A Day on the Farm

The two activities my girlfriend, Lindsay, and I have been looking forward to most since moving back to the east coast are enjoying the autumn and taking little road trips on our weekends off from school. As two New Englanders living in Hawaii for the past few years, we missed the seasonal changes and open roads that you just can’t find on a tiny tropical island in the Pacific. We managed to enjoy a little of each on a recent trip to Maple Farm Sanctuary in Mendon, Mass.


Our Greeting Party

Located about 50 minutes west of Boston, the road to Maple Farm makes for a perfect drive on an autumn afternoon; we took in the reds and yellows of the fall foliage as the city gave way to the suburbs, and eventually opened up into the farms and fields of Worcester County. Among the small farm properties on Mendon’s North Avenue, Maple Farm did not particularly stand out. A cow hanging out in the driveway let us know when we were in the right place. As we walked onto the property, a trio of protective geese greeted us by pecking at Lindsay’s shoes and honking vociferously in our direction. Chickens, ducks, and geese were scattered throughout, calmly ignoring their visitors and enjoying the sunny day. Off to our right, a large enclosure of llamas and goats peacefully munched on some hay. Just beyond them, some cows moseyed about in a large field.


Munchin’. Chillin’. Rollin’ in the grass.

We had managed to get a spot on one of the last tours of the season, and our cheerful tour guide Becky greeted us and told us a little bit about the property. Maple Farm had been a fully-functioning dairy farm for several generations before the current owners, Jim and Cheri, became disenchanted with the compromises that had to be made to keep the farm profitable. Specifically, large amounts of goats needed to be raised to continue producing enough milk to stay in the black. The kids would be sold to local meat vendors. Eventually, the emotional drain of raising animals only to give them away to slaughter was too much, and Jim and Cheri decided to turn the farm into an animal sanctuary. They now devote their property to the care of abused and abandoned animals.


Release the goats!

During our tour, we got to meet all sorts of animals. We met Piggy Smalls, a “teacup” pig whose owner was hoping for a small domestic pet and abandoned him when he grew to be over 150 lbs. We met Cassie, the shy cow who jumped a six-foot fence to escape a slaughterhouse. We also saw Lucky, the miniature horse with a skeletal deformity that requires extra attention. We went into the barn where the sheep and goats wandered among us, happy with the attention the guests lavished upon them with pets and belly rubs. I am no animal expert, but these animals truly seemed at peace.


Piggy Smalls enjoying a belly rub.

I originally thought of my trip to Maple Farm as a nice little travel entry for the BU Law Blog post—something different to do on a weekend. But as I started writing, I realized that Maple Farm is a special place. If you had asked me a few years ago, I don’t think I would have given much thought to an animal sanctuary. I could have thought of a dozen different causes that seem more urgent than taking care of farm animals. But after a few years dating someone with a real love for animals, and after spending our weekends volunteering at the local Humane Society back in Honolulu, I can appreciate the value—and the importance—of people like Cheri and Jim who set up little corners in the world where those that can fend for themselves least can find peace.


Pumpkin, the Goat


In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, I am grateful for people who take a leap of faith to give their time and energy to make the world a better place, whether it is for people or animals. I think about that in the context of our law school experience, and how we will soon have the opportunity to use what we learn here to contribute to the community. Not all of us will be dealing with life-or-death issues. We will be dealing with issues large and small, and some of the issues we spend the most time on may seem trivial to others. Some will make the big bucks at big law, others will forego the paycheck to pursue public interest. Both roads have their merits, but I hope to keep in mind the lesson I was reminded of at Maple Farm—a little good in the world can make a big difference to those who need it most.


A lovely day.


For more information on Maple Farm Sanctuary, visit the website! http://www.maplefarmsanctuary.org

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