In the last couple of years I have been very involved with Farm Sanctuary. I have interned twice, visited several times and adopted my two beautiful pigs from them. Up until two years ago though, I had never even been there.
The reason Farm Sanctuary has become such a big part of my life is because that first visit was so remarkable. The people there are amazing, of course, but what really made that experience so special was the connection I felt to the residents there. Before that I had never really gotten a chance to interact with farmed animals in that way and when I finally did, it was life-changing.
The first animal I met there was Ms. Foreman. She was a beautiful, black and white cow with a wonderful, friendly personality. Many cows tend to be a bit nervous around humans, but not Ms. Foreman. She let our tour group walk right up to her, and didn't seem to mind as we all started petting and hugging her. I was afraid that so much attention would upset her, so I was gently and cautiously petting her head. Then she stepped forward and began rubbing her face against me. It may not sound like a life-changing event, but it was. I had never felt truly connected to a farmed animal before that and it helped to get me on the path I am on now.
That first visit was during the summer and by the time winter came around I had signed up for an internship. It was a little while into my internship before I saw Ms. Foreman again and, when I did, I couldn't believe it was her. When I had first met her, she had been in the "special needs herd" which is where they kept cows who were sick, injured or aging, but Ms. Foreman hadn't seemed "special needs" when I met her. By the time I saw here again, things had changed dramatically. Over those few months her health had degraded to the point where she could barely walk.
Everyone at the farm loved Ms. Foreman and they tried everything they could to help her recuperate, but no matter what they did she kept losing weight and becoming weaker and weaker. About a month into my internship, she got to the point where she could no longer stand up and they decided that the only thing to do would be to have the vet come and euthanize her. When the vet arrived, we all went to say our goodbyes and, as heartbreaking as it was, we all stayed with her until the end.
The pain that I felt that day as I watched Ms. Foreman take her final breaths helped to solidify my commitment to this cause. As hard as it was to see her go, when I looked at the faces of everyone who was there, I could also see how much she had been loved. All animals deserved to be that loved and I wanted to do everything I could to help that happen.
Thank you Ms. Foreman. We love you and miss you.
* The photo is of the first time I met Ms. Foreman.
Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)