Hugs are for Horses & Cuddles are for Cows

Several years ago, my best friend Becky left smoggy Southern California for beautiful Tennessee. She packed up her husband, my two godchildren and a truck load of comic books and headed for Memphis and I haven’t seen her since. Engulfed in nursing school, and now working as a full time prenatal health educator, she hasn’t had enough time or money to plan a trip back here just yet. But fortunately, thanks to her husband working at this year’s California “Comic-Con”, her daughter Hayden was able to come along for the ride & visit me =)

I knew I only had one day with Hayden so I had to plan something SUPER fun! Within a few minutes I thought of the perfect place for a perfect day! A trip to The Gentle Barn!
Vegans generally love to spend time with animals, but we’re not too fond of petting zoos. In fact, we’re more likely to be found protesting them than being patrons. The animals are usually treated very poorly and then discarded as business slows down each winter. Unlike petting zoos, The Gentle Barn is a nonprofit that provides a safe haven and place of recovery for abused farm animals. They’re home to over 120 rescued animals and they host at-risk, inner-city and special needs kids. Many of the animals here were previously abandoned in the desert, crammed into veal crates, or thrown out like trash after being classroom projects. Back when I was a high school health teacher, I used to take students here to spend a peaceful day in the country and to “meet” their meat. For many, it was life changing; a first encounter with unconditional love and respect.

Weather permitting, every Sunday from 10am to 2pm the public can groom the horses, brush the cows, hold the chickens, give the pigs tummy rubs, hug the goats and sheep & hypnotize the emu. It’s really delightful! We packed a nice picnic of “tofurky” sandwiches, chips, cherry tomatoes and fresh fruit and ate under shady trees overlooking the horses. It was fantastic! Now if only I could get Becky out here to join us…