Posted on Nov 28, 2019
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
With the fires, evacuations, and deep concern for our oldest animals came lack of sleep, missed meals, fatigue, stress, the flu, and in the end, a three day hospital stay; it was the perfect storm. I have a mindset that propels me forward no matter what, and even when I’m not feeling well, I keep problem solving and working. So even when I was dizzy and weak, I continued hosting my groups of children from the inner city. And the next week when I could no longer stand up, I just did my presentations sitting down on our open to the public Sunday. My denial turned into a trip to the Emergency room and was a huge wake up call to take myself and my health more seriously. So now I’m eating fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains full of iron and nutrients, resting and getting stronger each day.
Even though it is medically logical why I fell ill, I have an entirely different theory as to why I was knocked to my knees this month. I believe that we are all connected. I believe that we feel each other’s pain, seen or unseen. I think that what happens to others happens to all of us; your sorrow is my sorrow. I believe subconsciously we feel the Earths destruction, each specie’s extinction, and the horrors that face animals around us. We feel violence just as we do peace, evil as we do pure divine energy. And when there is injustice and suffering, we feel that too. So, the more intuitive I become, the more open my heart, the more I meditate and evolve, the more I feel from those that surround me and the more I suffer. This month billions of innocent turkeys were slaughtered, and I think their fear, terror, and cries for help all helped to create pain in my soul and illness in my body.
The more I fall in love with our rescued turkeys, the more intolerant and traumatized I am in the month of November. Over the last twenty years I have had so many love affairs with our turkeys and they have taught me so much. Like the first girl turkey who chirped at me until I sat down to look at her and she crawled into my lap and showed me that they are as affectionate as cats. Or the first male turkey who I showed where he would eat and sleep the first night and went to look for him to show him again the second night because I thought he would not remember, but he was in front of the door waiting for me revealing that turkeys are just as intelligent as dogs. And the weeklong road trip from California to Tennessee with our turkey Adeline changed my life! we explored the Grand Canyon and she looked at the beauty along with all the other tourists. We went to see The Civil Rights Museum where she looked at each display with just as much curiosity as all the human guests. While we drove, Adeline sat in the back seat and looked out the window at the passing terrain, we shared snacks in the car, and we sang songs together. And when we had meetups along the way, she would walk from the car to the middle of the crowd, cuddle and pose for pictures until the very last person had a visit with her. It felt like a cross country trip with my best friend. And when I think of the turkeys being slaughtered in November, I think of them as billions of Adeline’s, with the same intelligence, affection, unique likes and dislikes, and huge personalities. It breaks my heart!
Knowing our turkeys like I do now, it is difficult to remember a time when I didn’t know how amazing they are. Mommy turkeys carry their babies on their backs until they are too big. They have a developed language with hundreds of different sounds meaning different things, like danger, food, or bedtime. Boy turkeys’ heads change colors with their moods, turning whitish blue when relaxed, and bright red when excited. Girl turkeys have pink bumps on their heads and neck like jewelry to look beautiful to other turkeys. And they have dating preferences too! For the last twenty years every tom turkey we’ve had has flirted with women, while being territorial and competitive with men. But our current turkey Romeo gets aggressive with women and flirts with men, following them all around the barnyard. And his favorite music, without exception is Queen! We have two female cuddle turkeys, Sun and Alice, and they both want to be the center of attention, fighting with each other over it. So we have to keep them separate. Our turkey Alice bunks with our pot belly pigs and each night we bring them a bedtime snack while we tuck them in. Alice loves this ritual and she gallops towards me when she sees me coming, gobbling up her share before the piglets catch up. Male turkeys like to show off and live to hear how handsome they are. Female turkeys love to cuddle and when they trust, will climb into our laps, close their eyes, and fall asleep purring. And many a time our cuddle turkeys have brought people to tears at their grace, beauty, and loveliness.
We can all open our hearts right now. We can start healing our bodies today. We can connect with Mother Earth and all her creatures immediately. We can rise above the lies we have been taught. We can awaken from denial. We can fall in love with not just the animals in our own lives, but with all animals everywhere. And we can be peaceful and gentle, and in turn fill the world with more peace and gentleness. Can you imagine if all of us opened to the true love of all creatures, in our diets, in our purchases, and in our actions, and we all cuddled turkeys next year instead of eat them?! We would all feel so happy, healthy, and connected!
I have a thousand reasons to be thankful this year: my loving husband, healthy kids, happy animals, generous donors, loyal volunteers, dedicated staff, committed board of directors, three thriving locations, a successful book, safety from the fires, recovery in my body, fantastic friends, and a life lived on purpose. But I am grateful most of all that I can see clearly, that I can feel everything, and that I am fully and completely awake; even if that means getting sick from the injustice still in the world. I am grateful that I am part of the solution and part of love!