Meet Jen, co-founder of The Surf & Turf Sanctuary, whose love of animals inspired her to transform her cattle ranch into a safe haven for cows, pigs, zebras - you name it! That's music to our ears. Read on to learn about her transformation and meet some of her spunky animal residents!
"We were ranching and one day made the decision that if we were going to continue to consume meat it must be from our own animals," says Jen. "We were a large family doing our best to purchase the highest quality of meat - not only was it expensive, it just didn't make sense. Since we knew our cows' quality of life, it didn't make sense to buy factory farmed or someones 'grass fed' meat from our local grocer. We made the decision to take an older cow we had to slaughter. It was one of the worst days of my husband's life.
"We were grateful for each meal the cow provided us; of course she was always on our minds during those meals. Whether we realized it or not we were suddenly eating less meat... nothing had changed except we now were having to consume one of our own.
"I believe it's easy when you don’t know or have a relationship with an animal to sit down and enjoy a meal. We shared the majority of meat with friends and neighbors. The connection was made and we decided to go meat free. Being a family who thought they could never pass on a filet mignon or a plate of biscuits & sausage gravy, it was easier than we thought. It was the connection between right and wrong and realizing that if we couldn’t do it ourselves why would we purchase meat from animals that had suffered, been abused, and been injected with all sorts of vaccines, growth hormones, and pesticides? For us it just clicked. To this day we can say we have no regrets on that decision. Our health, our conscience, and peace of mind is so much more healthy!"
Jen and her husband have plans to expand their rescue by rehabbing and providing forever homes to as many animals as they can. "That includes all types of critters, ranging from your domestic house dog to the unusual exotics such as a zebra and ostrich," says Jen. "We believe every animal deserves the life it was given, free of suffering, abuse, neglect and unnatural death. The goal is to spread awareness by sharing our own story, as well as sharing the stories of our animals. We enjoy sharing all the unique and special characteristics each animal offers. We want people to know they are someone, not something." They hope that by sharing their experience, others will embrace a kinder way of living.
"More will realize it's not as hard as they think it is to live more compassionately. We are an example of that. If we can transition our livelihood of ranching into a sanctuary for all sorts of animals and go meat & dairy free, anyone can! We encourage everyone to visit their local shelter and/or sanctuary, and consider adopting or becoming a foster."
Here are a few of their sanctuary residents!
"Arlo is our newest house pet! He was adopted from our local shelter. We were told he was one of over 300 puppies brought out of Kansas and placed up for adoption. Being a true terrier he is always on the hunt, very loyal and a super watch dog! Arlo is a loving and energetic pup - he blended in from day one! His days are spent with his adopted doggie family, daily walks to the barn for chores and he can never resist aggravating the chickens or giving the peacock a good scare. He is still young and learning the ropes. Being mischievous is natural, he's just a pup and he'll soon learn where his place is on the very very tall farm totem pole!"
"We rescued Mystery in 2013 from being sold and sent to an exotic hunting ranch. She is a Grants zebra. It has taken awhile to gain her trust. We never push her, we allow her to make the decisions on her own. We aren’t too sure of her background and understand she is 'naturally' a wild animal. She is an amazing watch dog, she is alert and always protective of her pasture family from the occasionally coyote. Mystery has been with our cattle since the day she arrived. She is loyal to the cows and is not much of a fan of horses...her own maternal instincts kick in with every calf born. We call her the Mary Poppins of the pasture, she is so keen, affectionate and always attentive. She always has her eye on any calf and seems to take over when a mama cow is grazing or just enjoying some me time."
Is our youngest barn member. She is an extremely active young Berkshire pig (meat
breed). We rescued Paisley in September from a local livestock auction. She was one of a
litter of piglets along with their mom being auctioned that day. The piglets were being
sold as a 'lot,' meaning you couldn't buy just one, you had to buy them all. Before we
knew it a gentleman had purchased them all. The mom was sold separately from her
babies. We tracked down the gentleman and asked him to please spare one of the piglets and allow us to take one. We managed to come to an agreement and he let us pick one piglet from the group. That would be Paisley! She was so tiny, just a few weeks old. Paisley is just a hoot to have, she is full of life and just so smart. Believe it or not she is just as sweet and snuggly as a puppy. Paisley will grow up to be near 600 lbs, and will live out her life with all her barnyard buddies here at the sanctuary.
"Animals are amazing creatures - we as humans do not give them enough credit. Everyone says to us, 'Wow your animals are so lucky you saved them'.... But no, we are the lucky ones! Every day we are grateful to have such amazing creatures be part of our family and family is what they are."
Thanks, Jen, for sharing your incredible story!
Learn more about The Surf & Turf Sanctuary!
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