Thursday, August 2, 2012

Martha, My Dear (visit to Farm Sanctuary, part II)

Get your tissues ready. There's some sweetness to come.

When we first arrived at Farm Sanctuary, it was late afternoon on Wednesday. The main office had closed by then, but they'd left a key out for us, so we brought our stuff into the cabin, relieved to finally be there after a six and a half hour drive. 

We stayed at the cabin to the right.

 Touching photos of animals from the farm adorned all the walls. Such a friendly atmosphere. You'll also note that I've learned to walk at vampire-speed. Been meaning to mention that, but it felt like bragging.

I was kicking myself for not taking a picture in the evening when we got there. Now we just look like slobs.
A view of the back of the main people barn and the three cabins.

The cabins are pretty darned cute and spotless and even have a mini-fridge in each one. (I know that's pretty standard, but I couldn't help getting excited.) The bathrooms are in the main "people barn" to the left. Like everything at Farm Sanctuary, they were uber-clean, with very nice-smelling soaps -- non animal-tested, of course -- and great showers.

We took a relaxing walk around the farm admiring all the animals from afar -- tours were over by that time, but you could walk around outside of the barns until 5 -- and then we went out to explore the town of Watkins Glen and find some dinner. (More on all that on the next post!) Then back home to our delightfully cozy cabin, where we went to sleep with the windows open, enjoying the light breeze and the sounds of the megafans keeping the barns cool across the farm.

(If you want to stay here, check this link for more information. Also, you should book early because they fill up pretty fast.)

Breakfast started at 8, but we were up and ready earlier. While Ryan took a shower, I went off to look at the Rainbow Bridge Memorial, which was a ways back behind the cabins.

The walk to Rainbow Bridge. Ryan followed me soon after and said he saw a fox on this path! 

Pretty scenery on the walk over.

Upon turning a corner I saw this:

Beautiful fountain in the garden. Ryan took this shot.

It looks like a normal garden-y type place, but upon closer inspection, you'll notice that each of the flagstones is a tribute to somebody's companion animal. I took many many pictures of them and had a lump in my throat the whole time. The outpouring of love felt like walking into the hallowed ground of other people's happy memories, many of which morphed into my own memories of beloved cats.

One of the favorites was one written to Martha. Being a Beatles fan, I just about lost it when I read the words.

See? Now I'm getting that lump in my throat again. Here are the many other tributes to people's furry and feathered friends.

I'm trying to come up with words to sum this up, but I don't think there are words. Animals come into our lives, we love them, and when they finally leave -- always too soon -- it can leave a bittersweet hole like no other. 

The walk back to breakfast.

But to leave you with a smile, here is one of the resident kitties who greeted us in the main barn as we made our way to the breakfast room.

If you'd like to sponsor me in the Walk for Farm Animals (Boston, September 8) to raise funds for the work of Farm Sanctuary, you can go here or click the badge on the top right part of this page. I'm trying to raise $1,000 and am already at $400, thanks to many generous people out there!

Do you have any tales of animals that touched your heart or any favorite tributes from the memorial pictures above?


  1. I should have taken your advice on the tissue... I'm completely teary-eyed now. What a sweet place to remember animals who have been deeply loved. I think what can be one of the hardest parts about saying goodbye to a companion animal is that there's no socially-constructed way to grieve them. There are no funerals, flowers, cards. Outside of the small family unit, the loss is a solitary one that only those closest can understand. Animals are also so deeply a part of what makes a home a home, that the place never feels the same without them. There's always someone missing. How lovely to have a memorial for them at Farm Sanctuary, a place to go to remember them. Now I'm going to go and grab that tissue...

    1. You bring up such a good point, Cadry, and express it so beautifully. It can indeed be a solitary experience. Man -- I just love the way you wrote that. Perfect.

  2. I love the cute, rustic cabins! I never knew about their memorial garden/fountain -- it's such a beautiful and touching tribute to lost furry loved ones. Thanks so much for sharing these pictures.

    1. The cabins were amazing, Bobbie. I kind of wanted one to take home.

      The memorial is a very special place -- you can feel the love in the air!

  3. Thank you for these posts on Farm Sanctuary; I enjoyed them a lot. I've heard so much about the place and even seen a lot of photos by others, but I've never read such a thorough description of it and what it is like to stay there. It's even more beautiful and moving than I thought it would be.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed them, Renae! (Love the spelling of your name, by the way. I've never seen it that way -- very cool.) You should really take a trip out to one of the sanctuaries if you can. I found it very rejuvenating and quite humbling to be among these animals who, despite past vicious treatment by humans, come to trust again. I hope you get to go!