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Is a Farm Stay With Rescue Animals Your Idea of Heaven?

Animals
Is a Farm Stay With Rescue Animals Your Idea of Heaven?
Pexels

By Rachael Roth

The year 2019 is the year of the pig, and we speculate that it's also the year of the vegan (how many dating profiles have bragged about animal-free diets recently?). With 55 percent of Americans vowing to eat more plant-forward diets this year, it's clear that our focus has shifted from consuming animals to cuddling with them. Lovers of all things furry can now stay overnight at farms that house and rehabilitate animals across the U.S. When you stay at one of these sanctuaries, you'll be guaranteed quality time with critters and contribute to the longevity of the farms' initiatives, so you can sleep even easier.


Farm Sanctuary

Farm Sanctuary

Watkins Glen, New York

If waking up on a farm to sheep, pigs and cows awaiting belly rubs is your dream, let Farm Sanctuary in the Finger Lakes make it a reality. Beginning in the mid-'80s as an animal activist group (cofounder and president Gene Baur would sell vegan hotdogs out of a Volkswagen bus at Grateful Dead concerts and inform attendees about the injustices of factory farming), Farm Sanctuary now houses 800 rescue animals in its flagship location alone. Here, they are spared from slaughterhouses, factory farms and stockyards. Guests can visit the farm for the day and have a picnic (vegan, of course) or stay overnight in their tiny houses (starting at $160 a night). Farm Sanctuary also has a second location in Acton, California.

San Diego Farm Animal Rescue

San Diego Farm Animal Rescue

San Diego, California

Just 15 minutes from the beaches of Encinitas, San Diego Farm Animal Rescue is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that rehabilitates and finds forever homes for animals and advocates for sustainability through educational programs available to the public. Guests can stay in cozy cottages right on the farm, where 100 percent of your $99-a-night stay will go to the animals. You can play with and feed horses, pigs, chickens and roosters while you're there.

Animal Place

Grass Valley, California

Located in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California, this animal sanctuary, which started in 1989, is one of the oldest in the U.S. Meet Cleo the pig, Butterscotch the goat and more than 300 rescued animals who call this farm home. The guesthouse on the property accommodates up to 10 people (it's $750 to book the entire house, or you can rent individual rooms for $200 a night). The owners ask that you bring only cruelty-free products with you. You can book a stay in the guesthouse, which comes with a free guided tour of the farm and allows you to meet the animals, or a longer, private tour for $75.

Kindness Ranch

Hartville, Wyoming

Devoted to rescuing research animals, Kindness Ranch gives dogs, cats, sheep, horses and pigs a new lease on life on its 1,000-acre paradise. The ranch works to domesticate and rehabilitate animals that have only known labs and strives to find them forever homes. Opened in 2006, the ranch has rescued more than 1,000 animals and counting. Its pet-friendly one- and two-bedroom yurts can be reserved for $109 and $150 a night, respectively.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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