Tucked 35 miles southwest of St. Louis is a special spot full of hope and generosity. The Gentle Barn is all about showing unconditional love to farm animals, such as cows, pigs, turkeys, goats and more, all of which have escaped frightful conditions.
Founded in 1999 by Ellie Laks and co-founder Jay Weiner, the organization began in California. Fast forward to 2017, a special moment spurred an opportunity for The Gentle Barn to expand to St. Louis. A group of cows -- dubbed “The St. Louis Six” by endearing locals -- escaped a local slaughterhouse during a thunderstorm, pulling off a great escape. Once captured, the public banded together to fight for their freedom, ultimately landing them at The Gentle Barn.
Today, visitors hoping to unplug and show some TLC to the animals can visit their location in Dittmer on Sundays (only) for a self-led walk around the farm to make friends (tickets must be reserved in advance).
A $20 donation helps provide their caring home, as well as any medical treatments, supplements and special vet attention. Many visitors are struck by the positive and uplifting effect the animals have on their moods. After working on digital devices for many hours each week, personally, this time spent in nature sharing quiet moments with the gentle giants restored my energy and left me feeling so grateful for the volunteers and staff members that keep the barn running. We had the opportunity to hug cows, pet the pigs, spend time with their turkeys and hear about each of their journeys of escape.
For those who can’t make it to the barn in-person, as the season of giving arrives, consider donating virtually in support of the many programs that The Gentle Barn holds.
The Gentle Barn also has locations in California and Tennessee.