Posted on Apr 05, 2018
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
April marks the anniversary of several exciting memories and events at The Gentle Barn, and I cannot help but think about them as I move through my day. A year ago, we embarked on a turkey road trip from California to Tennessee, saved the lives of six cows who had escaped a slaughterhouse in Missouri, and several years ago we saved over sixty animals from a severe cruelty case. We are continually moving forward, saving animals and working with people to heal their scars and connect them to gentleness, but every once in a while, I like to look back and see how far we have come.
Last Spring, we had a few female turkeys in California who were fighting with each other. We kept them separate, offering them rotating turns in the yard, but it wasn’t ideal. When we realized that we did not have a cuddle turkey in Tennessee, we decided to drive our most wonderful turkey, Adeline to Knoxville to be the superstar she wanted to be. But we didn’t just drive her; we made an event out of it. We shared it on social media and brought Adeline to the Grand Canyon, The Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, and to meetups in each state. It was so much fun walking her into a crowd of people that were there just to cuddle Adeline and take pictures with her. My most treasured memories were sharing snacks with Adeline in the car, watching her greet her fans like a real celebrity, and tucking her into bed each night, on her dog bed in the hotel, with a kiss on the head. Because of that trip and through sharing the affection, intelligence, and personality of Adeline, we opened thousands of hearts to a plant-based diet and a deeper connection with animals. It was by far one of the best weeks of my life, and I think about it often.
Jay and I love working together, both bringing our own skill sets to every situation, and living this dream together, but sometimes we need to divide and conquer. While I was traveling with Adeline, Jay jumped on a plane to St. Louis to save The St. Louis Six, get them to the hospital to be treated, and then to a foster home to figure out next steps. Exhausted and alone Jay was the hero who pulled the six cows out of the jaws of death and ultimately to their happily ever after. Jay thought he went there to save the cows’ lives and get them somewhere safe, little did we know that was the start of the third Gentle Barn in Missouri! I cannot believe it was a year ago already, but then again, the once terrified cows are now full-fledged ambassadors allowing guests to pet and hug them. They have already changed the world so much!
Six years ago in April, we ended a four-year investigation of a cruelty case that was causing hundreds of animals to suffer. When the perpetrator was sent to jail, animal control brought us all the surviving animals; sixty in total. We brought in mostly goats and sheep, but there were several cows, a horse, and a cat. The animals were more dead than alive, and we set to the task of resuscitating them. With the tremendous help of Sun Chlorella who built our healing center and donated all the products that we needed to boost their immune systems, several months later the animals healed and are now living wonderful lives at the Gentle Barn. At that time, we had never rescued that many animals at one time. It was so overwhelming to hear that many animals coughing and sneezing at the same time, take that many temperatures each morning, and treat that many animals with medications and treatments; it was an all-day job, that went on for months. Many of the animals were pregnant, so a few months later there were many births. Once the animals were healthy it took many more months to get them to trust us and show them that they were safe. It was a rescue that took years, but once we were done we ended up with some of the sweetest angels on earth who delighted us with their funny antics and opened thousands of hearts to the miracle of these angels wrapped in fur and fluff.
With every rescue, with every recovery, with every turkey that climbs in our laps, every goat who plays for the first time, every chicken who falls asleep in our arms, every cow who allows us to hug them, and every person who comes to visit and falls in love, we arrive closer to a gentle world. A gentle world whose only purpose with chickens is to hold them, with turkeys is to cuddle with them, with cows is to hug them, and with pigs is to give them tummy rubs. A world where our bodies are healthy, our forests grow tall, our waters are clean, and our communities are filled with love and connections. We will get there in our lifetime, I feel it in every fiber of my being, and the animals in these memories are helping it happen! We march forward, but once in a while, we must savor the victories!