The kids had a day off from school today so a group of us took a private tour of The Gentle Barn. The Gentle Barn is an amazing rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary for abused animals. Through interaction with their animals, they teach humans empathy, compassion and kindness for all living things. Our preschoolers and toddlers are a great age for this, though they also work with inner-city youth, foster kids and special needs patients. You get to love on cows, horses, sheep, chickens, goats, llamas, and pigs.
If you are in the least bit cranky, you won’t be after a visit here.
Before letting the kids loose in the barn, our tour guide Michelle talked about body language, and how the animals might express their feelings to us. ”If an animal runs away when we try to pet it, do we chase it?” ”No!” they yelled. (Maybe this lesson will carry through to their dating years, to prevent pursuing emotionally unavailable partners. I know I could’ve used that one.)
On the gentle barn’s website they say, “as [children] learn to understand the animals, they learn to understand a part of themselves.” This is Buttercup. She was pregnant when she was rescued and her baby did not live long. However, when new cows join the barn, she nurtures them as if they were her own.
My dear friend Laura, who made our trip happen. Laura is an animal activist, my #1 emergency contact and the most loving and generous person you’ll ever meet. She also has great taste in tank tops and ripped jeans.
This giant pig was taking a nap when the kids started to get rowdy. A few of us had tried shushing them, when a Gentle Barn employee politely said, “Excuse me, but you’re being very loud and Bodhi is trying to sleep. How would you feel if people came into your room and started yelling while you were trying to take a nap?” The kids got very quiet. You could actually see the empathy register on their faces.
You bring an animal free lunch to The Gentle Barn– easy for us since we only eat fish. I made Pearl a peanut butter sandwich, but she hijacked my falafel. (Which, by the way is awesome and just $3.99 at Trader Joe’s.) Vivi also ditched my sandwich and headed straight to my friend Amanda’s table. Amanda, The Heart Healthy Mom, came with a spread that included vegetarian sushi. What pod people took over my children?
OK, I loved the Gentle Barn the minute we arrived, but as we were leaving I noticed they also have a giant face-in-holes to satisfy my creepy obsession! Sold for life! Ready to make this a yearly tradition. So much fun, and so much better than the zoo.
Thank you Gentle Barn animals (and people) for a beautiful day.