I've wanted to visit ever since I saw a spotlight on the place on NECN; it showed a peaceful place full of love for the rescued animals that resided there. Located in Norton, MA, Winslow cares for goats, horses, cats, dogs, peacocks, pigs, geese, doves, chickens, turtles, donkeys, lamas, alpacas, sheep, emus---all rescues, often from horrendous conditions. On the NECN feature, classical music played throughout the 16 acre sanctuary. On the day that I visited, the music of choice was Native American flute, encouraging serenity and healing.
|Sturbridge with Goat|
I of course fell in love with just about everyone I met. One of my first encounters was with a sheep named Sturbridge. Friendly and outgoing, he walked along with us on our tour of the farm. A lover of food and lots of it, he asked us a few times about maybe helping him out with some extra goodies. He later got into a scuffle with staff in the cat sanctuary when he tried to help himself to cat food. Hey, the goats were in there with the cats, why not him, too? "Out, Sturbridge!"
But wait...Why were the goats in the cat sanctuary? Well, as it happens, one of the goats was born there before it was a place for cats. He felt comfortable in this little house, so the goat stays.
This is the way it is throughout the Sanctuary: dogs hanging out with peacocks, cats with goats, lamas with geese, horses with emus. And more than amicably. In fact, many cross species friendships develop---for instance, one miniature horse loves the emus and enjoys walking with them side by side. They are quite a couple.
Apparently there is always something new and surprising in the relationships between the residents. At one point we witnessed two doves sitting on the back of a peacock. Just hanging there. At the time we happened to be chatting with Debra, the modern St Francis who built the farm and has cared non-stop for these creatures for 25 years; when this happened between the birds, even she marveled and said she'd never seen that before. A sign of peace and beauty maybe.
|Peacock on goat house|
Not all is peace though. We did happen to witness a comedic duel between two emus. Well, OK, comedic to us, but serious business for the birds! The emus get along throughout the rest of the year, but come summer, watch out! It's mating season, and although there are no females at the farm to fight over, they still intend to keep their toe claws sharp and duke it out over territory. See video of staff breaking up the fisticuffs (no one got hurt!)
Many of the stories are very sad. Like the ones who were nearly starved to death, or beaten, or lost limbs due to abuse or neglect. Some have psychological scars that are difficult to heal. A beautiful white cat named Spirit was left in a cage for 1 year with no room to move. When he was brought to the Sanctuary, he walked in circles for months, not sure how to use open space, not wanting to ever stop walking, not wanting to ever be confined again.
But these are survivors. A motley crew of the Goddess's creatures who got another chance and have taken it. Debra tries to find suitable happy homes for all before taking them into the Sanctuary; in this way she can keep the Sanctuary going for those who can't be placed elsewhere. But really, this is THE place to be for healing if you've got wings or four legs. Pandy the sheep dog, greeted us at the door, ready for action. At 13, she is so well cared for that she still loves the chase a pine-cone over and over to exhaustion.
The staff is all volunteer. The Sanctuary is run on fundraising and donations. They are also funded on admission fees ($7). Consider visiting :
37 Eddy Street
Norton, MA 02766-3513
Norton, MA 02766-3513