Animal World
From Animal Farmer to Rescuer: Cheri Vandersluis of Maple Farm Sanctuary    Part 1   
I'm Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis, my husband Jim and I reside here in Mendon, Massachusetts in the United States at Maple Farm Sanctuary and we take care of more than 100 rescued animals that have either been abused, abandoned or unwanted. And we also try to teach people about a non-violent vegan way of life.

Gracious viewers, welcome to Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. Today’s show features the elevating story of vegans Jim Vandersluis, and Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis, and their love-filled Maple Farm Sanctuary, a caring refuge for animals since 1998. The Vandersluis family practiced dairy farming for many years on the very same 48 hectare plot of land on which the Sanctuary is now located. Like all dairies, the operation repeatedly cycled through the heartless processes that are associated with meat and milk production.

My husband is a third generation dairy farmer and the property that we reside on was owned by his father and his uncle. And there’s a lot of history here. Many, many cows went through these doors giving their babies, their milk and their lives.

After meeting each other, Cheri joined her goat milking business with Jim’s dairy farm. Deep within both felt a profound connection with animals, but at the time blocked this love in their hearts because their actions were leading to the deaths of goats and cows.

My grandparents came from a farm family in Canada. So I learned at a very early age about dairy farming and the consequences to the animals, but being very young, I simply became conditioned to the fact that milk and meat came from these animals and the disconnect came very quickly even though I loved animals. I always had a dog. I always would be picking up stray animals and nursing them back to health. So animals were always a part of my life.

Jim always told me how much he loved the cows. But again there was that disconnect in the process where you can't become close to these animals, because ultimately they are sent to death one way or another.

We raised the animals humanely; we loved these animals. You talk about humane farming, we were about as humane as you could get, but once that throat is sliced, it’s not humane. It’s cruel, it’s painful; they’re full of fear.

Cows are very serene and giving animals. Mothers develop a lifelong bond with their calves and will do their utmost to protect their young. However on dairy farms, they never get a chance to be with their offspring as the babies are immediately taken away.

She gives birth and the moment she's given birth, the calf is taken away from her which is a very sad moment because the mother will call for her calf for up to two weeks and the baby will call for her mother for quite awhile. That's how they bond; they call to one another. The moment the baby hits the ground, then the mother knows it's there. They begin talking to one another and they bond.

The grass grazing goats are peace-loving animals known for their intelligence and love of companionship. Baby goats are called “kids” and are very trusting and playful. A kid is very close to their mother and loves to try and leap onto their mom’s back. Cheri and Jim raised the kids like their own children and struggled within themselves when selling the baby goats for meat. The moment we put the goat in the sling to be weighed, the baby would look at me and the eyes would just tell me that I was betraying them.

And the scale was one thing. We’d weigh them and then we’d take them out off the scale and then I’d lay them down on their side and then the customer would hog tie them. The moment they started to be hog tied, they would look into my eyes and start to cry. And you could see the fear and the mistrust and the questioning, it’s like, “What are you doing to me?”

I’d let them take the baby goats and I would start to cry sometimes and I’d have to walk away. The first few times we watched the customers simply pick them up like a piece of luggage and throw them into the back of their truck or throw them into the trunk of their car and slam the trunk shut and I could hear the babies crying.

One day, Jim and I got to the point where we were standing at the gate where the goats would leave and we had just hugged tight a couple of our little babies that weighed about 30 pounds and they're going off for someone's Easter dinner. And they were crying in the trunk of the car being driven away and Jim and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. And almost simultaneously we said, "I can't do this anymore." And it was our epiphany and it was then that we began our journey of "How do we stop farming animals and how do we start helping animals?"

