For those who don't know, I live in Ontario, land of farming and road work and politics and an indecent amount of sugary food. And for those just stopping in for the first time: my name's Jess and I'm a leftie hippie bleeding-heart pre-med. My family has been going to markets and participating in the farm thing since I was basically knee-high; Ontario has a lot of that so it's almost impossible not to. We're not farming people but we certainly like to pretend we are.
Earlier this year, the OLG (Ontario's gambling regulation board) decided to end the agreement that allows slots at Ontario racetracks. Because so much of a racetrack's revenue is brought in via gambling-- whether it's at the slots or betting on the race-- almost all of the province's 20-someodd racetracks are looking at having to cut down their racing capacity, or in some cases, close the track entirely (which happened most notably in Fort Erie this past April).
The slots closing is bad for a number of different reasons which I won't even attempt to summarize, but the reason I'm going to be talking about is the horses.
The farm industry in Ontario is bad right now. If you own a racehorse and there's nowhere for you to make use of it and bring in money for yourself, and horseracing is your primary source of income, which it generally is if you're in the racing business, you cannot afford to maintain your racing horses right now in Ontario.
This isn't just a racehorse thing. Owning a horse is damn expensive, even just for a casual, non-competitive rider, even if people are paying you to ride your horse, even if you own a stable and rent out stalls. Livestock auctions in Ontario have swelled massively because so many people can't afford to take care of their animals anymore. Some of the horses sent to auction are absolutely beautiful racehorses; others are emaciated foals, pregnant mares, and sick geldings who've all but been shoved at the auction house just to make a few hundred dollars off them. Horse auctions happen by the pound: bidding starts anywhere from 10 to 30 cents per pound, depending on the size of the horse, and goes up from there. The average price for a thousand-pound horse is currently around $300, which is ridiculous.
I live about an hour away from one of the province's most popular auctions, the Ontario Livestock Exchange (or OLEX), which takes place in St. Jacob's, our biggest farmer's market. On the last Saturday of every month, the OLEX runs a horse auction. This is sort of confusing, because if you go to St. Jacob's on a Tuesday in the middle of August, you can watch and bid on horse auctions. Which, you know. What?
The horse market has become oversaturated. Horse owners no longer have the money to take care of their horses, and no one wants to buy them. Every week-- every single week since the beginning of the year-- dozens of horses are brought to the OLEX, all of them covered in mud, some so underfed you can count their ribs.
These horses are not being purchased by riders. They're being sold for their meat.
Here is where I get to my point. Owning a horse in southern Ontario, largely due to the abundance of farmland, costs about $5000 per year, which includes vet bills, feeding, tack, stall rent, and about an extra $500 buffer for anything else that comes up.
Next summer, I'm buying a slaughter horse.
My family is financially well-off and is willing to support me-- so long as I can come up with the money for about the first two years of ownership. I have about $3500 in savings, and will probably make about $2000 more working during the year. But that only covers half of what I need, never mind the initial cost.
I am asking for bleeding heart donations. This is a slaughter rescue; the horse I end up with may be sick, injured, or mentally unsound. Many of the horses who come out of auctions are filthy and emaciated. I am not PETA: there is a horse meat market in Quebec, but it's carefully regulated,
I want to save one horse. One is literally all I can do-- I've already found time to tend to it and discussed reasonable boarding options with local stables, and the only thing I'm lacking is the money. I have experience in rescues, and I have people in my life who are extremely willing to lend a hand when it comes to rehabilitation and general animal husbandry.
This is in addition to the fact that as a pre-med, I am kind of desperately in need of something to keep close in my life besides school. In December of last year I was diagnosed with severe depression and an anxiety disorder, and the one thing I've found more helpful than anything else is caring for animals. (Since then, my family has adopted a rescue kitten, and I've helped in the rehabilitation of other cats, birds, and god help me, dozens of exotic fish. You have no idea how peaceful sitting in a room surrounded entirely by fishtanks can be some days.)
Disclaimer: with the above in mind, I do not have a lot to give back. At all. My two biggest focuses in life are my own mental health and getting through university with a marketable GPA; in order to make this pursuit even remotely feasible I'm also working in almost every free hour, and if I'm not doing that, I'm doing volunteer work as a surgeon's assistant for medical-field experience. I understand barely anyone has disposable income these days; I understand completely and all I can say is please do not donate unless you feel completely comfortable doing so. That said, please do not feel ashamed to be donating literally whatever you're capable of: I know caffeine withdrawal, I know what it feels like to work until you can barely move and then get up at 5 AM and do it all again. If a dollar is all you can give, if twenty-five cents is all you can give and you feel comfortable doing it, please, please do. (And feel free to email me and tell me about it, too-- I know sometimes it feels good just to be able to say 'I donated those 94 cents to you instead of buying a coffee this morning and I really needed that caffeine'. Seriously, I get it.)
WITH THAT IN MIND, however. If your donation is big for you-- I won't define what big is, 'big' is entirely dependent on what you have, and YOU know what it is, not me-- email me or message me or whatever your preferred method of communication is, and ask me for something in return. Things I can provide:
- stories. I tell a lot of stories; I'll write an original story for you if you'd like, or a fannish thing if that's your jam.
- art. Sort of! THERE IS NO QUALITY GUARANTEE HERE. I can do sketches, doodles, sort of vaguely interesting paintings, I DON'T KNOW. You can check under my art tag for examples.
- other artsy things. I make graphics! Icons, banners, pictures with stupid gamma editing, random graphic crap, WHATEVER. I can and will make giant batches of graphics for certain media if that's what you're interested in. I also make batches of colour palettes for coding websites/drawing things/whatever it is you do with your colour palettes if you're interested in that, too.
- baked goods. This is sort of limited to people who live within express shipping distance, since I'm pretty sure you don't want month-old cookies. HOWEVER, I am a decent cook and specialize in desserts and pastries; if you give me an idea of what you want, I'll come up with a recipe (and tailor it to your allergies/food needs!), bake it and ship it to you, as well as provide you with the recipe. If you have no clue what you want, I also have some standby favourites like carrot cake cookies and marbled cream cheese brownies and stuff like that.
- loose-leaf tea mixes. I have literally a collection of hundreds of loose-leaf teas. One of my hobbies is combining them to make fun new tastes. Give me an idea of what sort of tea you're into and I'll ship it to you either in a double-sealed ziploc baggie or in a tin!
- literally whatever other feasible request you can come up with. Seriously, I'm flexible.
SIDENOTE FOR THE MASS EFFECT COMMUNITY: I own all three games on the PC and am kind of a compulsive modder; ergo, if you're interested, I can offer recordings of custom playthroughs. Ever wanted to see Legion saving the galaxy? Can do. Wanted to know what it'd be like if Javik and Liara ever made out? Got it. Renegade Grunt with femShep's voice busting a move in Afterlife? Shit, son, it's covered.
My Paypal is jessicafredo (at) live (dot) ca. Please, please spread this around if you get the chance. If you have any questions at all, email me at that same address, or drop me a comment here.