A complete copy of our official "business plan" is available on our website at www.estherthewonderpig.com
June 4 update
Wow, how our lives have continued to change in the last month. Before the Indiegogo campaign started, I don’t think either one of us recognized that this would become the biggest undertaking of our lives and that so many people would be changed by our experience with Esther. How have our lives changed? First, we wake up every day anxious about achieving our goal of starting the Esther sanctuary, also, we are touched daily by the stories of people who are doing all they can to live an animal-compassionate life, and most incredibly, our relationship as a couple is even stronger than ever because we are working together for a common purpose with the same goal – to demonstrate to others how much farm animals can contribute to our lives by living with us instead of feeding us.
We thought it would be nice to share a couple of stories that have come to us in the past week, just to let you know how much we appreciate hearing how Esther is changing people’s lives. If you have a story to share, please go to Esther’s facebook page or website. We LOVE hearing from you all.
The Esther Effect
" The classroom banner my class made for their end of the year Peace Building assembly. Esther has been a part of the conversations. She is making such a different all over. My students made vegan pig treats for a local farm sanctuary. We love our piggies. All because of Esther. Chicago loves you!!!! "
Here's a recent video of Esther playing tag with Derek - how could you resist playtime on a sunny day with a beautiful pink pig?
And now back to our regular programming ....
My name is Steve and this is the story about how a completely unplanned addition to our family became a 530lb gentle giant that changed our lives forever. Unwilling to give her up, we decided to alter the course of our lives; sending us down a path we never could have imagined. Little did we know this little piggy had a power unlike anything we had ever experienced. We call it "the Esther effect."
What are WE doing? Because of the impact Esther made on us, we have decided to completey change the course of our lives dedicating ourselves to sharing our story, and improving the lives of farmed animals. We have an accepted offer on a farm, and your contribution will help us bring Esther's sanctuary to life. You will help us secure the property and make the required improvements we need to start saving the lives of the countless animals that desperately need us. You'll help us build a place you can visit and interact with these amazing animals in a breathtaking environment. This won't be your average barnyard either. Your contribution will help us create an environment where we can show pigs living in clean barns with slip resistant hard floors and blankets for bedding. They'll have a space more like a "living room" than a barn so we can demonstrate their intelligence and abilities to be toilet trained. It will be unlike any sanctuary you've seen before with a huge community garden and free cooking classes to show you how to use your harvest in simple but delicious ways. The whole space will be designed to break down barriers and level the playing field between our companion animals, and those we see as products. It's a huge task but if anyone can do it, we can. We've spent the last two years learning from Esther and applying these training techniques to our new pigs will help make this all possible. We've done it with Esther, and we'll do it again but we cannot do it without you. The sanctuary used to be a dream but it is so much more than that now. It has become our mission and we will move heaven and earth to make it happen. We are working towards establishing our organization's charitable status with the help of our lawyer whose information is available upon request; and our accountant, Paul Latour CGA at (289) 924-0770.
Are we crazy? How did we end up here? Two years ago we were just an average couple: Derek, a professional magician, and me, a world-class bagpiper/real estate agent, living the dream together for 14 years in a small town just outside of Toronto - your typical love story right? We hung out with friends, drank, and entertained by our backyard koi pond almost constantly, but that all changed one Friday night when a message came through on Facebook from an old school friend of mine. "I have a mini pig that needs a home" she said. Always a lover of animals, without hesitation I expressed interest and said I'd get back to her. Shortly thereafter a second message came along. "Someone else is interested, I need to know now." The pressure was on and being a huge animal lover, and a sucker, I took the bait. Within 12 hours of that very first message a 3lb pig was ours, and all this happened before Derek knew anything about it. Little did we know this tiny pig would change the course of our lives forever. The adventure of a lifetime had begun, and we didn't even know it.
