Once upon a time… there lived a mother and her foal. Anyone would expect them to live happily together, frolicking in a field of green, lush grass somewhere because that’s what all horses deserve, along with shelter for warmth and protection from the elements, enough food to fill their bellies, clean fresh water, room to run, and all the love in the world. Instead, Tucker and his mother were skin and bones, neglected and starving.
That was until Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary came to their rescue. Due to extreme abuse and neglect, Tucker’s mother sadly passed away only a week after the rescue. If help would have arrived any later than it did, Tucker would have suffered the same fate as his mother.
The Cotton Branch family of volunteers nursed Tucker back to health. He is now living a life of joy and peace at the sanctuary. Tucker is quite the charmer - he loves to meet new people and seeks attention from all who visit Cotton Branch. But don't let him fool you - he has also become quite the pickpocket, chewing on visitors' clothes and sneaking items from their pockets. (He says it’s his version of “borrowing” and showing affection.)
When my son and I visited the residents at Cotton Branch, Tucker stood at the fence watching our every move until we walked over to greet him.
Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary's work changes the lives of farmed animals like Tucker every day through its rescue and transport efforts, and the exceptional care volunteers give the residents. The Cotton Branch staff also works hard to educate the community about these animals - as they feel the same love, pain, fear and joy as our dog and cat companions.
Become a part of the Cotton Branch family of volunteers today by joining our Volunteer, Action, and Transport Networks! With your help the lives of our residents, and your own, will be changed forever.
Recently I have been on the hunt for compassionate recipes that are good for the planet, my family, and the animals (that also happen to taste fantastic). I have tried many recipes - some good, some terrible, and some that were so good I had experiment and create some variations.
Not too long ago, my dear friend Brittny invited me and my son over to her house for a playdate with her daughter. About an hour into our rendezvous, Brittny offered us a snack: oatmeal.
Now, please don’t click out of this recipe just yet! Most people think of oatmeal as that mush that comes prepackaged, has a bland flavor, and is less than exciting. I would have to agree. I was not a huge fan of oatmeal before Brittny introduced me to her method that makes it one of the most simple, delicious, and easy recipes that my taste buds ever laid eyes on (if my taste buds had eyes that is). Such a simple boring dish instantly becomes a powerhouse of flavor and nutrition if the right ingredients are added. Brittny’s oatmeal was a revolution for me. I went home and instantly started working on my own version of this oatmeal (still using most of the ingredients she uses).
Check out this cruelty-free Power Oaties recipe below! Always remember to help out our animal friends and the planet by choosing to eat kindly!
A slight variation on an original recipe by Brittny Hopwood
-Recipe feeds two people
Rolled oats (1 cup)
Almond milk (1 ½- 2 cups)
Organic maple syrup (1 Tablespoon)
Vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon)
Organic Peanut Butter (1 Tablespoon)
*Maca Root Powder (1/2-1 teaspoon) *optional
*Brown sugar (1 teaspoon)
Cinnamon (1 Tablespoon)
Favorite fruit, e.g. blueberries, bananas, apples (as much as you want!)
-Heat almond milk in a sauce pan on medium heat.
-Add vanilla extract, maca root powder, and maple syrup to almond milk and stir until maca powder is mostly dissolved.
-Heat until mixture first starts to boil and then remove from heat.
-Add rolled oats and stir.
-When the oats become soft from almond milk mixture, add peanut butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir well.
-Pour oatmeal into bowls for serving.
-Add favorite fruit (bananas are a personal favorite).
When Jan Alber-Senn purchased the land that is now Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary, she also rescued a family of goats whose fate was to be sent to market by the previous owner of the property. Those goats became the first official residents of Cotton Branch!
Come to find out, two of the rescued goats were pregnant! Soon after, little Noelle was born! From the beginning, Noelle was full of personality - always gentle, inquisitive and happy. Living alongside her mother Ava (shown above, right) for her first 10 years undoubtedly made a major difference in her life. All animals long to be nurtured by their families. Unfortunately most farmed animals are forcefully taken from their mothers as babies.
Noelle loves meeting new people and receiving affection and attention, so much so that she will actually follow you around the sanctuary (even finding the best opportunities to photobomb pictures).
When my son and I toured Cotton Branch, Noelle was our constant companion as we walked around the farm. I instantly fell in love with her and I know you will too!
Gordy was spending time with his guardian and her dog when a stray dog jumped the fence and attacked them in their own yard. Unfortunately the dog did not survive the attack. Gordy lived, but lost his left ear. His guardian suffered significant injuries to her hands as she tried to fend off the dog and had to undergo multiple surgeries. She subsequently lost her job and her home, leaving her unable to care for Gordy.
Da, Da Da Daaaaa! Cotton Branch to the rescue!
Gordy, a kind and gentle soul and quite a character, now resides contentedly at Cotton Branch where he often follows visitors and begs for a nice, long belly rub. Trust me, you want to meet him!
