfortable life for them.

Last year, Saoirse Pastures was a grant recipient and Shannon Hamilton (SH) reported “one of the main items we were able to purchase with the unrestricted funds from the 2022 fall grant was a large hay wagon for our cattle herd. We deal with a lot of hay in very large quantities and we try to set up space for them to graze as naturally as possible, but also reduce waste and help in ease of movement (each round bale weights 500-700 lbs.). The hay wagon can hold multiple bales at once ,and since it rolls we can move it to different parts of the sanctuary. This is ideal because the cows are moved to different pastures depending on the season.”

“Why the name Saoirse Pastures?”

SH: Saoirse is an Irish name meaning ‘freedom’. Partially a nod to my Irish heritage, but also getting to the center of our work.

“How did your journey begin?”

SH: It feels to me that this journey started at my birth. My earliest memories are that the world only made sense to me through animals (non-human sentient beings). As I grew up I could see how unjust the world could be for all sentient beings and my need to make a difference and to help those who do not have a voice was clear. It was through my work and volunteer years with animal welfare organizations that I realized there’s never enough space for the number of animals in need. After years of dog rescue we moved to 40 acres and this land became a vessel all on its own. Once you put it out there that you help animals the calls come in and you just go. You figure out what to do along the way. A key part of that was reaching out to other animal rescues and sanctuaries and building relationships, absorbing the knowledge that these amazing people carry with them through their own experiences. There came a point when this became bigger than my own dreams and we incorporated as a non-profit to help make animal care and consciousness a bigger part of our wonderful community.

Written by Gloria Coicou, Chief Inclusion & Community Engagement Officer

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