Megan wasn’t feeling well and so had been staying in the house for the previous few days. Cabin fever set in as she missed the outdoors and all that it had to offer: the sunshine, her friends and berries. Mindy and I had become fond of Megan; after all, she was the very first resident to welcome us to Eden. She even gave us a hug after our long travel day.
Mindy and I decided to bring some of the outdoors to her during her convalescence and so we began to pick blackberries, one of her favorite treats. Our activity sparked the interest of other residents and before we knew it, Eden was bustling with excitement!
It seems that we couldn’t go more than a few steps without someone approaching with the air of anticipation of receiving some freshly-picked blackberries. We gave some to Timothy and Dominique and then to Sara and Fitz.
As I handed out blackberries, I noticed some of the shier folks were hanging back a little but were equally as eager. Heidi and her friend Majorie fell into this category. During my stay at Eden I became particularly fond of these two ladies, especially Heidi who was so interested in the opera arias I had sung to her only a couple days before. She seemed to be interested in any song I sang, but opera was her favorite. I tossed them a few blackberries so they would not miss out.
After walking to another area to distribute berries among residents living in another section, I heard distinctive flapping just above me. I quickly looked up and saw Penelope, the pigeon, who no longer lives at Eden but likes to stop by every now and then to say hello. It was always such a treat to see her.
I decided to check on my newly made friends Molly and Pixie and Pixie’s twin boys Richard and Frank. They were relaxing in their home and seemed happy to see me. On my way out I said hello to Justin and his two friends, Niamh and Aoife, who were very glad to have some of the blackberries.
As I walked towards the house I called out to my friend Holly, who can not see anymore but she seems to like her name being called and always answers back. I finally arrived to the house to be greeted by Megan, who wasn’t feeling up to a hug that afternoon, but very much appreciated the fresh berries. We ate them together at the kitchen table.
Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary is exactly as it sounds – beautiful trees, berry bushes, and every shade of green. But this is not what makes Eden special. There are large fields filled with lush grass surrounded by gorgeous countryside and views of neighboring mountains. But this is not what makes Eden special. Eden has a large garden full of fresh vegetables that make their way to the table at lunchtime and get transformed into a delicious meal. Not even this is what makes Eden such a special place.
Eden would not be the sanctuary that it is without the residents. With such a strong focus on individualism at Eden, it is easy to get to know each being who lives there and who welcomed us to their home. Upon seeing us walking down the short trail towards the sanctuary entrance, we saw Breffni, Monica and Mike running up to greet us.
Each chicken had different feather colors and patterns as well as facial features and personalities. They liked different things and ate their meals differently. Some were more curious about us than others.
Walking through Eden and meeting various residents was quite a unique experience! I began to see beyond species and instead see each individual. The phrase “a cat is a chicken is a goat is a goose” came into my mind as I began to realize that the body that carried around each soul was less important than the soul itself.
Every decision that is made at Eden is with the residents in mind. Food, housing, healthcare and well-being are all considered with love and respect. At the same time, with Director Sandra Higgins at the helm, visitors to Eden learn about a compassionate way of living that does not involve the suffering of others. From the psychology of compassion to the philosophy of abolitionist veganism and basic rights of all beings to the practicalities of living a vegan life, visitors leave Eden with an entirely different way of looking at the world and the tools to live within it.