Thanks to Cotton Branch, Gordy can now live a life of peace and happiness. Donors and volunteers make it possible for the sanctuary to educate the community and rescue, transport, and care for farmed animals like Gordy.
While on my normal monthly trip to Whole Foods, I decided to try something different than the normal Daiya cheese slices. Daiya is a dairy-free cheese that has been on the market for quite some time. Back in the day when vegan cheeses first hit the market (I’m not going to lie here) they weren’t that good. A lot of people state that they could never adopt a compassionate diet because they could never go without cheese. Well, let me tell you: while Daiya is good and all and my son (who eats compassionately like me) is very fond of grilled cheese sandwiches made with it, we decided to expand our palates and try a different dairy-free cheese. Behold, Field Roast’s Coconut Herb Chao Slices!
Field Roast is popular for their line of kind food products, including sausages, deli slices, roasts, cheeses and more, which I have always liked. There is no better way to try out new, dairy-free cheese than to make a grilled cheese sandwich! My son and I went straight home and put this cheese to the test!
Opening the package, the slices were easy to separate and didn’t crumble in your hand like other dairy-free cheeses I know. It smelled delicious and melted just like dairy cheese (melting time/consistency is a concern for some). My son and I split the sandwich and WOW, my mouth was instantly filled with decadent herb flavor with a hint of coconut. It was savory and sweet at the same time, making my taste buds sing (if they could sing it would definitely be opera at this point). It was so good, even my 16 month old son Beau (who thinks throwing his food is hilarious and will throw ANY food given to him) gobbled it up and didn’t miss a crumb! Children, especially toddlers, are the hardest food critics out there. If my son approved it has to be great!
I would definitely give this dairy-free, compassionate cheese a try if I were you! What is even better than its taste is the fact that no animals were harmed in the making and processing of it, which means it's not only good for your family, but good for animals and the environment too!
I have been an animal advocate all my life. When I was little, I could be found in my fort made of throw pillows from the couch, surrounded by all of my stuffed animals with my doctor’s kit in hand. I would then proceed to cut the toe ends of my socks off to make casts for the stuffed animals who came to my office (yes, I was a veterinarian in my mind) with broken bones. This is where my love of non-human animals started, but it is absolutely not where it ended.
I have worked with and for animals as a professional and a volunteer for more than seven years - from dog trainer to humane educator and from volunteer coordinator to fundraiser. I say advocating for animals is working “for” them because I do what I do “for” the animals in order to make the world a better place for them. It’s a huge part of what I want to do with the rest of my life - write on behalf of animals who cannot speak for themselves, live the most compassionate life I can, and raise my son to be the kindest person he can be to all the animals on Earth.
After relocating to Charleston, South Carolina due to my husband’s job, I immediately started searching for ways I could be involved in helping animals. I started fostering rescues from a local shelter but I wanted to do more for those animals who often fall through the cracks: farmed animals. I was quickly introduced to Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary - a safe haven for them. Not only was Cotton Branch a sanctuary for abused, abandoned and neglected farmed animals, but it also offered rescue and transport (whether or not the sanctuary could take them in as a resident) while educating the community about these loving, peaceful creatures. I noticed Cotton Branch had reached out to volunteers in search of a freelance community writer and I knew that I had to respond. A few days later I talked with a board member and planned to make the drive to the sanctuary and meet the residents.
The whole time I was driving the 3 1/2 hours to Cotton Branch, I felt so happy. By the time I got there, my face hurt from smiling. Nevertheless, I continued to smile the entire time I was there visiting with the residents. I was greeted by Jan (the founder & director), Jason (the director of volunteer engagement), and a few volunteers. Everyone was so friendly and warm. Jan proceeded to take me on a tour, introducing me to every animal and telling me their names, characteristics of their personality and their background. She took me on an amazing journey into these animals’ lives and stories; it was as if I had been there with them through all of it. I was overcome with emotion, to the point of tears. The experience was that life-changing.
Visiting Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary was so special for me and my son. My 14 month old son rode on my back in a baby carrier during the entire visit, in awe of all of the farmed animals that he had never seen before. One of the many memorable moments was when Beau first saw Freckles, a magnificent young bull. When Beau made eye contact with him Freckles leaned in for a kiss just as Beau leaned in for one too. It was precious and filled my heart with joy.
Even though Beau is so young, I can tell he makes the connection that animals are our friends and we must treat them with kindness. My family lives a compassionate lifestyle because it is best to our bodies, minds and souls, and is also the kindest option for the animals and for the planet. Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary is peace on Earth for all of its residents, and a magical place for visitors to truly connect with these gorgeous, smart, magnificent beings.
Please consider visiting, volunteering your time, or donating to this wonderful organization that helps so many animals, as well as people. Cotton Branch is truly changing hearts and minds every day through continuous community outreach efforts, resident care, sanctuary tours and rescues. Please continue to follow this blog for Cotton Branch resident biographies, sanctuary updates, kind recipes, hot new cruelty-free product reviews, compassionate lifestyle tips, farmed animal care and facts, and so much more!