Set in the rolling hills of the Hunter Valley, just two hours north of Sydney, Where Pigs Fly is a haven for rescued farmed animals who have nowhere else to go.
Where Pigs Fly is a farm sanctuary where the animals are free to enjoy 100 acres of open pastures. Here they can live a life free from harm and suffering. It’s a far cry from the conventional farms these animals have come from.
Driven by the simple philosophy that all animals should be treated with compassion and respect, Debbie and her partner James left Sydney four years ago to start the refuge.
“We aim to make a better world for all animals,” says Debbie from her farm.
The couple does this in two ways. At the core of what they do is the hands-on rescue of farmed animals, rescued from cruelty, abuse and abandonment.
“We are also committed to education,” Debbie explains. “We believe knowledge has the power to change the way our society views and treats farmed animals.”
In the four years of operation the sanctuary has rescued and rehabilitated hundreds of farmed animals from neglect, abuse and abandonment. They have also hosted thousands of people at the sanctuary via open days, tours and school programs.
“Most visitors to the sanctuary have never seen a pig before they come here. Ninety-five percent of pigs are hidden away on factory farms,” explains Debbie. “When people visit they get to see these animals as the individuals they are – no different from our cats and dogs. To look into the eyes of a farmed animal and make a connection is a truly profound experience for many visitors.”
Nestled in a quiet valley with a creek running through it, the cows, sheep, goats, turkey, chicken, horses, pigs and ducks are free to roam the paddocks. Some will even spark up meaningful friendships with other animals.
“Bubbles, our little pig, has become friends with Seamus, a blind lamb. They’re always together.”
“Every animal has a unique personality. Some animals are morning animals and others are deeply introverted.”
Moby is a cheeky goat who refuses to leave Debbie’s side, managing to find his way around any gate or fence, wandering the sanctuary with her throughout the day.
Building a barn to become more sustainable
Running a sanctuary like this takes a lot of time and money.
“We’re in 100% drought at the moment. And that’s seen the cost of our food go up to $5,000 to $6,000 every month.”
To help Where Pigs Fly become more self-sustaining and resilient to droughts, the Australian Ethical Foundation will contribute a $20,000 Community Grant to build a barn to store hay and other feed for the animals. This means the sanctuary can order enough hay to see them through the current drought. They will also be able to grow and store their food in the future, cutting costs significantly.
“This Community Grant is absolutely amazing for us. We’re so grateful to Australian Ethical for the opportunity to build a barn that will make a difference to so many animals’ lives!”
Creating a more ethical world
Animal welfare has been a lifelong passion of both Debbie and Jamie.
“We saw that the farm sanctuary movement was growing worldwide and incredibly effective in educating the broader community,” says Debbie. “There was a huge need for such a sanctuary in NSW, so we decided to do it. Life is short and you need to follow your passions. ”We wanted to play a significant part in making a better world for animals.
“The majority of farmed animals in Australia and around the world are stuck in horrific conditions. We want Where Pigs Fly to provide an example of how farmed animals can live in peace, free from harm and suffering.”
Visiting the sanctuary
The sanctuary is open to the general public throughout the year for open days. And volunteer programs are run through schools and businesses on request.
“We just allow people to come up, meet the animals, hear their stories and connect with animals most only know as food on their plates.”
“We believe a more ethical world is one where all animals and all humans are treated with compassion, respect and kindness. We want to share this with others.”
Find out about how you can get involved with Where Pigs Fly here.