This past Wednesday, a few lucky kids from school had the pleasure of a field trip to The Gentle Barn. The Gentle Barn was founded in 1999 by Ellie Laks. This had been a dream of hers since she was seven years old. Like most of us animal lovers, she knew that each creature had a special healing power that could help all of us through rough times. She now uses this ability to help at-risk youth, kids with special needs and many others in learning how to identify with the animals. Many of these animals have come from abusive and neglectful backgrounds so this can help children see that things can change for the better.
Once a week, my daughter joins about 15 other kids in a Food, Inc class. They watch the movie and then discuss a lifestyle of veganism, vegetarianism, or, if a carnivore, how to choose wisely the meat you eat. This class ( I found out), is quite the talk amongst some parents. One mother even said, "Oh, you're part of the Vegan Agenda?"
I wasn't exactly sure what to say since not once had my daughter come home to tell me that the teacher pressured them, or scolded them, or guilted them into becoming a vegan. (The teacher, by the way, is a vegan.) For us, this was a day to spend with animals. Lots of animals!! Chickens, horses, goats, pigs, sheep, a couple of dogs and some cows.
Have you ever hugged a cow? Well, now she has!
This is Buttercup. Her story is tragic and painful but, once recovered, she became mom to all of the orphaned babies that are rescued. Although we didn't see it, I hear that she'll even give you a big sloppy kiss.
I strongly encourage you to go to Gentle Barn's website and read every page of this amazing place. It's hard to write about it when all I want to do is copy and paste every word from their site. They put it way better than I ever could! And their book is out March 25, 2014!
Now, lets get down to some introductions:
This is Caesar. A movie horse for 15 years, he was "trained with a heavy hand." Because the trainers expected perfection, Caesar eventually shut down. The Gentle Barn spent three years healing him and now he is the leader of the herd. A pure, handsome gentlemen.
Sir Lancelot has the LAPD and the LA Animal Control officers to thank for saving his life. Found underweight and lame, they called The Gentle Barn just before he was to be euthanized. I think he looks very happy to have his life saved.
Addison was my favorite. Who knew I would EVER fall in love with a donkey! He was beaten by his owner because of her stubborn ways. Once taken from his abuser, he learned that he no longer was forced to do things he didn't want to do and now only lives for a head scratch.
Monty was a trail horse for 20 years. His mom willed him to Gentle Barn when she passed away from cancer.
I think he likes carrots.
Okay, below are two of the funniest pigs I have ever seen… not that I've seen many. The pink pig is Biscuit. He was saved on his way to the slaughter. Now he enjoys belly rubs on all 1000 lbs. of him!
The pig in the water (the bright green water) is Jellie. He and his sister, Jazz, were rescued from an abusive petting zoo when they were babies.
Mufasa's bio is funny to me. He's a total stud.
Rescued from a backyard butcher, Sassy is so grateful that she kind of acts like a puppy. Loving on your face, cuddling with you and insistent on being pet. Sounds like a dog I know.
Sir Fancy Pants hasn't quite adjusted to having people touch him yet but he's okay with you being around. He demands you tell him how beautiful he is every second and if you don't, he'll let you know.
Last, but certainly not least, Luna. She is not an "animal" at Gentle Barn. She actually works there. She arrives with her hard working dad early in the morning and does a full days work. And when Dad has a day off, she insists that he take her to work anyway. If he doesn't, she will find her own way there. When I found her, she was on a break. Full zen state.
Thank you, Michelle (our wonderful, patient guide) and everyone at Gentle Barn. It was a day we will not soon forget!