Souls Without a Voice


Published:

All my life I’ve loved animals. My journey through life twisted and altered that love as it does with so many other people. My husband, Jim, also went through his life loving animals. He, too, had to adjust his love and life. Jim is a third generation dairy farmer. This is a brief introduction about our journey toward true compassion and veganism, rescuing a few precious farmed animals and teaching others about what happens to these souls without a voice. This is a multi-layered, complicated issue but I will attempt to keep this relatively simple.

When I was very young, I wanted to be first a physician, and then a veterinarian. Unfortunately I was growing up in a time when I was told women don’t pursue those careers. So after attending a liberal arts college I made a very naïve decision to work for a pharmaceutical company in Connecticut. Not really knowing exactly what I would be doing once hired, my goal was simply to help animals. Sadly, there were no animal rights groups to educate me or to take me by the shoulders and shake some sense into me back in those days!habibiSM

I became an autopsy room and histology technician. The animals still stare back at me through the veil of time. Faces of large, brown-eyed beagles looking into mine as I gently slid the needle into their veins. At least what I was doing caused no pain. I was ending their ordeal but I always felt sick about all of the lives I was betraying: dogs, cats, monkeys, rats, mice and pigs. I had to disconnect my heart from my intellect in order to function.

I occasionally asked why so many animals had to be killed and I was always told it was for the betterment of mankind. After four years I no longer felt mankind was worth all the suffering I was a part of.

I thought I was making a better choice when I got a job with the new, local aquarium. I was the lab technician, aquarist (cared for the many large fish tanks, cleaned exhibits and fed the fish), assisted the resident veterinarian with marine mammal care and autopsies, and swam and slept with many marine mammals to help them acclimate to their new captive environment.

But here I learned how mammals that were used to swimming hundreds of miles in a day or two were suddenly limited to a huge, chlorinated swimming pool. They were trained to do unnatural behaviors every hour, every day. When they didn’t want to do those behaviors, they were punished by the withholding of rewards and attention.

If a harsher punishment was needed, the dolphin would be placed in solitary. Eventually some of these highly intelligent animals would make a final high jump out of the water aiming for the cement stage and land on it. The next day we would come into work to find a precious dolphin dead from massive hemorrhage. After witnessing how disposable these sentient beings were and realizing how useless I was to attempt any kind of correction, I quit.

All those years while I was learning about and witnessing the various forms of animal abuse, my future husband was working hard on the family farm milking and caring for cows, delivering calves, harvesting thousands of bales of hay every year and getting it into the barn, delivering milk and, somehow, sleeping once in a while.

cheriSMPart of bovine care on a dairy farm is the practice of keeping track of each cow’s heat cycle. Jim would watch each of his cows for the signs they were coming into heat. Most dairy farmers have a catalog of bulls whose semen has been “harvested” and frozen for future sale. Jim would select an appropriate bull and call one of the technicians whose role was to bring that selected semen and place it into the cow. A volunteer who now helps us on the sanctuary put it best when describing this practice of impregnating a cow: Rape. The poor cow has no say in the matter and nothing about this ordeal is normal.

In order for a cow to make milk, she must have a calf every year. When that calf is born, it is removed as quickly as possible and if it’s lucky, will have some of its mother’s colostrum so it will have a healthy immune system. If not, the calf is most likely going straight to slaughter for pet food. The heifers (baby female calves) are kept if they have a good possibility of becoming good milkers. The others — male or female — might go for a veal operation.

Jim grew up in this environment and certainly felt it was the normal thing to do. But, like so many of us, he also loved animals. If we try using today’s new criteria for humane farming, Jim was a humane farmer. Problem is, the process is both abnormal and inhumane. Removing a baby from its mother at birth is inhumane for both. Unless a farmer steels his heart, which they all must, the crying of the mother and calf for one another simply breaks your heart.

The normal life span of a cow can be 20 to 25 years, but when we constantly breed, milk and genetically engineer them, their life span normally only reaches between 8 and 10 years. They are most often shipped for slaughter before they are too worn out and can’t stand, so a higher price can be had.

After a few years of breeding and milking the cows, delivering the milk, growing, harvesting and putting up the hay, Jim had to start letting some things go. Jim and I met around that time when he was just getting rid of his milkers. I could see it saddened him; he was attached. But as I had heard many times before and later from Jim, that’s the way it has to be if we want to have milk to drink and cheese to eat.goatgirlSM

But, wait…out of all of the mammals on Earth that lactate and breast feed their young, how many of them continue to drink milk their whole life? Mankind breeds cows, horses, cats, dogs and on and on and those animals are weaned to finally end up eating the food appropriate for that breed. Why does mankind have this need to drink milk, and not just milk, but milk from another species, his whole life? Well, that’s a whole other discussion.