After this brief pause, we will have more from our interview with Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

We've had a few rescues where they were female goats and they came pregnant and I got to deliver some babies again. There's nothing like having the babies delivered and letting them stay on their mum and seeing that relationship grow

Welcome back to Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. Today’s show features the uplifting story of the peaceful Maple Farm Sanctuary in Massachusetts, USA. With their compassion awakened, Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis and Jim Vandersluis wished to end their involvement in animal agriculture. During the first stage of the transition process in turning the farm into a sanctuary, the couple was unable to care for all the goats on the farm at the time, but luckily, with the assistance of several local animal sanctuaries, they found a solution.

I called an animal rights organization and I told them what we were doing and he said “Don’t worry, you’re doing the right thing,” and they give me a list of animal sanctuaries. And I found Omani Farm Animal Sanctuary in Pennsylvania (USA) and they said that they would take half of our goats. That eased our financial burden because it still cost money to support the goats but we wanted to keep some, but not farm them.

So they came up one day with a rented trailer and I had my list of the goats, because I had family groups, they’re all in family groups and they came up and they took various family groups and they went down to Pennsylvania (USA) and the rest stayed here. And that was tough also, but at least I knew they were going to a good home.

As a result of a profound transformation of consciousness, the couple also made a complete lifestyle change, which included a new diet.

The emotional transition in the beginning was very rocky. And I guess it was because of what we did already do. And then that reflected on what we wanted to do to make things better. And reflecting on all that, we saw how violent everything was. There’s so much violence in getting food to our table, and we wanted to live a non-violent lifestyle and so there was that emotion of wanting to be non-violent. It was in our heart; it seemed to come naturally.

And we felt that eating vegan was so right; it was non-violent, it helped the animals, and it helped people’s health. You don’t need the drugs that they seem to hand out left and right to bring your cholesterol down and your blood pressure down. You just eat vegan and you don’t need that medication. You don’t need the stents and you don’t need the bypass surgery. And it was coming to all of those realizations that just helped us finally settle down into this lifestyle and that’s what we try to teach.

Now let us meet some of the lovely residents of this tranquil animal refuge!

This is Little Bet, a lamb that we rescued that came from a farm that just had triplets, and one was very weak and they were going to just let her die. So I asked if I could take her, and the same with the two little goats. They had been born a week before Little Bet and they too were very weak. So we asked them if we could take them and raise them up because again they were going to be left to die and we were lucky enough to get them and we kept them in the house and now they’re growing up and doing quite well.

The two llamas, Milkweed and Pago were going to go to slaughter and we rescued them, and they have been shorn, that’s why they have such short coats. And Dragon was rescued from slaughter, and the Jersey cow over there Habibi, I bottle raised Habibi and now she’s living out her life here and not worrying about going to production.

These ducks, the original duck is Cuddles which is the one with the most orange bill and he was actually purchased at a fair as a duckling. And the people couldn’t care for him anymore so they brought him here. He was very in tune with people; he didn’t really know he was a duck and we went and we rescued two female ducks for him to have as companions.

And when they came, they knew they were ducks and they were chasing after him just to be with him. But he didn’t know he was a duck and he was scared to death to be with these two ducks, but now he’s quite devoted, and he’s adjusted and now they’re very happy. They wander around the farm during the day and they come in the chicken door in the barn at night and sleep in the barn.

We sincerely appreciate Cheri Vandersluis’s sharing the wonderful story of her leaving animal agriculture and bringing joy and love to the world through caring for animals. Vibrant viewers, please join us again tomorrow for the second and final part of our uplifting talk with Cheri Vandersluis on Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants.

For more information on the Maple Farm Sanctuary, please visit:

Thank you for joining us today for our program. Coming up next is Enlightening Entertainment, after Noteworthy News. May the entire world be awakened now and quickly adopt the compassionate, life-affirming organic vegan lifestyle.
Esteemed viewers, welcome to Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. Today’s show features the second and final part of an interview with vegan, Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis, who runs the love-filled Maple Farm Sanctuary along with her husband Jim Vandersluis. The Sanctuary has served as a caring refuge for animals since 1998.

Jim’s family practiced dairy farming for many years on the very same 48 hectare plot of land on which the Sanctuary is now located. Like all dairies, the operation repeatedly cycled through the heartless processes that are associated with meat and milk production.

