I was trying to think of something fun my university-aged daughter and I could do together. Since we both love animals, I thought it would be nice to volunteer helping animals. I found the perfect place—Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary. We had both heard the story of Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter and their lovely pig Esther, who they had adopted as a tiny piglet. We were thrilled to discover the sanctuary was literally 15 minutes away from our house. We both applied and were accepted as regular volunteers.
Though Esther is the namesake of the sanctuary, there are many beautiful, rescued animals living here. Pigs, goats, sheep, bunnies (I was lucky to spend most of my time in Bunny Town with these adorable little ones) cows, a horse, a donkey, and many birds, including a turkey named Dolly.
You may have heard of Cornelius, the turkey who shares Derek and Steve’s house along with Esther and Phil, their energetic and full of love, dog. But Dolly was the other turkey. Sadly, Dolly has since passed, but I am so grateful I had the chance to know her. She was beautiful—soft white feathers and dark eyes. She was very gentle and most surprising, trusting of humans, despite being raised to be slaughtered as food.
Dolly would let me pat her silky feathers and she stayed close when I cleaned out her pen, sometimes softly cooing. One of the most heartwarming relationships at the sanctuary was the bond between Dolly and Nancy, a chicken. These two were always together. If one was milling about outside the barn, so was the other. It must have been such a devastating loss for Nancy when Dolly passed.
I am so grateful I had the opportunity to meet Dolly and get to know her, along with many of the other residents. This is one of the great things about Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary—it offers people the chance to really see these animals and learn about them. It is such a thrill to witness a mom pig feeding her babies, to see goats and sheep hanging out together, and to see a friendship between a chicken and a turkey.
With American Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, I give thanks to places like Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary, who not only rescue farm animals and give them a chance to heal, love and be loved, but gives humans a chance to see all of this, and hopefully appreciate the beauty of farm animals. Perhaps this holiday season, some of you will visit an animal sanctuary and this experience will translate to more kindness in the world for all, including farm animals.
To find out more about Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary, including making a donation, volunteering, or visiting the farm, please check out their website—