Did you know that a male turkey’s head will change colors– when they are feeling happy it is a blue-ish milky white and if they are angry or upset it becomes bright red? Did you know you can hold a turkey and whisper to it and it will fall asleep in your lap?? Did you know that chickens also like to be cuddled??? I had NO idea but I learned all these fun facts at The Gentle Barn!
I have been waiting so long to visit The Gentle Barn ever since I saw it on The Ellen Show (click on the link to watch) and I finally got to go on Sunday!
The Gentle Barn, if you have not heard of them, is a sanctuary for abused and neglected animals. Their mission is “to rescue, rehabilitate and give sanctuary to abused animals. Through the interaction with our animals people learn reverence for all life.” They also bring in children from the inner-city, group homes, mental health care facilities, foster homes, and schools to work with the animals. It’s a wonderful relationship where these animals who were once in tough situations are able to help these children who may be in tough situations of their own. Ellie, the founder of The Gentle Barn is so inspiring– I don’t know her personally, but I love her and all that she has done and continues to do! The Gentle Barn is a great place of healing and understanding. The animals and the staff and volunteers there are a symbol of hope, trust, love, and learning to live and coexist together peacefully.
Each animal at The Gentle Barn has their own past, their own stories. All are victims of abuse whether it comes from the hand of an individual, the cruel and harsh methods of factory farming, by being genetically altered, or being used as subjects at agricultural schools. They are a few of the millions of animals that are hurt, beaten, mutilated, sexually exploited, ripped away from their families, and ultimately killed every daily as a result of being used by humans for human profit. Some of them have completely recovered both physically and emotionally, while some still have a ways to go.
(My favorite part of the picture is the little boy with the stuffed cow looking at them =)
The Gentle Barn has saved so many lives and is the home to horses, cows, donkey, goats, turkeys, chickens, pigs, dogs, even llamas and a peacock! The great thing about TGB is how up close and personal you can get! You are encouraged to hug a cow, to rub a pig’s belly, to pet a turkey. It’s a great way to introduce children to animals and show them how wonderful they are!
The Gentle Barn welcomes visitors from 10AM to 2PM on Sundays. We arrived a little before noon and it was packed! There is parking inside the grounds as well as along the perimeter. We got in line, signed waiver forms being passed along, and waited to be wristband-ed and make our donation ($10 is suggested– it all goes to support what they do!) to get in. It was pretty warm that day and there is no shade at the entrance so I recommend sunglasses and a hat, none of which we had. But it was OK, I was content standing there and looking at the cow enclosure and excited I would soon be in there hugging a cow!
Once we entered, we were allowed to go to the cow and horse enclosures and had access to the picnic tables and benches. Presentations by Ellie are made every hour at the top of a hill next to the barnyard area. If the presentation is full when you arrive, which is what happened to us, you can have some lunch or hang out with the cows and horses. They have delicious vegan pizza, popcorn, cupcakes, and beverages, and you are also welcome to pack and bring your own vegan-friendly picnic out of respect for the animals which I love! We had the pizza (thumbs up) and brushed Faith and Buttercup, visited with the horses and Addison the donkey, and read the various stories posted around the barn.
Buttercup is a lovely and friendly tan colored cow who arrived at the barn after being rescued from a backyard butcher. Buttercup lost a baby of her own because her previous owner provided no prenatal care, but she does a beautiful job adopting all the calves that come to the barn, many rescued from becoming veal.
I was really excited as we sat down under a canopy to hear Ellie speak! It’s amazing what she has done and continues to do for animals, and to be in her presence is pretty awesome to me. It was great to hear her personal story as well as more about the barn and the animals. I think she does a great job of making the presentation kid-friendly and interesting while conveying wonderful information and teaching everyone how to interact with the animals. There are also fliers at the end of the presentation for people interested in a plant-based diet- yay!
After the presentation you are allowed to roam in the barnyard where the animals are hanging out! Some are friendly and will want to be pet /interaction, while others like their space. There are volunteers and staff making sure things are going smoothly and can answer any questions you may have. My favorite part is learning about each animal and their stories. Although they come from a difficult past, it is comforting to know they will never be harmed again. If you want to learn more about the residents here, you can visit the Virtual Barn Tour on their website to meet every single animal that has and still calls The Gentle Barn home!
I wish and hope everyone will have a chance to visit the barn and look into the eyes of each of these living beings and see them for who they are– not a piece of meat or a machine to pump out food, but a gentle cow who wants to be with her mother, a turkey who likes companionship and wants to be cuddled, or a pig who just wants his belly scratched. They all want to be with their families, they all want to be happy, and they all want to live– very much like you and I.
If the way these animals are being treated doesn’t sit right with you, there are plenty of things you can do to help them! You can adopt a plant based diet which helps animals and the Earth, you can donate to The Gentle Barn to support what they do or sponsor an animal or group of children, you can research more about factory farming, and you can help be a voice for those that cannot speak using words.
The Gentle Barn shows what cruelty and harm humans can cause animals, but it also shows the compassion and love humans can also bring to them. Regardless of what our diets are, I hope we can all agree that if we don’t need to bring unnecessary harm to others, we shouldn’t, and that we choose to bring compassion and love to other living creatures we share this world with. We can find a way to coexist where all living beings can exercise their right to live, be happy, and be free.
“The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.” -Hippocrates
All images were taken at The Gentle Barn. For more information please visit their website or becomes friends on Facebook.