After meeting Jim, Cheri joined her goat milking business with his dairy farm. Deep within both felt a profound connection with animals, but at the time blocked this love in their hearts because their actions were leading to the deaths of goats and cows. Following an awakening of compassion in their souls, Cheri and Jim took the life-affirming step of closing down their dairy farm and turning it into a sustainable refuge to house and care for the area’s abandoned, abused and homeless farm animals.

We’re not killing anything anymore. We’re growing food for everyone, for all people, for the children that are starving, for everyone! And we’re becoming non-violent and I think if they thought about it enough, the dairy farmers and the beef farmers might begin to embrace such a culture,.

The couple, now a mommy and daddy to some 100 animals living free in their animal village, are both vegans.

When Jim and I made the decision, I knew I was going vegetarian first and then vegan, but I didn’t expect my husband, who really didn’t know much about that, to make that big change. But much to my surprise he said, “Why are you going to cook any differently for me? I want to be vegetarian too.” So first we started being vegetarian, but very quickly we switched over to vegan because of all of the dairy product issues. We were so closely connected to the dairy issue that we knew we couldn’t continue with the dairy also. So it was a very quick transition from vegetarianism to veganism.

Both Jim and I have felt much better, as far as our stamina, and our mood. It’s almost like being more peaceful and I think that’s in combination with what we’re doing and what we’re eating. There’s just a peace about it. We do feel healthier most definitely!

Jim’s family has had a history of heart disease and he was kind of worried about that but I’ve checked his blood pressure and it’s right down there and he seems to be in good health. He says he feels better, he’s lost weight and he feels more comfortable at that weight. But all in all the diet has made us feel better in many different ways.

Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis encourages all those involved in animal agriculture to embrace a bright and promising future by leaving the industry and taking up a constructive and loving occupation that does not involve hurting animals.

I know we’re not the only ones who have changed. I know that there are a lot of dairy farmers out there and beef farmers that are afraid of people like us that say, “Veganism is the way to go.” They’re really afraid that we’re going to destroy their business, their lifestyle. And I’m not personally out to do that. I want to see them improve their lifestyle. I want to see their land be improved upon.

I don’t want to see all the chemicals sprayed to get rid of all the flies that are all over the livestock, the beef cows out in the feed lots. I don’t want to see all the feed lots; I don’t want to see all the slaughterhouses. We don’t need all of that. If all that land could be transitioned into growing food for humans, then we would truly be making progress. It would still support the farmers. Other farmers have done it. And if we can do it, other farmers can do it.

They can still farm. They're working with the Earth. That’s what farming is all about, the Earth, and being good stewards of the land. And by having dairy cows and beef cows, we're not being good stewards of the land. We're destroying the land. We're chopping down rainforest. We're putting up feedlots and spraying chemicals to get rid of the flies and we're killing ourselves. So, I just hope that the livestock folk just look at what they're doing and think a little bit that maybe we do have some good reasons to go towards a vegan based diet.

After these brief messages, we’ll meet some of the intelligent and lovely animal co-inhabitants of the Maple Farm Sanctuary. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

We still grow hay for the sanctuary animals. What we produce is not sprayed with chemicals and we don't use a chemical fertilizer. We take the feces from the animals here, compost it and then spread it back on the land.

Welcome back to Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants for our program spotlighting the Maple Farm Sanctuary in Massachusetts, USA which once was a dairy farm, but now serves as a safe refuge for animals. Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis and Jim Vandersluis now live with peace of mind because they have changed their profession and found their life mission, which is helping to protect our vulnerable and innocent animal friends.

Jim bought the farm to carry on the tradition. And the tradition has changed a little bit. He gets to love the animals now. He gets to care for the animals. He doesn't have to worry about them going to slaughter and having miserable lives.

We get to reach our heart out to these animals and love them and care for them and do the best that we can for them right now. But we get to love the animals a lot more, that’s the important thing. We get to embrace them, we get to talk to them and not feel guilty that “I’m forming a bond and it’s about to be broken in a week.” The bond stays forever.