After a few weeks of settling in we began to see the most incredible things from our new family member who was now known as "Esther". We had already fallen madly in love with this amazingly affectionate, curious and all around hilarious little pig when we made our first vet appointment. This was the day things began to get really interesting. The vet immediately brought our attention to Esther's short little tail. It had been cropped, an apparent sign she was no mini pig, but rather a full size commercial pig. We were horrified but again, madly in love. We looked at our options and more importantly, Esther's options but just couldn't bring ourselves to give her up. At the same time, we had the realization that this incredible animal we so quickly came to love was meant to be someone's dinner. We no longer had the ability to detach ourselves from what we were eating, and this caused the first of many significant life changing decisions. We went vegan. We couldn't handle the thought of the life Esther was born for, and it has become our mission to provide a home for as many of her relatives as we possibly can; and to educate as many people as we possibly can that these animals are loving, intelligent, and sensitive animals. Not just a product or a piece of pork.
Esther is almost two years old now and living in our little 1000sq/ft house with the two of us, our two dogs, and our two cats. She is completely house trained asking us to go outside, and letting us know when she wants back in. She has a bed in the living room where she sleeps at night, and big bin of toys that she plays with constantly. She even sits for her treats and climbs in and out of the bath when its time for a scrub down......even at her current weight of approximately 530lbs+. We have learned so much from Esther that we decided to start a Facebook page for her to show our family and friends. That page quickly exploded to over 140,000 likes in only 5 months, along with thousands of additional fans on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Esther is now changing the lives of her fans the same way she changed ours. By opening peoples minds and showing a side of these incredible animals we never knew existed. The impact she is making has inspired us to completely change the course of our lives. We are in the process of registering a charity so we can open a farm sanctuary for her, and other food industry animals. We want to provide them with the paradise they deserve, and show their amazing personalities to the world via our social media and online platforms.
What can YOU do to help? The purchase price of the farm is $905,000 and it's located in Campbellville Ontario, about 45 minutes from Toronto. We have been given 60 days by the sellers of the property to raise the required funds we need to make this project work. We need to raise $400,000cdn of which the majority will go to paying down the farm, bringing the mortgage to a feasible level for us to maintain along with the substantial costs of operating the farm itself. We have been working more hours than we can count to save money of our own, and to keep up with the demands of Esther's new-found popularity that was so unexpectedly added to our schedules. We're now at a point where we need to make a decision and direct our focus. We want nothing more than to be able to dedicate our lives to this, so having a sustainable mortgage payment is crucial. We simply cannot maintain the work schedule needed to cover the higher mortgage, along with the added expense and time of running the farm itself. The rest of the money will go towards the required improvements we need to make before we can start bringing more animals in, and allowing us to welcome guests, such as renovating the pig barn, clearing and repairing pathways and guest toilets, repairing and replacing fences. The list is endless but one step at a time we will turn this property into a shining example for Sanctuaries everywhere.
What will We do for you? As a sign of thanks for your invaluable help, we are offering some amazing ways to put your stamp on Esther's sanctuary: from your name on our "Founders Club" welcome plaque to naming our animals and the buildings where they live. This sanctuary will be a paradise built by all of us with engraved bricks on the visitor's center patio, or nameplates on a bench or picnic table. We want everyone to know this was a team effort. We'll offer exclusive tours before we open to the public, we'll plant an orchard with a tree marked and mapped so you can visit anytime you want then pick your very own apple to feed our animal friends. Want to hear more of our story? We have a non fiction book in progress with one of the worlds largest publishers, and you'll be among the first to get a copy when it hits the shelves. We'll even sign it, and so will Esther! What about the chance to see us run a 5km race for the cause of your choice...in our underwear! Even something many thought was impossible, convince us to get married after 14 years together. We'll fly you and a quest out to the sanctuary from anywhere in the world, and you will officiate our wedding and witness our signatures on the marriage certificate. What better way to celebrate the opening of our sanctuary, and lifelong commitment to Esther and her friends who need us?
Be it $1 or $100,000, every penny gets us closer to our goal but it's not just money, we need to spread the word far and wide. Come check us out at www.estherthewonderpig.com or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. We'll also needs all hands on deck when we take possession of the farm. Can you swing a hammer, dig a hole, or know your way around a tractor? We need you too. Stay tuned, or get in touch with us via our website if you want to lend a hand. We're taking on the challenge of a lifetime, and we can't do it without you. Change starts with education and an open mind.