If you want to know what love is, all you need to do is spend a few
hours at a very special place called The Gentle Barn. Originally
founded in 1999 by Ellie Laks on a half-acre property in Tarzana,
The Gentle Barn now occupies a six acre paradise in Santa
Clarita. The farm is complete with large horse and cow pastures,
a barnyard for smaller animals, and an organic vegetable garden
which nourishes all the creatures, including the humans.
The 160+ farm animals that reside at The Gentle Barn have all
been rescued from severe abuse, neglect, or abandonment. They
have been rehabilitated with traditional and non-traditional
medicine, top-quality nutrition, and countless hours in the arms
of the very dedicated staff and volunteers. They regain their trust
in humankind by realizing that they are now loved and that their
abuse is over. Because of their ongoing physical and psychological
needs, they cannot be adopted and are given sanctuary at The
Gentle Barn for the rest of their days.
As a child growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family, Ellie would
sneak out the back door of the synagogue during services and
find solace communing with the small animals in the field. In the
prologue of her new book, My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary
Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope, she describes
a moment of finding peace and stillness for the first time as she
lay in the field covered in Monarch butterflies. It was these early
experiences that drove her to create That Gentle Barn. She says,
“What started off as a personal quest for peace and wholeness
has blossomed into something so much bigger than that little girl
covered in butterflies ever could have imagined."
Ellie and her husband, Jay Weiner, are not only passionate about
providing a safe, respectful, loving home for farm animals who are
blind, crippled, deformed, sick, wounded or just plain old; they
are also dedicated to working with at-risk youth to teach them
kindness, compassion and empathy for all living beings. According
to Ellie and Jay, “At The Gentle Barn, we work with children from
the inner-city, group homes, mental health care facilities, foster
homes, and schools to teach them that even though we are all
different on the outside, on the inside we are all the same and are
deserving of the same rights, respects and freedom.”
Support for The Gentle Barn can take several forms.
They are in need of horse groomers and walkers,
cow huggers, Sunday docents, barnyard buddies,
and barn hands.
Memberships, animal sponsorships, and youth
program sponsorships are also wonderful ways to
support their efforts.
The Gentle Barn is open to the public every Sunday from
10am to 2pm for a donation of $10. They are located at
15825 Sierra Highway, Santa Clarita, CA 91390. For more
information and to read some of the resident animals’
stories, visit: Gentlebarn.org.
Zoë Kors is the Managing Editor of LA Yoga, a writer, yogini, certified life coach,
and animal lover. She unexpectedly found her true love at a recent visit to The Gentle Barn
a cow named Buttercup.
TILL THE COWS
The Gentle Barn
BY ZOë KORS