My Gentle Barn by Ellie Laks
Prior to leaving for my trip to North Carolina, I went to the local Barnes & Noble to look for reading material. (Most of my books I get at thrift stores, but I love me some Barnes & Noble now and then.)
I also looooove books about animals and animal welfare, as long as it's not too heavy on descriptions of cruelty, because that makes me sob, and when I'm done sobbing, I always get a throbbing headache.
Anyway, My Gentle Barn: I looked this over and first decided against it. (Why I don't quite remember, because this kind of stuff is right up my alley.) Then after wandering B&N for over an hour - which is a short amount of time for me -- something told me 'You gonna wanna read that.' So I went looking for it again, and bought it, along with A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True, which I haven't picked up since I got back from NC, and one other book, the title of which escapes me at the moment.
Ellie Laks, the author of My Gentle Barn, also the founder of the farm animal sanctuary by that name, grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home where she was the odd one out, an after-thought in a family that valued its sons more highly. Like a lot of kids who have low status in the family and/or who are living in a chaotic environment, her heart was animals. There are several heart-breaking instances recounted on how indifferent her parents were to animals.
"They're only animals." (A day is coming where we'll never hear that again, I pray.)
Fortunately for the approximately 170 cows, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, and other residents of the Gentle Barn, Ms. Laks was able to turn her heart-break into action, against what I would call considerable odds, one of which included overcoming a crack addiction.
What's most interesting in the book is how everything comes together for her and her work, no matter how insurmountable the barriers seem, time and time again.
The story of the Gentle Barn proves, I believe, that God DOES love his animals and is more than willing to help those who share that love bring blessing to the the lives of these innocent, beautiful creatures.