Like most things I am drawn to, I read a lot of books, blogs and articles on farm animal sanctuaries once we decided it was something we wanted to do. Once I started reading them, I could not stop! I still read them but now I also get to live them. Most of the stories were about triumph, a few about tragedy, but all of them were about hope. These animals of neglect, abuse or left to die, when given a second chance, learned to trust humans again. Sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes it takes years, it depends on the extend of the horrors they were exposed to. But they all came to forgive and trust again. These stories made me want to experience that kind of trust and unconditional love for myself. To save innocent farm animals from an unhealthy situation, or worse, and give them a loving and nurturing home and see if they could learn to trust again. I received my opportunity when we saved Susie and her foal Gerry, mother and son donkeys.
I had been looking for a guardian animal to protect the sheep that were coming so I was looking for a guardian dog, a donkey or a llama, all good guardian animals. I was striking out and beginning to get concerned even though I had a plan B which would involving herding the sheep into the barn each night and locking them up to keep them safe. That would not be easy, but it was viable. I found a donkey on the internet in need of a forever home in North Carolina but by the time I contacted them the donkey had been rehomed. But they told me there were a couple of mother and foal donkeys at the Asheboro Kill Pen in need of immediate rescue. As I mentioned in my earlier blog, the kill pen is where equines are taken to be sold to slaughter for meat. You can only buy them during a very short window, from the time they are brought to the kill pen until the trucks show up to take them to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. It is during this time that you can offer the seller the same amount of money they would get to sell them to be slaughtered. This is a per pound amount, and it varies by which country they are going to be slaughtered in. By the time I discussed this with my wife Tara, one of the mothers and foals had thankfully been rescued. We stepped in and saved the other pair. I then arranged to have them picked up and boarded until our transportation lady could bring them to us. I was forewarned that these animals could be in rough shape, either physically or mentally or both. On Monday, February 10th the trailer showed up with mother Susie and baby boy Gerry, our new residence. From what I understood, Susie and Gerry had been taken from their home, transported to the kill pen, were in the kill pen for week in not so nice conditions, then transported to boarding for three days and then finally transported 3 hours to our place. All of this happened over a week period! I have never been a mother, but I have been a parent and the thought of going through all of that with a baby is something that seems horrifying. And yet, Susie was a gentle soul allowing a halter to be put on her and lead into her new home without a protest. Baby Gerry followed quickly staying by his mothers’ side. Susie has been the sweetest, calmest animal I have ever been around. This mother that went through hell seemed to know she was home, in a safe place. And Gerry, we watched him go from a shy, timid little boy into a free spirited, slightly mischievous little boy! I am seeing for myself what I had read so much about, animals that had been through horrible events learning to relax, learning to trust again, learning to be free from harm. I get to watch it every day and it is one of the most satisfying experiences I have ever had.