My Huffington Post Essay: “How to Kiss a Cow, And Other Lessons I Learned at Asha Sanctuary”

My Huffington Post Essay: “How to Kiss a Cow, And Other Lessons I Learned at Asha Sanctuary”

June 6, 2017
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Cradled in the lush countryside of Newfane, New York, is a small barn. Unassuming and barely visible from Coomer Road, one could easily drive right on by without seeing it and splash into Lake Ontario a few miles straight ahead in one direction or Niagara Falls the other way.

Roughly the size of a spacious living room, the barn—reminiscent of humble, Shaker perfection—sets back beyond a manicured sea of grass and small orchard. Immediately to the left and behind are pastures framed with wooden rail fences. To the right, a stream flows and echoes. All hugged by picture-perfect groves of trees and fields, humming with fresh breezes and a choir of more than two-dozen types of songbirds.

This barn is the heart of Asha Sanctuary—a 27-acre farmed animal sanctuary and educational center, founded in 2013.

I arrived on a late Friday afternoon, invited for the weekend by Founder and President Tracy Murphy to guest-host and emcee the annual “Kiss A Cow Day!” event. The fundraiser draws hundreds of guests from the region and beyond, to have fun and to learn.

From the very beginning, my visit was a refresher course on how all life is precious.

As Tracy slid apart the two front doors of the barn, I recalled a favorite children’s book I once had. It was about a farm full of animals—cows, pigs, sheep, horses, turkeys, chickens—who all hopped into an old-fashioned sleigh one night and went for a midnight ride. I often dreamed of what it would be like to be tucked in among them: warm and cozy, loving and laughing.

Stepping inside the Asha Sanctuary barn, suddenly that children’s book came to life!

I was five again. I was wide-eyed, bubbling with pure excitement and glee.


John Schlimm

John Schlimm is a Harvard-trained educator, advocate, artist, and the award-winning author of 19 books on dogs, memoir, entertaining/cooking, history, how-to, and essays.

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