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About Calf Sanctuary and Our Founder



About The Founder, Sharon Lawlor

Many times I get asked about Calf, who we are and how it all began, so here it is in a short version. I could literally write a book about CALF Sanctuary and my life, as it has been a roller coaster ride of mixed emotions.

A Spiritual Journey to the Light

In 2008 my much-loved father died, and it was one of the worst days of my life. He had suffered a stroke, and with very little help or knowledge from the medical profession on how to lower his cholesterol levels, it was only months later that Dad died of a suspected heart attack.

At that point I felt totally lost. Life without my dad seemed unthinkable, and I felt so alone and totally lost without him as he had always been my crutch in times of need. I started to see things which baffled me, and I was bombarded by the number 33 and especially 333 (of which I won’t go into in full detail here as that experience in itself is a book). For a good few months, I truly started to question my own life and purpose.

At this point, my daughter and I had built a very good business in the ravewear/dancewear scene, and we worked flat out to keep up with the demand. Yet I found it meant nothing to me—the money felt pointless and I began to lose the will to keep going. I felt like I was just existing.

One day I asked myself: “If I died tomorrow, who would know, who would really care, would I move on from this journey feeling fulfilled, what was the purpose of my existence?”

Glumly, I acknowledged my own answer: “No one would really care—besides close family—and I could find NO reason or purpose for my life other than to bring two lovely children into the world.” To me, that was not enough.

I Felt Like I was Missing Something

I was a vegetarian of 13 years, I had a very good business, a lovely grown-up daughter, and a newborn baby—yet I felt there was a huge void in my life.

Then one day, I was at my computer working when I clicked a PETA link by accident and a video came on with Pamela Anderson talking about KFC chickens. I saw a few seconds of the slaughter process . . . I burst into tears, because even though I was a vegetarian I still did not want to see the cruelty. At that point in life, I had felt that being veggie was enough.

That day moved me to the next stage of my journey.

I rushed to find the STOP button, but the images would not leave my thoughts.

I started to look into farming and meat, and in my heart I knew that there was something more that I could do to help. Little did I know what was in store or how my life was about to totally shift in both lifestyle and consciousness.

When my partner came home from work, he could tell I was upset and asked what was wrong.

“I don’t want to do this anymore, I need to find me, I need a reason to live, I feel empty. I need a purpose to exist that does not involve the self,” was my heartfelt reply.

Thankfully, as much as Warren did not understand what I meant, he was prepared to support me even though he had no idea both of our lives would change.

I no longer wanted to be part of the rat race; possessions, holidays, cars, and all the trappings of the material world no longer thrilled me.

“I want to move into the countryside, I want peace.”

This came as quite a shock as I had been a townie all my life, I'd always run businesses that involved the public. Yet I wanted out.

I tried to buy a small holding. I spent hour upon hour doing business plans and cash flow forecasts. I had gone overnight from a fashion designer with a successful design/manufacture business to a woman with no knowledge or experience in the field I wanted to enter.

I found what I thought was the dream farm, and I approached my bank. I was told no. I was not used to hearing the word no. I had by now acquired a few properties from sheer hard work and strong will. But times were changing and borrowing money was just about to change.

After much frustration I found my old bank manager by chance—he knew me well and knew I was a worker and he had faith in me. I impressed him with my cash flow and business plan and he agreed to lend me the money I needed.

The valuation was done and I was so excited until the report came in.

The farm was only six acres, but it was my dream farm. It had enough land for me to make a start on saving lives. It had barns that I could convert into a cafe, a space for petting areas that I could raise awareness . . . I had so many plans.

But the valuation report crushed my dreams. My roller-coaster ride with true meaning had begun.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After dusting myself off—I hate failure and defeat—I picked myself back up. We found a lovely place - little did we know the background to the place - and we were given the green light as suitable tenants by the lords and ladies that owned the small holding.

My new journey towards the light had started. 

It was a smallholding of only a couple of acres but it was a start. In the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields it looked perfect and I guess to a certain extent it was. But there were big issues with living here. I learnt to cope with the issues, and they taught me a lot and helped make me into the person that I am today.

Not long after we had moved into the farmhouse, a herd of cows appeared in the field right next to our home. I felt gutted. I was a vegetarian, but I hated actually seeing animals that I know are in the food chain industry as I thought there was nothing more I could do to help them. Often driving through the country I would cover my eyes if we passed a field of cows as it troubled me so much.

NOW I had them literally in my garden.

I could no longer look away as they would stand curiously looking at me from the cattle grid. I found myself drawn to them and felt so sad when I visited them, they looked so afraid. I had never been close to a cow, let alone made eye contact with one.

 

I would stand in the field and not look at them, if I made eye contact they would be afraid, if I pretended not to look they would crowd me, so curious as to who/what I was. They would sniff my face, lick my hand...

I fell in love, but with the new found love came such total and utter sadness.

I did not know if they were male or female. I could see no udders, yet I could see no testicles either. I felt silly that I did not know if they were boys or girls.

I started to research and what I discovered truly broke my heart.

I thought ALL cows gave milk. I presumed that they ate grass and milk came from chewing the cud. OMG, how could I of been so stupid!

I grieved for 3 weeks as I uncovered the dairy industry truth. Such a lie had been painted around the multi-million-pound dairy industry that I felt so hurt and angry with myself that I had played a big part in the destruction of such beauty all for a drink of milk, or a lump of cheese.

I turned vegan overnight thanks to being able to see for the first time in my life.

I was very scared yet also excited, for the first time in my life I knew there was a POINT, A PURPOSE that was not about me. I wanted to help these beings, they needed me. They LOVED my visits and they became my friends.

When I took storm in, they loved her it was as though they knew she was a little person just like them and they could relate to her.