Enter the Peaceable Kingdom
An Interview with Animal Communicator Debra White by Carol Bedrosian
“Very little of the great cruelty shown by men can really be attributed to cruel instinct. Most of it comes from thoughtlessness or inherited habit. The roots of cruelty, therefore, are not so much strong as widespread. But the time must come when inhumanity protected by custom and thoughtlessness will succumb before humanity championed by thought.” — Albert Schweitzer
It’s rare to find a little slice of heaven here on Earth these days amidst so much stress and uncertainty in our lives. More than anything else, it’s probably peace that we crave the most, just being able to slow down, feel safe, and get along with each other in the world.
Many people find their peaceful rhythm more easily through animals than with humans. Animals frequently serve as the primary source of healing, unconditional love and emotional security for millions of people, yet we live in a culture steeped in animal torture, abuse and neglect. It’s not just the pet abuse, animal research or callous handlers that intentionally inflict harm on innocent victims, but the factory farming conditions that condemn billions of animals to lives of tortured enslavement so we can eat inexpensive meat and dairy is the most massive offense of all.
Anyone who eats meat, fish or dairy, but can’t bear to watch the films documenting the abuse of animals farmed for food, is guilty of perpetuating this endless cycle of suffering, myself included. I would never intentionally harm an animal with my own hands, yet I, along with hundreds of millions of otherwise compassionate people, pretend there is no violence in our food choices because meat and dairy is a cultural icon; it’s the American Way. Even loaded with pound packing, artery clogging by-products, antibiotic overkill and e-coli contamination (don’t forget that heavy dose of do-unto-others karmic justice), cheese and meat are, ironically, still our favorite comfort foods.
What would happen if we could talk to the animals?
Tormented by the of plight of distressed animals everywhere, animal communicator Debra White opened Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary in 1997 in Norton, Massachusetts, to give sanctuary to abused and abandoned animals needing a permanent home. She built many of the dozens of enchanting and intricately detailed houses and enclosures for the animals with her own two hands. Through many years of loving, devoted service and listening to the animals in her care, Debra has cultivated a peaceable kingdom where intra-species communication and respect have replaced fear and oppression so everyone lives together in harmony. At Winslow Farm, it’s all about the animals.
Debra opened the sanctuary to the public as a way to raise funds to continue caring for so many animals and to help educate children and adult visitors about animal neglect and abuse. She believes a deeper respect for all sentient beings is gained through mutual contact and that the animals also benefit from exposure to a population of good humans they can learn to trust. It’s hard to tell who benefits the most— the children, the adults or the rescued animals. Sit in the courtyard on any afternoon and watch the parents come in with their children who eagerly, but gently, rush to the nearest animals to say hello. You can tell they’ve been here many times before.
Currently, the sanctuary is home to over 100 birds including many exotic species, plus alpacas and llamas, horses and donkeys, goats, sheep and pigs, many, many cats, Wizard, the pug, and an indomitable little mixed-breed dog named Freedom. Stepping through the front gate is like dropping into a busy, noisy little animal hamlet from a real life storybook scene. Amidst flowers and gardens everywhere, honking geese, crowing roosters, clucking hens, quacking ducks paddling in their pond and other assorted snorts, screeches and whinnies fill the air with the magnificent, cacophonous harmony of animals calling out in peaceful trust. An energizing, animated vibration pulsing with the excitement of life is hard to miss here. Perhaps this is what continues to draw the faithful volunteers — some who have come daily for years without pay — to feed, clean and care for the animals and property. It’s more than just a sanctuary for animals.
Carol Bedrosian: The very first time I came here I felt the buzz in the air. I met three or four volunteers on the grounds, really nice young people; they were all teenagers or young twenties.
Debra White: All in tune. Psychic. I always try to foster that part of their being. They “get it” completely at age 15, 16, so you can only imagine what advances they’ll make into spirituality, just being in the flow of the universe and the harmony of everything. It always still brings me to tears.
Carol Bedrosian: I’m feeling a charged sense on the land here. Is that psychic communication between people, between the animals?
Debra White: It’s all one. There’s no difference between me and the tree or me and the animal, me and that piece of wood. It is the vibration of all of it as a flow combined together.
Carol Bedrosian: What are you experiencing with the animals here? What is being communicated?
Debra White: I’m always experiencing what they’re going to do next. I know what frame of mind they’re in, if they’re anxious or just looking for a pat or hungry or wanting a certain snack or wanting to be somewhere.
Carol Bedrosian: How do you know this?
Debra White: It’s all intuitive and observation.
Carol Bedrosian: I saw you patting Howie, the goat, on his hindquarters. Is anything going on there?
Debra White: He needed it. The way it comes to me, I don’t see anything, I just feel it.
Carol Bedrosian: Did you feel anything in response from Howie when you patted him?
Debra White: Oh yeah, he was totally okay. “This is what I needed from you.” And this happens times 200 animals throughout the day. I have to make sure I have people around to take care of the feeding and the cleaning so I can tend to the emotional side of the animals.
Carol Bedrosian: Some of these animals were neglected or abused so I would imagine that they have emotional pain. Is this something that’s been communicated to you? (On silent command, Debra rises and walks twenty feet over to the front door of the house to let dogs Freedom and Wizard out into the courtyard to join us.)
I was especially touched by Freedom the last time I was here. She was sitting right here on the ground soaking up the sun and you told me her story, which is a sad, sad story. What is your connection with Freedom?
Debra White: Even though her story is sad, animals live in the moment. I feel we attach too many human qualities to animals. Dogs live in the moment; they forget their past. We remember their past. They want to go forward and they can repel forward like rockets but we hold them back. I’m guilty of it still; I think of her in the box. I start feeling bad thinking back, which is normal. But they’re not thinking of that anymore; they really are not. If they feel safe, it’s almost instant change.
But if I were to pick up a stick or a broom, say, then they’ll associate something bad with it if they’ve been whacked. At that very moment, me picking up the broom will trigger their memory and they refer back to that. But they rebound much quicker than a human being would because we attach to everything. They’re lucky enough not to have those attachments to the negative side and hold onto things like people do.
That’s been my observation because everything is so instantly perfect when [new animals] come in. I have no issues, ever. A proof to that is I have an 800-pound pig in the back, which is huge like a hippopotamus. To bring in another little pig and hope that it would be okay in the same area, it’s a big risk to take if it doesn’t work. But then I started thinking, “Hold on. I’m attaching something negative as a human being. Why wouldn’t it work, because the statistics here have told me that everything works out, so why wouldn’t this work with the pigs?”
Sure as shooting, I took awhile with her, just in case, because he’s a big boy. I didn’t let them be together for four months, which was a big deal for me because it’s usually within an hour that I’ll let everyone together, even a horse in a new environment. Or a new goat. But because I know they are big animals that could be hurtful and what could happen…so I should have trusted myself sooner. But it all worked out so it’s all perfect.
I can tell because I’m in sync through observation in doing this for so many years, what’s right, what’s wrong to get animals together. Just the intuition alone tells me that animals need to be on a schedule. They need to know they can count on being fed at a certain time and let out. Everything’s clockwork here. We’re all on this amazing odyssey together. But this could become a jail cell to everyone if it fell into the wrong hands, which scares me because I’m not going to last forever.
Carol Bedrosian: What kind of hands are the right ones?
Debra White: The ones that remain steadfast to the animals’ schedules. And allowing a lot of freedom, leaving the species together to intermingle with each other. Watch it, correct it. If something should go wrong, you correct it. It’s just so quick to correct and then everything’s okay. For instance, a lot of people wouldn’t let their peacocks out of big enclosures to roam, or geese or ducks for that matter. I like to give the animals opportunity, to allow the freedom and then correct things when they’re out. By not holding back, it’s amazing just how many animals can be free within the compound and have it all work.
Carol Bedrosian: So that’s why I’m feeling the peaceable kingdom vibe here. This is wonderful. But I find it odd that this freedom happens within the rigidity of schedules. Isn’t freedom doing things as you please? What is it about a schedule that allows for cooperation?
Debra White: Because they know the schedule, which makes it easier for me. I’ve sacrificed my own time for all the animals to make this huge compound work as one unit. I open up the barn doors at 4:15 — not 4:16 — 4:15 on the dot. I’m very tough on the volunteers here; they need to learn it. The animals are always first and that’s what makes everything work, too. People are second here, animals are first. This is their sanctuary. This is what I do, this is why I’m open. Then even my staff start to pick up on that and they say, okay, she really means business here. We need to pay attention to what’s going on. The schedule is important, they know timelines, the animals do to the minute.
Carol Bedrosian: When did you realize that you communicated with animals?
Debra White: Very young. I was born and raised in a log cabin right next door, a few acres over. My father was a genius inventor for Texas Instruments, but when I was three he developed Parkinson’s disease and subsequently had six brain operations while I was growing up. So, I basically was his hands. He didn’t speak because the operations took his voice away. I also learned to pay attention much more to body language, whispers and energy levels through my father because I had to deal with him in a whole different way than I would deal with my mother. So I had to pay attention to a different way of communicating, which worked to my advantage in the end.
Because of my Dad being sick, we were in hospitals all the time throughout my childhood so my pets became my friends. I really delved into my pets for companionship, love, all that. And I said as I was growing up that I would always give back to animals because they were everything for me — my mother, my father, everything — so I said that I would always be there for them. So this is in a much bigger way, a much larger scale.
Carol Bedrosian: How did the sanctuary come about?
Debra White: I was really tuned in to nature growing up and I saw my grandmother who owned all this land sacrifice to keep it, to pay taxes on it. She was one little old lady that lived on twenty-four acres here, however my father lost it all due to his illness. It was just one nightmare after another, but all the nightmares turned into happily ever afters.
Carol Bedrosian: You were able to acquire the land back?
Debra White: One acre by one acre, I bought every single acre back.
Carol Bedrosian: And was your hope and vision to have a sanctuary?
Debra White: Not at the time. But it developed in my late twenties. So, I’m just hoping that people coming through will gain a different respect for animals. They’ll see what they’ve been eating and maybe change that outlook a little bit.
Carol Bedrosian: What are your thoughts on eating meat?
Debra White: I was a meat eater growing up. I didn’t know any better until I watched all the factory farming videos. When I saw that, I was in deep, deep mourning. I don’t even know how I survived living after seeing the videos. There’s something inbred that touches me deeply for animals in distress. There’s no getting around it because I’ve always acted on it. After I saw the factory farm videos I was not even able to go into a grocery store. That’s how badly it affected me. I felt overwhelmed that there was nothing I could do to stop it on a mass scale. Nothing! Then even people were disgusting to me. I didn’t even want to live in this world. I became seriously depressed. I needed to be doing something with nature and animals. Then the thoughts [for the sanctuary] started coming.
Carol Bedrosian: The houses and shelters and enclosures you have built here for these animals are simply gorgeous! Do you think the children or the adults who come here enjoy it more?
Debra White: I think it’s both. The adults really love the peace and the fact that you can interact with the animals. You can go right in with them and a lot of people walk away saying I’ll never eat a turkey again or a chicken or whatever. It does have an impact.
Carol Bedrosian: Do some people that come here disturb the peace?
Debra White: There’s always getaways. For every animal here, there is always a place to leave if they don’t want to be interacted with, like the geese or the chicken with toddlers walking behind them. I want everything to work, so there’s little spaces in every fence area that all these little animals or big animals know where to go if they’re done with it. The animals can be with a person if they want to be or not; they simply walk away but no one realizes it. It’s all about the animals, not the people.
Carol Bedrosian: What have you learned from the animals?
Debra White: That they grieve, that they do have emotions. They have daily rituals where they know what time to meet each other. For instance a group of chickens will gravitate to one area of the farm to see other chickens and over time I realized they were deliberately doing this. It’s crazy just how sophisticated the animals are when you’re in it and observe. And then you feel that much worse for all the animals that don’t have the freedom that they have or the good conditions to thrive under.
I took a turkey and a rooster to a vet last night and they’re going to have serious operations on their feet so that they’re more able to walk. They were rescued from a place where they were kept in dirty conditions so they get a fungus infection in their feet that is incredibly painful.
Howie the goat can’t walk. He walks on his knees, very rarely stands up, so he’s on sand. Sand is good and he has thick fatigue mats to lay on at night. So he’s been able to live three years like this, where somewhere else they would have put him down, because it’s an awful lot of work. He urinates and defecates and he doesn’t walk away from it, so he constantly needs to be cleaned and needs to get out and be rotated. I’ll take the time to do that. And what have I learned? They ask very little and they’re very loyal.
This leading goose here is 37 years old (pointing to 3 honking geese walking by in a line.) He was blind for three or four years and I never thought to ask the universe, “Please bring back his sight.” One day I asked and the very next day that goose put his head in a round circle to get some food and I said, “God, can it be that he can see?” He had his sight back! A lot of miracles happen here.
The other reason why I built this sanctuary is, how beautiful would it be, like back in the fifties, you had a piece of land and you had a few pets, how nice that is, how beautiful that is for children growing up. There’d be more space for goats and sheep and horses. Have a pet or two, always have a pair. How nice is that for children to go outside instead of being on video games. Go out and walk with sheep on trails or something. That would be the ideal. And we could care for them.
Carol Bedrosian: Do you receive communication from animals outside the sanctuary?
Debra White: There was a problem with coyotes about thirteen years ago with the cats. When I realized what was going on, they had been missing one by one for about two weeks. Then I saw a coyote and it hit me. Some men heard wind that the coyotes were killing my cats and next thing I knew I saw them walking in with traps, chains, guns and blah blah blah. I asked what they were doing and they said, “We’re gonna’ catch these coyotes.” I said, “First of all, that’s against the law. Second of all, I’ll deal with this on my own terms. You guys can leave.”
Three days later two coyotes came up to the back of my fence line. I was right there face-to-face. I silently said to them, “We’re going to live in harmony here. You’re not going to take any animals here. You need to find another route to go.” I spent a long time staring at them, about twenty minutes I would say, just being there with them. I told them I sent bullets away, I sent everything away and I’m going to trust that we’re going to do this together. I may have said that I would put dog food out there or something, too, at that time, and nothing ever happened after that.
And I’ll always tell that story to anybody who asks me about coyotes. I simply asked them, but you have to have faith in what you ask. You really have to touch their souls. Touch them through their eyes, whatever, and really feel it. It’s not going to be “Shoo, shoo!” You need to get into their souls.
Carol Bedrosian: Have you had experiences of danger with an animal?
Debra White: Yes, I had a blind horse in the barn that really got into trouble. A tubular gate slipped and he got caught in it and no one was here. And I said to him, “Mooney, we have to deal with this together. You’ve got to really trust me here.” And he was huge.
I asked him not to panic because he should have panicked, really, he should have. And I got him out of it. Don’t ask me how, but I got him out of it all. It was horrifying what happened with the fence up near his knees and everything.
Then I got flipped by my eight-hundred pound pig, thrown up in the air five feet by accident. I was in the barn and he came in and didn’t realize that I was in there and he got startled, and I didn’t know he was coming and I got startled. What happened was he did an about-face and I was right there and he ran right straight through me. And I went up and then down and I was paralyzed. I couldn’t get up. I had a bucket of food in my hand and I said, “He’s going to eat me.” But then I said, “No he’s not. Why would he? He’s not going to eat me.” But he was so concerned for me. He didn’t eat any of the food that fell, which is absolutely crazy because when you throw food down to a pig, they’re going to eat every little morsel and you. So, that was miraculous, but yet not, when I think about it all. I had to yell for a carpenter on the land to get me. He actually had to pick me up and I thought I was paralyzed, but after about half an hour I was able to take a step at a time. He never left my side and he never looked down at that food. He knew something was wrong.
Carol Bedrosian: Do you have any favorite animal here?
Debra White: I have to say I don’t. I love them all equally. Isn’t that unbelievable? I really love them all. They all read each other’s energy.
Carol Bedrosian: Why do you think they live in harmony here?
Debra White: Because they’re respected. They have a nice place to live and they feel no fear. They feel no fear at all. For them to be standing so close to us, so peaceful….I feel he’s listening now, the thirty-seven year old goose who’s not blind.
Why do they all live in harmony? Because as they come in they are not sensing any distress from anywhere on the property. And so the people that come in, the visitors, they absorb a little bit of that harmony as well and contribute back to it with the animals and maybe learn a little more respect themselves.
Debra White feels blessed to call herself a shepherd to over 200 beautiful animals that have presented themselves for sanctuary at Winslow Animal Farm in Norton, MA. The sanctuary is open seven days a week, as well as for special children’s and family events and seasonal gatherings. For information contact (508) 285-6451 or visit www.winslowfarm.com.