Peace, Love, & Activism at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

Jeff Lydon, Interim Executive Director at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary 

By Taylor Smith 

Photographs courtesy of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary 

The heart of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary’s mission is to rescue farm animals and to allow those animals to become ambassadors for compassionate living.

Many people may not realize that cattle, roosters, turkeys, chickens, pigs, sheep, ducks, rabbits and goats are very worthy animals—just as worthy as domesticated cats and dogs. As Jeff Lydon, Interim Executive Director at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary states, “these animals are just as sentient and loving as cats and dogs. Despite years of abuse, they can and do grow to love and trust human beings during the course of their rehabilitation.” To better understand the perspective of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, one need only consider their “Thanks-living” event in which turkeys are the guests of honor. At “Thanks-living,” visitors celebrate the turkeys in all their glory, feeding them a full-course vegan meal including delicious pumpkin pie.

Atticus the goat

Promoting and educating the public about veganism is a core mission at the Sanctuary. Every employee abides by the rules of veganism while working at the Sanctuary (no turkey sandwiches are allowed). They also travel to schools throughout Hudson County, NY bringing awareness to students and the general public over the wastefulness and cruelty of factory farming and the harvesting of animals.

It becomes immediately apparent that above all, employees at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary view themselves as caregivers. It is their mission to provide these abused and traumatized animals with a sense of peace and happiness.

One nationally known case is Kayli the “beef breed” cow who escaped from the holding pen of a live poultry market in the Philadelphia area. Lydon becomes emotional speaking about Kayli’s “strong spirit” as she literally ran for her life. Kayli was captured by the local police force and it took the help of Philadelphia attorney Marianne Bessey (an animal activist) for Kayli to receive an official pardon from the governor of Pennsylvania so that she could be transported to her new home in the Catskill Mountains. On July 11, 2011, Kayli was greeted by both “cheers and tears” at Woodstock.

Woodstock Sanctuary could not run without the help of volunteers and interns. With over 340 rescued animals to take care of, that is a lot of barns, coops, and pastures to clean!

Volunteers are welcome throughout the year and may volunteer for the day (Woodstock requests a minimum commitment of 3 hours). All volunteers must attend a 10:30 a.m. orientation. Typical volunteer activities include cleaning the pastures, mucking barns and coops, and raking. All volunteers must be at least 14 years of age (volunteers who are ages 14 or 15 require a parent/guardian supervision for the day).

Interns are required to work a 40-hour work-week over a two to three month period of time. All applicants must be 18 years of age. Internships are unpaid but clearly rewarding. According to Woodstock’s website, “the commitment of interns helps us to rescue, provide care and advocate for suffering victims of food animal production.”

Potential interns come from all sorts of backgrounds—some are looking for an escape from the daily grind while others are interested in immersing themselves in a vegan lifestyle. Whatever the reason, Woodstock seems to attract extremely sensitive and passionate individuals.

While the daily farmwork is physically intensive (and often muddy), the human-animal interactions are priceless. For example, Dolly the llama is particularly known for her warm nuzzles. Dolly came to the sanctuary from an inhumane at-home petting zoo situation where she was confined to a small, concrete enclosure. In contrast, at Woodstock, Dolly roams acres of land and serves as a natural protector and “big sister” to her sheep companions. Like many of Woodstock’s rescues, Dolly is naturally curious and often comes right up to visitors.

Lexi the pig

Another heartwarming tale is Lexi the pig. Lexi was born at a small farm in New Jersey that specializes in farm-to-table meat. Matthew, a culinary student at the time, was working at the farm and learning how to raise the animals for slaughter. The experience changed Matthew’s entire life path. Not only did he quit culinary school, he also convinced the farmer to sell him the entire litter of piglets (including Lexi), which were then brought to Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. Lexi is now a very large, happy pig with an evident “lust for life.”

It took Clyde the rooster no time at all to assert himself as being large and in charge at Woodstock, earning him the nickname, “Clyde the Character.” Clyde was rescued from the streets of New York City where he is estimated to have escaped from a storefront “live kill” market. Thanks to the efforts of one good Samaritan, Clyde feels safe and secure enough to tolerate occasional hugs!

Beyond volunteer and intern opportunities, Woodstock welcomes animal sponsorships. Each sponsorship provides an animal with feed, shelter, and care for one year. The sponsorships also make a great holiday gift. Recipients are given a personalized photo and note from their particular animal, including the animal’s name and background information.

In addition to monetary gifts, Woodstock welcomes the donation of items from their Amazon wish list (visit, vehicle donations, Amazon Smile, professional skills, and more.

100 percent of funds and donations go towards the feeding, care, and safety of Woodstock’s animals. Currently, all gifts will be matched dollar for-dollar by a very generous anonymous donor. By “doubling the love,” Woodstock will continue to grow their education and outreach programs.

To donate today, simply visit

Clyde the rooster

The open season for group tours will resume in April 2017 and run through October 2017. For non-volunteers, the farm is open on weekends only from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids/seniors (toddlers and Woodstock members are free). While guided tours are not mandatory, they are highly recommended. There is no additional charge for the tour which generally run around 90 minutes. During the tours, visitors will be allowed to enter the pastures and yards to socialize with the animals.

It’s suggested that visitors bring weatherproof clothes and boots. Woodstock also encourages visitors to bring their own lunch, but out of respect for the animals, no meat or dairy is allowed. Lastly, don’t forget to give the animals a few cuddles before you leave!