I was working at Digital and had a few dairy goats at home when I met Jim. As we grew to love one another we discussed the issues of farming animals and how so many have to die for mankind to have all of their animal products: milk, cheese, gelatin (for jello and similar products), rennet for making cheese (taken from the stomach of a dead calf), leather and more, all for the benefit of mankind.

Then we talked about the goats I was milking. I began with only a few does but as the herd grew for milk production and the goat cheese I made, so did the baby goat numbers. I wanted them to go to loving homes, like a dog or a cat would, but Jim reminded me that if I wanted to make milk and cheese this was a part of the business.

At the same time both he and I were witnessing the birth of these precious baby goats and the desire of the mothers to love their babies. When Jim milked cows he didn’t have to have much contact with the calves. They were born, he’d call the livestock dealer who would come and pick them up, and Jim would get a check in the mail.

bentleySMWith our baby goats I would very often help deliver the babies because there were sometimes dystocias (any abnormal presentation of the baby). I would put the baby in front of the mother while I checked for another baby — they often have twins…or more — and I’d let the baby suckle to get its colostrum, but ultimately had to remove the baby(s) so we could have the milk to sell.

Jim and I would bottle feed the babies, give them their shots, nurse them back to health if they got sick and then customers would come buy them “on the hoof” for their Easter meals or picnics. I would look into our baby goats’ eyes and see that I had abandoned them. They looked at me and cried out, “maamaa.” They were so horribly frightened and Jim and I did nothing. It was tearing us both up emotionally.

One day as we stood by the goat barn gate listening to yet another baby goat being driven away, hog-tied, in the trunk of a car, crying and crying. Jim and I looked at one another with tears in our eyes and said we could no longer do this. It wasn’t right. But, what were we going to do? This was how we made money to pay the bills.

This was the moment of our evolution. We made the decision not to farm animals. We made the decision to not eat animals. Finally, we made the decision to not drink milk or eat cheese or buy leather.

We had help from PETA finding a sanctuary that could take half of our goats to ease the financial burden. Then we had help from Casey and Jason in Pennsylvania who, at that time, had a sanctuary called OhhMahNee. Even though I knew the goats were going where they would have a life and be loved, I still cried and felt as if I were losing them.jimcheriSM

Finally, we decided to become Maple Farm Sanctuary, a lifelong home for abused, abandoned and unwanted farm animals in Mendon, MA, promoting veganism and respect for all life through education. A third generation dairy farm was now going to nurture, not torture, animals.

Cheri VanderSluis, along with her husband Jim, is the founder and caretaker of Maple Farm Sanctuary and its animals in Mendon, MA. Please visit www.maplefarmsanctuary.org to learn about farm tours, events, volunteering and the animals. MFS is also featured in an award-winning documentary “Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home”, a riveting story of awakening and healing. To learn more visit www.peaceablekingdomfilm.org/

Related Articles
Why I Am A Vegetarian
Veganism in a Nutshell
Animals Deserve The Golden Rule Treatment

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

April 29, 2017

The morning pace is fast from the start. The Gemini Moon is in an effervescent angle with Mercury. Because the winged messenger of the Gods is still retrograde it’s an opportune day to review papers, return calls, discard unnecessary clutter and follow…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

April 2017

Reiki Level I is an introduction to the basic principles of traditional Usui Reiki. The skills learned help you develop more fully your human potential by activating your healing hands to...

Cost: $125

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

2 hours of amazing healing. Join us for an hour of Yoga Nidra (with relaxing music) — known as yogic sleep — a meditation and conscious relaxation practice that is intended to induce...

Cost: $50

Where:
YOUnity Yoga & Wellness
189 Main Street
4th floor
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Telephone: 508-478-3333
Website »

More information

April 21 - 23 Level I & II in Boston, MA. For information and registration visit www.marconics.com. 4/21: Friday 6 - 9 pm 4/22: Saturday 9:30 am - 4:30 pm; 6:30 - 9:30 pm 4/23: Sunday...

Where:
Embassy Suites
207 Porter Street
Boston, MA
View map »


Telephone: 617-366-6042
Website »

More information

Hatha yoga classes are held on Sunday mornings from 10 - 11 am in the Function Room at the Village at Waterman Lake. These classes are mixed levels and open to the public. Please register at...

Cost: $12

Where:
Village at Waterman Lake
715 Putnam Pike
Greenville, RI  02828
View map »


Sponsor: The Yoga Workshop
Telephone: 401-261-1060
Contact Name: Barbara Fetta
Website »

More information

Sunday Reiki treatments with Reiki master and practitioner Linda Simons in Brookline, MA. Start your week off on a more balanced note with a Reiki treatment on a Sunday afternoon. Please join me...

