Lenore Braford is founder, volunteer interim Executive Director, and volunteer Shelter Manager at the Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge, located in Pittsboro, North Carolina.
Which makes her (and the sanctuary) my neighbor!
I visited the Refuge while leading the November 2019 Sick to Fit Retreat with Josh LaJaunie, and we were all struck by the wild and proud spirits of the animals who have been given their “forever home” by Lenore and Paul and the staff and board and volunteers.
Since there are billions of farm animals living and dying in misery every year, obviously a single Refuge can't solve that problem. But by turning the animals who have been rescued and rehabilitated into “ambassadors,” animal sanctuaries across the world are changing hearts and minds about the ethics of eating animals.
When the meat you eat is a commodity, packaged and uniform on the supermarket shelf, it's easy to feel fine about your consumption.
When you've made friends with a turkey, who has now become in your mind a “person” with his own personality and preferences and quirks and fears and desires, you have to think twice about the origin of the flesh on your plate.
When you hear the story of the goat Sweet Mama, who escaped from a livestock auction to give birth and and bond with and raise her children after having been impregnated and forcibly separated from her babies at least seven times before, and witness Ace and Ivy living and playing and loving at the Refuge thanks to their mother's courage and determination, you can't lather up with goats' milk soap without acknowledging your complicity in unspeakable cruelty.
When you witness the resilience of Robby the Romantic Rooster, who fell in love and went into deep mourning when his hen died, you can't eat chicken wings thinking that no harm was done in the making of your game day snack.
Lenore kindly visited Sun Studio to talk about the Refuge, their work, and their philosophy of animal care. Her partner, Paul, is an architect, and designed and built the animal houses based on many hours of research and observation. He made design decisions based on answers to the question, “What do the animals want and need to be happy, healthy, and fulfilled?”
[Click any of the photos below to see them big and adorable.]