An Interview with Hugletts Wood Farm Sanctuary’s Founder Wenda

It was like visiting a different world, so beautiful and calm full of the most gorgeous animals. It quickly became one of my favourite places! I have been sponsoring Judha the cow for approximately four years now and Yogi the sheep for nearly three years, since he was a tiny, gorgeous, very cuddly lamb.

When choosing the Greener Beauty charities Hugletts was at the top of the list as a place that holds a very special piece of my heart. Founders Wenda and Matt both have such interesting stories of how they came to run Hugletts so it is a pleasure to introduce our interview with Wenda.

Don’t forget you can donate to Hugletts in your Cart!

Vic x

Tell us a little bit about Hugletts Wood Farm and what inspired you to start it?

Hugletts Wood is a place of love, peace and safety for both the rescued farm animals and the wildlife who inhabit the forest, the fields, the sky and the hedges. In a nutshell, we offer sanctuary to cows and their friends. No matter the body they are in.

We have a reputation for offering specialist care to those with a mental or physical challenge, which is well known now. We find ourselves welcoming some of the most beautiful new residents, ready, willing and wanting to live life to the full, as best their damaged bodies or minds allow. We are here to facilitate that.

Our philosophy is based on a spiritual belief that ALL life is equal; from the tiniest sapling to the biggest elephant; – that it is our duty to care for all sensed beings; to nurture the Earth by living as harmless life as possible but perhaps most importantly, to practice what we preach. To this end the sanctuary runs on solar and wind power. We recycle grey water, use an environmentally-sound Swedish composting toilet system, and recycle everything that is recyclable. It goes without saying the foundation on which we have built is veganism – you simply can’t love animals and eat them!!!

We are in our 25th year now and pray there are at least 25 more years for us to serve anyone who makes it to the gate, before we hand over the reins to someone who thinks as we do and will continue to put the well-being of the residents before everything else.

What inspired me? That goes way, way back to when I was a child –

Having been caught liberating 7 calves from the farm where they had been taken from their mothers, ready for sale, when I was almost 8, my punishment was to be forced to watch them loading for market the next morning. I vowed that day, at some point in the future, I didn’t know when or how, I would create a place where no one was forced to leave; where no one knew the pain of separation and no one felt fear.  I was in my 30’s when I was ready to sell my home to fund the purchase of the sanctuary and relinquish my materialistic desires, to settle in a shack with a dog, 20 cats and another human being, in order that the dream became a reality.

Could you tell us more about your career prior to founding the charity?

I acted as CFO for a Tech company and before that, I worked as an archaeologist, on sites in the Middle East.

What does an average day running Hugletts look like?

Up well before dawn, except in Summer when it’s about the same time as sunrise. In Winter, as it is now, we make milk replacer for the “smalls” so they don’t have to wait for breakfast and we feed them from bottles, rather than the less time-consuming rack of milk, that chills fast and affords no interaction and comfort to the calves and lambs. Matthew usually does a check of the barns to see everyone is ok while I make the feeds.  We have a quick cup of tea and then off to muck out and feed the residents. By about 10am we have completed the medicine run and everyone has clean fresh bedding, hay or feed and the birds who live in the cherry orchard are trotting around. Any physical treatments are offered right after our breakfast, whenever we get chance to make it.

While it’s lunchtime for the lambs and calves we both spend a couple of hours or more if possible, being with whoever needs or wants company. As well as creating a relationship with everyone, socialising allows us time to gently examine whoever we are with, making sure that all is well with their body. We catch potential problems early, that way, so most things are never at a stage where they prove untreatable.

In the afternoons, we have deliveries – we are getting through 35 large round bales of hay a week and 20 of straw, so that means three deliveries a week; the grains come on Wednesdays. If we have to go out, we change the times we go, so our absences never become a part of the daily routine – we go, we come and no one notices, as they snooze or mooch around.

The vets visit in the afternoon unless we have an emergency.

By 4pm, we are starting the evening feeds, making up over 160 rubber trugs of feed, to compliment the hay. We make up trugs for the individual, each with a sprinkling of something wonderful to maintain interest. While Matthew finishes the feeds, I put the birds away for the night, following a head count – the birds who sleep in the cherry trees are in position by dusk.

If we haven’t grabbed a sandwich or a bowl of home-made soup in the day, we might eat now at 5pm with dinner following at 10pm – not the best of situations, but necessary none-the-less. Evening medicine runs, paperwork and then we work making our individual items that bring in the money to run here. As well as caring for the well-being of the residents we earn the money to run here, so that no matter what, we can feed the rescued animals and birds.

Between 5-6pm is tea -time milk. Supper is served about 11.30pm, more meds and then we get time to finish working. Before bed, which is any time after midnight, we check everyone is safe and well, then bath and bed to sleep for a few hours.

The times when someone is sick or preparing to leave their body, I give up my daily work schedule to Matthew, while I serve them 24 hours a day until they are recovered or they pass away peacefully.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey running Hugletts?

That humans are the most destructive and definitely the least important species inhabiting this Earth

If there was one thing that keeps yourself and the Hugletts from moving forward what would it be?

Not being able to fund the expansion of the Sanctuary. It is so urgently needed to allow us to offer life-long care to more damaged individuals. Right now we are running between two sites, that need to become one, with the purchase of land next door.

What do you do in your spare time?

Spare time?? What’s that??

If you could visit one place on Earth where would you go?

I guess I am blessed that before the sanctuary started, I had travelled to most places I’d had an urge to visit, all over the world. My younger life was spent living throughout the Middle East. However, if my carbon footprint was not too compromised, I would love to go to Petra in Jordan. It’s probably the only place I haven’t yet visited, that I would still like to see.

Favourite Food?

Black dhal and rice (with a HUGE salad); simple, healthy, vegan food.

If you could choose three dream dinner dates who would they be?

Serj Tankinen singer from System of a Down and activist for global recognition of the Armenian Massacre.

Ronnie Lee, Founder of the Animal Liberation Front  – gentle, thoughtful and a man who has never been afraid to walk the talk.

Jose Muxica ex-President of Uruguay and expert in the art of “Simple Living”.

What always brings a smile to your face?

When I listen to people talking about veganism, who seem completely unaware that Veganism and Animal Rights are inseparable. Not sure if it’s a smile or a grimace of disbelief, but it happens every time.

If you were a superhero what powers would you have?

Instinctively I would like the power to turn the whole world vegan but that’s a tall order, so I would make do with the power take away the fear and pain we see not only in the eyes of everyone who comes here, before they heal, but all those animals and birds who are imprisoned in the production of flesh, eggs and dairy.

Tell us about your proudest achievement

Delivering a calf, we named Gromit, from his 10 year-old Mother, who was at the helm, showing me what to do to assist her. It’s 24 years ago now but the joy of those hours, just the two of us, then the three of us, remains fresh in my memory.

They lived happily together for sixteen and a half years until Clover, the mother, left her body, naturally, with her boy at her side.

If you could give one message to others about Hugletts what would it be?

We are living gently, so that others may heal and flourish.

What are your goals for Hugletts?

Possibly because we don’t see the sanctuary as a business, we aren’t motivated to set goals. What goals could they be? To rescue 2000 animals?? To be the biggest sanctuary in the UK. No! That’s not our way of progressing.
Perhaps our goals are to never lose sight of what Hugletts Wood is about – to serve everyone who seeks sanctuary; to treat everyone as an individual.

Obviously we will need to grow but it should be out of necessity rather than desire and in 50 years’ time to still have people say “Hugletts Wood? That place is just so special. I didn’t want to leave!”

To find out more about Hugletts and the amazing work they do please visit their Facebook page here.

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