Cost: Sliding Scale $20-$40

Where:
233 Harvard Street
Suite 36
Brookline, MA  02446
View map »


Telephone: 617-304-2205
Contact Name: LInda Simons
Website »

More information

Spend a quiet, relaxing meditative afternoon drawing structured patterns that create beautiful images. Focus on being in the present moment and let go of the outcome. No experience necessary....

Cost: $20

Where:
HeartSong Spiritual Wellness
23 Pine Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Website »

More information

Prayer for Peace — Lao-Tse If there is to be peace in the world, There must be peace in the nations. If there is to be peace in the nations, There must be peace in the cities. If...

Cost: Donation / heart offering

Where:
HeartSong Spiritual Wellness
23 Pine Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Sponsor: HeartSong Spiritual Wellness Center
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

We do not discuss technology. This is a non-technical meeting. Hello everybody, This is a group for anyone interested in finding healing solutions to chronic diseases using big data. We do...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cambridge Innovation Center
1 Broadway
Cambridge, MA  02142
View map »


Sponsor: TeddycanHeal.Com
Telephone: 617-395-8864
Contact Name: Ray
Website »

More information

Qigong is an amazing practice for health, healing and inspiration. Qigong is a series of flowing and repeated movements, stretches and breathing exercises that are very easy to learn and may be...

Cost: Drop in $20 or purchase series card

Where:
The Yoga Depot
17 Depot Square
Lexington, MA  02420
View map »


Sponsor: BodyWork Revolution
Telephone: 781-372-1000
Contact Name: Steve Cunningham
Website »

More information

Start your week on a positive note! Each Monday, we will come together to discuss meditation techniques followed by the opportunity to put those techniques into practice with a goal of developing a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Telephone: 508-230-3680
Website »

More information

Feeling stuck in some area of your life? Learn how to shift your energy to support your intuition, relationships, life direction. Release what is holding you back — live and act from your...

Cost: $100 each class plus book /CDs

Where:
Gracepoint Holistic Health
382 Boston Turnpike
Suite 203B
Shrewsbury, MA  01545
View map »


Sponsor: Gracepoint Holistic Health
Telephone: 508-868-2168
Contact Name: Diane Burns
Website »

More information

4 Workshops, each on a Monday starting April 24 and ending May 15. Strong Core/Balanced Body with certified health fitness coach Jean Gillis Join us for this low-impact class for all ages and...

Cost: $20 for 1 or $65 for all

Where:
YOUnity Yoga & Wellness
189 Main Street
4th floor
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Telephone: 508-478-3333
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

What exactly is a zentangle? If you haven’t heard of them before, the name can sound a little funny! A zentangle is a “patterned” drawing made through the use of intricate and...

Cost: $35

Where:
YOUnity Yoga & Wellness
189 Main Street
4th floor
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Telephone: 508-478-3333
Website »

More information

ONE-OF-A-KIND, LIFE CHANGING HOLISTIC HEALTH EDUCATION PROGRAM BEING OFFERED FREE OF CHARGE Local business owner creates groundbreaking mind-body-spirit instruction to combat obesity epidemic...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center (Sponsored by Harmony Way)
45 Post Office Park
#4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

April 26 - 29 Healing Trauma and Installing Boundaries. With Judith Swack, PhD. Learn how to heal PTSD. HBLU™ integrates the best of biomedical science, psychology, spirituality,...

Where:
56 Pickering Street
Needham, MA
View map »


Sponsor: HBLU™, Inc.
Telephone: (781) 444-6940
Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Join Anne Lafleur for this practical and open-ended exploration of how to approach life and other people with more love, honesty, and joy. She will bring questions and new ideas that are alive...

Cost: Free. Donations welcomed.

Where:
Open Spirit
39 Edwards Street
Susan Dickerman Building
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Open Spirit
Telephone: 508-877-8162
Website »

More information

Let's connect to the deck... Do you have the desire to understand and get a deeper sense of your readings? Learn how to read for yourself and others. Clear your cards, enhance your...

Cost: $30

Where:
YOUnity Yoga & Wellness
189 Main Street
4th floor
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Telephone: 508-478-3333
Website »

More information

Weekly yoga classes with Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN of Harmony Way on Wednesdays at 12:15 PM and Fridays at 9:30 AM at the Wilbraham Senior Center. Class welcomes all ages and uses a...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Brookhaven Hospice is looking for alternative therapy volunteers (Reiki, massage, aromatherapy, and more) to volunteer with patients in various cities around MA and NH. Trainings to become a...

Cost: Free

Where:
, MA

More information

A Reiki Share is a gathering of Reiki practitioners who congregate for a combination social/healing session. The primary purpose of having a "share" is for practitioners to participate in...