Jonathan Calabria, a yoga instructor and a Maple Farm Sanctuary board member, believes in peaceful living and thus follows a vegan diet. He tries his best to get the word out about why this compassionate way of eating is so wonderful.

I really thrive on this diet. And I don’t believe I’m special; I don’t believe that I have this special genetic makeup allows me to be vegan. I’m a pretty regular guy brought up on a very heavy meat diet and now I don’t feel a need for that at all.

He now introduces us to a new friend from the haven!

Hey, this is Pidge, she’s a real sweet chicken. And she really loves to be held. She doesn’t usually get outside, so she is feeling a little nervous. But she can still see her sanctuary, you know. Hey, honey, it’s alright. Yes. Beautiful bird.

Cheri took us around to meet some of the other joyful residents of the Maple Farm Sanctuary. Kali the Brown Swiss calf is one of the most recent arrivals and is a truly cheerful youth. Receiving plenty of tender loving care in her new home, Kali is now one of the happiest cows in Maple Farm. She’s full of life and warmth and comes running for petting whenever there’s a visitor to the Sanctuary.

She’s just the light of our life right now. She is the most gentle Brown Swiss Cow. She’s doing really well and she’s a happy girl. She loves to play.

Jonathan the pig is a splendid fellow who loves the Sun. He has a warm personality, is quite jolly and is good friends with Kali. He was brought to the Sanctuary when he was only four months old.

Jonathan is a pig that we originally got in very serious condition. He had an umbilical hernia, and we had to have him have surgery. The vet donated her time to help Jonathan out and saved his life, and he started out maybe this big, and now you can see how large he is and he still continues to grow and he’s quite a happy pig; he’s quite the boss pig.

Other members of the Maple Farm family include Smokey the cat, Ivan the Icelandic horse, Cassie the cow, Lucky the miniature pony, Tara Anna the sheep, goats Sid and Chloe, and many more. The different species of animals at the Sanctuary live in harmony with one another.

Most of the people that come to the sanctuary are animal lovers, and they’re very interested in what we do. And they want to visit with the animals and experience the animals. Some want to learn about the animals. Some are willing to muck out the stalls, bless their hearts. And feed them treats. And there are others that help to chop up the produce that we get from Whole Foods and get that for the pigs and the goats. And we have some elderly animals that need to eat the softer foods. So these volunteers help with all of that.

Even if they’re vegan or vegetarian, they still haven’t had the experience with the cow or the goat or the calf. They haven’t had that one-on-one experience. So it does help make the further connection.

Before we say our farewells to our friendly host and the warm residents of the Maple Farm Sanctuary, let us find out what Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis’s vision is for the world’s animals and people.

My hopes and dreams are that we can all live in peace and that there is no violence and that we are no longer consumers of the flesh and that we are only consumers of that which we were meant to eat, which are plants.

We salute Jim and Cheri Vandersluis of Massachusetts USA for making the noble and wise decision to switch from dairy farming to operating a caring shelter for animals. Their selfless heroism and ongoing efforts to save lives are truly inspirational.

For more details on the Maple Farm Sanctuary, please visit:

Compassionate viewers, thank you for joining us today for Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants on Supreme Master Television. Coming up next is Enlightening Entertainment, after Noteworthy News. May all hearts be awakened so that the animals are treated as brothers and sisters.

For this year's World Environment Day, the United Nations has chosen the theme “Many Species. One Planet. One Future.” As animal agriculture continues to devastate our ecosystems, this theme highlights the importance of embracing the compassionate plant-based diet in order to secure our planet's future.

Agriculture alone has changed the landscape of the planet more than any other driver. So I would advocate getting off of the meat diet, that it really is not sustainable.

Learn more about how a vegan diet promotes this year's World Environment Day theme, Wednesday June 2, on Planet Earth: Our Loving Home.

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