NEWFANE, N.Y. — In a world full of choices, it's often the ones we don't make that have the greatest impact. That's a big part of the message at Asha's Farm Sanctuary in Newfane. Founder Tracy Murphy began the sanctuary for farm animals seven years ago, coming on the heels of a tremendous life choice of her own. She was a self professed "big meat eater" until a chance encounter at a local fair.
"I came across these pigs," Murphy said. "They were young, they were sweet, and they were in a bed of straw, and they were sleeping, and twitching. It was like they were dreaming that they were running through a field of flowers, and for the first time, I had the "ah-ha" moment, and I realized... I'm eating them. And I quickly connected that if I'm eating them, I'm causing them suffering and pain."
Murphy already had a deep connection to animals through her dog Asha, the sanctuary's namesake. Asha died of cancer at 11-years-old, and Murphy says she wanted to honor her dear friend's life.
"She died, and I was left with nothing, because she was my life," she said. "And I decided that I was going to live out my dream, and I was going to start the sanctuary. So six months later is when I purchased this property."
Applying the lessons of compassion and empathy she learned from Asha, Murphy rescues farm animals that would have otherwise faced an unpleasant fate. In exchange for their reprieve, the animals help educate people about the horrors of some commercial farming practices.
Though all the animals at the sanctuary have suffered trauma in their lives, they are now at peace, and are valuable in helping establish a connection between humans and animals.
The sanctuary is open on weekends during the summer and guests get to establish a bond in the best way, by meeting the animals in person.
"And see that the animals are no different than a dog or a cat, and if we see the animals that way, then we want to be able to help them," Murphy said.
The ultimate wish for the sanctuary is a world that no longer relies on products made from animals. Though the truth in this regard is very difficult to hear, Murphy says it is also liberating.
"If we say that we love animals, then aligning our values would mean that we shouldn't be consuming them, we shouldn't be causing them to suffer and die, when they want to live," Murphy said.
For more information on Asha's Farm Sanctuary, click here.