This is a review through Blogging for Books. I was not paid, but I was given the book at no charge.
A few months ago I lost two dogs. And not the they-went-wandering-off-into-the-woods kind of Lost. But the oh-shit-they-are-really-sick-and-there’s-nothing-we-can-do kind of lost. And it sucked. Our beautiful, long legged, constantly chewing 15-month old Potcake was coughing one night and four days later we held her in our arms while she struggled to breathe and we said goodbye. Our 11.5 year old Boston Terrier, who had braved months of physical therapy and a slew of medications, stopped walking and eating one day. We knew it was time. He passed just two months and five days after she did. Our hearts broke. Again.
They were loved. As are the rabbits who mow our grass, the birds that hang on our feeders, even the &*&^%$$* chipmunk that lives in our garage/gutters/gardens. So, when I got the opportunity to read a copy of “My Gentle Barn,” in exchange for a review, I jumped at the chance, or rather, clicked. I had seen the Gentle Barn Facebook and while I have never worked on a farm I always greet the cows and horses as we make our way through Western Wisconsin. I love animals. I think they like me.
“My Gentle Barn” was a delight to read. It started a bit slow and I have to admit that although some of Ellie’s childhood stories seemed either unbelievable or exaggerated, it showed Ellie’s personality and character and her deep love and respect for animals. As the book progressed and the barn grew I found myself cheering for Ellie and the animals. As a working mother, I knew the battle she faced trying to do everything, and having a hard time letting go. When her second child is born and she refuses to leave her side, I had mixed feelings of “oh my god, get over it and let her gain some independence” and “I wished I could spend every waking minute with my own child-guilt, but I have to and want to work.” Despite some personality quirks, Ellie comes across as a loving and very patient, educated caregiver.
Read this book. If nothing else, to learn about these animals and more about where our food comes from. Don’t assume that the animals you’re eating were treated well. In fact, there’s a slim chance they were. But if you’re looking for more details on that, there are other books you should read. Read this book to see a dream come true and not just for Ellie, but for the hundreds of animals and people she’s helped, and continue to help.
A couple of weeks ago I found myself at a petting zoo. This wasn’t any petting zoo, as it focused on rehabilitated animals, mostly deer. Some of the animals were in pens (wolves, mountain lions, etc.) but most of the deer were roaming freely, often following us. The goats were behind fences, probably so they didn’t climb on us, as were the miniature horses, llamas and pigs. Have you seen the joy on the face of a five-year-old when I deer walks up and hugs your child? It was this joy that Ellie felt when she hugged her cows.
At the petting zoo I let my daughter ride a pony. Ellie would have disapproved, as she only walks the horses because riding them is degrading. I have to agree, and I haven’t ridden a horse since Girl Scout Camp. But as daughter rode, we asked the pony’s name. Stormy. And we spoke to him. We told him he was very handsome and s