Posted on Apr 26, 2018
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
Jay and I spent a very productive week at our Gentle Barn Missouri location. We let our new turkeys outside for the first time, we took the tags out of The St Louis Six’ ears, and we caught a feral sheep and brought him home. It’s amazing how fast the week went, but we left with a big sense of accomplishment.
A few months ago we brought home some stray turkeys who after months of searching, were unclaimed and became part of our family. Through the winter we kept them warm and dry in our barn along with the chickens, goats, and pigs, but now that it’s becoming sunnier, we trimmed their flight feathers so they wouldn’t hop our fence, and let them outside. They loved it! They stretched out their wings in the sun, dust bathed, searched for seeds and bugs, and nibbled on sweet blades of grass. They are so affectionate and kind to our guests, and it was wonderful to watch them enjoy themselves as part of our family.
It has been a year since The St Louis Six ran for their lives and came home to The Gentle Barn. They quickly learned to trust and softened. Eventually, the only remnants of their past were their ear tags. But we didn’t want to force the cows to hold still to remove the ear tags, that would have undone all the trust we worked so patiently to build. So instead, we waited and gave them time to be ready and hold still so that we could remove the ear tags easily and gently. This week we stood quietly next to Chico and his brothers, scratched their necks, rubbed their backs, and quickly removed their tags. The boys seemed unfazed, but we all were very emotional about it and wept openly. This is the day we work so diligently for: the day where our rescued animals are no longer numbers, no longer objects, no longer imprisoned in fear; they are completely free!
For the last three years, there has been a feral sheep running wild and living on his own. The animal loving community tried many times to catch him, to no avail. A few months ago he came to our attention, and we implemented a plan to bring him home to The Gentle Barn. Our staff set up a feeding station where we brought him food and water every morning. Once he came to rely on that, we built a fence around the feeding station. Once inside, we closed the door, and we were able to catch him. It was a long-term plan that paid off as he is now safe, warm, and dry in our barn. We dewormed him already and had volunteers and staff sitting with him every day. Once he trusts us and the weather turns, we’ll be sheering him and introducing him to our other animals. And then we’ll get to give him the life most animals dream of, and all animals deserve.
Most of us imagine freedom to mean unrestricted options, running without fences, or living without any responsibility. Our new sheep lived on about twenty unfenced acres of woods for three years and could go wherever and do whatever he wanted. But he was constantly on the look out, consumed with fear, and shrouded with loneliness. At The Gentle Barn, in the confines of pastures and bedded stalls, our rescued animals let go of their pasts, recover from their trauma, and find the ultimate freedom from worry, fear, suffering, and loneliness. They are free to be exactly who they are, to behave as they choose, to love who they want, and to be loved forever more. Thank you for enabling us to set these babies free and bring them home!