Cost: $10

Where:
Open Doors
395 Washington Street
Braintree, MA  02170
View map »


Sponsor: Leslie Miller Jewett
Telephone: (857) 526-3301
Contact Name: Leslie Miller Jewett
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

April 28 - 30, 2017 Promoting Natural Health, Wellness, Mindfulness And Empowering Lasting Change Festival for Change is a free outdoor festival, and Powermastery Empowerment Retreat is an...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saratoga Spa State Park & Gideon Putnam Resort
24 Gideon Putnam Road
Victoria Pool & Gideon Putnam Resort
Saratoga Springs, NY  12866
View map »


Sponsor: City of Saratoga Springs
Telephone: 347-974-1312
Contact Name: Carson Tang
Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Get to really know yourself from the inside out. Join us for a 6-session series focused on the energy body/chakras (pronounced, chah-krahz). We will spend each of the sessions exploring one of the...

Cost: $20

Where:
HeartSong Spiritual Wellness Center
23 Pine Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Sponsor: HeartSong Spiritual Wellness Center
Website »

More information

Join us for a one-of-a-kind GNO for yoga, dance and sake. That's right! Ignite your Friday evening with a super fun yoga/dance class with black light. We will then head to Sawa for Apres Yoga...

Cost: $45

Where:
Union Street Yoga
25 Union Street
3rd Floor - Studio A
Worcester, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Union Street Yoga
Telephone: 617-548-1933
Contact Name: Bonnie
Website »

More information

Weekly yoga classes with Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN of Harmony Way on Wednesdays at 12:15 PM and Fridays at 9:30 AM at the Wilbraham Senior Center. Class welcomes all ages and uses a...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN
Website »

More information

Lectures/classes are generally between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours. If you must leave before the video ends, that is okay. Video presentations will be facilitated by varied ashram members and...

Cost: $5 donation is suggested

Where:
Yoga At The Ashram
368 Village Street
Millis, MA  02054
View map »


Sponsor: Yoga At The Ashram
Telephone: 508-376-4525
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Set your own 15 minute to 1 hour presentation for free! Spring is (almost) around the corner! On April 29th, 2017, join leaders in Eastern philosophy and practice together at Eastover on World...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East Street
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Sponsor: Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

Free admission. Sponsored by the Canton Spiritualist Church. Psychics, mediums, readings for a fee. Free healings.

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Hills
Route 138 and Blue River Road
Canton, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Canton Spiritualist Church
Telephone: (617) 469-2568
Website »

More information

One World…One Breath The last Saturday of April each year in 100's of cities, spanning over 80 nations, people come together to breath together and provide a healing vision for our...

Cost: Free

Where:
Central Mass YWCA
1 Salem Square
Worcester, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Kung Fu & Tai Chi Academy of New England
Telephone: 774-321-6611
Contact Name: Sifu Gary Lachapelle
Website »

More information

Step out of your chaos into your joy Event by: Michelle Cordani of Pure Intentions Event highlights: ✓ Gentle stretching and yoga ✓ Ball rolling for tension and myofascial release (roll...

Cost: $159

Where:
YOUnity Yoga & Wellness
189 Main Street
4th floor
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

On April 29, the People's Climate March will bring together hundreds of thousands of people from across the country to demand jobs, justice and real climate solutions. Here in Boston, we'll...

Cost: Free

Where:
Boston Common
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA  02133
View map »


Website »

More information

Spend the afternoon feeling peace, serenity and fun. Get a card reading, chair massage and hang out at the mindful drawing and coloring table. Includes light refreshments, card reading, chair...

Cost: $30 in advance; $40 at the door

Where:
HeartSong Spiritual Wellness
23 Pine Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Sponsor: HeartSong Spiritual Wellness Center
Website »

More information

Special program of the month! The Time Is Now! Empower the Self, Connect to Source Art and live exhibit: 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm (drop in any time) Evening program: 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm Talk:...

Cost: Free

Where:
InnerSpace Meditation Center And Gallery
1110 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA  02138
View map »


Telephone: 617-547-1110
Website »

More information

Start a seven-month program at Women of Wisdom with Nancy Smith, author of best selling book Divine Love Affair, An Akashic Journey. Explore the mystery of your soul, past lives, soul contracts,...

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Nancy Smith
Website »

More information

April 29 - 30, 2017 Chinese Astrology (four pillars/eight characters, more commonly know as the Ba Zi) is one of the oldest systems of astrology, and has been an integral part of Chinese...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East Street
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Sponsor: Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

April 29 - 30 Alchemy is both a philosophical and scientific tradition, initially practiced throughout Europe, Egypt, Asia and India. At its core it attempts to discover the relationship between...

Cost: $250-$300

Where:
Wildwood Retreat Center
5 Wildwood Rd
Sherborn, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags