We were on holiday recently and fortunate to be able to do so in rural France.  Village after cobblestoned village were interspersed with vineyards and olive groves. Seven foot dry stone walls encircled most houses, weekly markets moved from town to town and all of them were connected by the narrowest, most twisting roads.  Of course, even in September the tourists were everywhere, in numbers that spoke to their now essential contribution to local economies.

One morning, though, about halfway through our walking trip, I realized that seldom had we seen or heard any animals other than humans in this supposedly rural environment. And all of a sudden, these absenses were glaring, somewhat unsettling because the reality was so counter to expectations.. In a two and a half week period I did not see or hear a single cow, chicken, horse, donkey, sheep or goat.  (I did glimpse a few cats, scurrying along village lanes and then there was the occasional dog, always on a leash, tightly under control)

By the time the trip was nearing its end I found myself to be yearning for the Sanctuary and its animal residents.  The first morning back, as I walked from field to paddock to barn yard, the differences in the environment were almost palpable: less-hurried movements, grunts and sighs everywhere from donkeys and mules as they consumed their morning hay and smells all around of the earth, manure, fading fields and grasses.

In no time at all, I fear that rural environments which we have always taken for granted, will be found only in model farms and sanctuaries.  We humans had better watch out because some day soon we might wake up and find that we are alone.

Sandra Pady, Founder



  1. Losing all the animals would be terrible….they ground us and make most of us better people…as long as we are smart enough to listen!

    In my younger days, one of my happiest times (even when life had taken a downturn) was tucking in the horses, ponies and of course Alexandra the donkey on a cold winter night making sure they were cosy, warm and well fed in the stable, and of course..making them know they were well loved. Cindy Crank



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