Rambo the Ram, Barbie the Hen, Malachi the Goat, and Charlie the Pig have found companionship through New York State’s Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS), an 80-acre haven for animals rescued from neglect, abuse, and abandonment. Since its inception nine years ago, CAS has served 1,500 animals by providing loving care and transitioning the rehabilitated critters to new, happy homes. VN chatted with CAS Founder and Director Kathy Stevens, author of the forthcoming Animal Camp: My Summer with a Horse, a Pig, a Cow, and Pigeon, a Dog, Two Cats, and One Very Patient Man, to share four special farm animals.
Rambo the Ram
Rambo, pictured above, arrived at CAS in 2002 after being saved—along with 14 other animals—from a locked stall on an abandoned property, where the owner would drop by a couple times a week and throw stale bagels to the animals. Rambo arrived at CAS full of violence and mistrust, even using his massive horns to pin his human caretakers against the barn wall. Now he’s a natural leader among the animals, one whom Stevens calls a “teacher, sage, healer, and peacemaker.” He even has a fan club comprised of two hens and a turkey.
Favorite food: Ginger snaps
Best friend: His paramour, Hannah the sheep
Favorite thing: Massages on his rear quarters
Charlie the Pig
Charlie’s caretaker relocated to Europe. Over the course of her 6,000-mile trans-Atlantic flight to her new neighborhood, she must have had a change of heart—once her plane landed, she called CAS in tears, upset that she had “forgotten” to find a home for three sheep and one Charlie. He came to CAS dehydrated and depressed, a condition that didn’t begin to lift until a year later, when he found a friend in Rambo the Ram. Stevens says that these days, Charlie happily spends his time stealing hay to pad his already very generous bedding and sneaking mixed grains from the horses’ breakfast bowls.
Favorite food: Horse feed
Best friend: His snuggle-buddy, Ozzie the pig
Favorite thing: Stealing hay
Barbie the Hen
Barbie, pictured above with Rambo, is a broiler hen from Brooklyn, where she was found cowering under a parked car. When she arrived at CAS two years ago, Barbie quickly adapted to her new, free-range lifestyle. Stevens explains that broiler hens are bred to grow huge, suffering from the same health problems as morbidly obese humans, so the friendly folks at CAS keep a close watch on her diet. Usually, Barbie can be found snuggling with Rambo the Ram, whom she adores.
Favorite food: Bananas
Best friend: Rambo
Favorite thing: Chillin’ with fowl friends
Malachi the Goat
When Malachi’s horse friend passed away, his grief was so profound that his guardians brought him to CAS, where they hoped he would find solace in a new animal companion. At CAS, Malachi had his pick of two large pastures of goats, but he instead ended up befriending Passion, a timid horse, who helps remind Malachi of his lost beloved. Goats are notorious for eating anything they can get their hands—er, teeth—on, and Malachi is no exception. Because of his predisposition to graze, caretakers limit his diet to hay and small quantities of grain and vegetable.
Favorite food: Fruit treats
Best friend: Passion the horse
Favorite thing: Escorting CAS horses to pasture