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Chester County Press

Threatened animals find safety at Chenoa Manor

06/21/2021 11:11AM ● By Steven Hoffman

An accredited animal sanctuary on Glen Willow Road called Chenoa Manor straddles the boundary between New Garden Township and London Grove Township, giving new hope and optimism to animals that would otherwise be suffering abuse or facing slaughter.

Most often, those rescued residents come and are accepted from inquiries by the American Sanctuary Association and humane officers. These animals are frequent victims of abuses of factory farming, cruelty, hoarding, lab experiments and abandonment. Sometimes they even arrive from regions where they were displaced by natural disasters. This 25-acre farm is home to as many as 250 farm or exotic animals, but no wildlife or dogs and cats.

Highly visible from the roadside are the large farm animals in the fields—the horses, cows and sheep. But not so obvious are the scores of smaller species like birds, turtles and guinea pigs enjoying their lives in abodes that are more tucked away.

Anyone arriving at the property is struck by the serenity of the view. With the White Clay Creek babbling quietly along the edge, the mood is calming and peaceful with varieties of farm animal species grazing lazily together in the fields.

A herd of sheep, recently rounded up in a corral for shearing, defied the caretakers’ concerns for their anxiety. They came to the edge of their fence out of curiosity for a visitor, seeking attention and patting.

Horses chomp away on a hay bale next to contented cows and donkeys, while goats frolic at the far end of the field. When humans approach, the animals -- having grown accustomed to interacting with their human hosts -- amble over to greet new visitors.

Meanwhile, off in another field, the pigs rest in small tents for their afternoon naps.

Even a flock of vultures, looking strangely like something out of an Edgar Allen Poe story, perch on a nearby fence, overseeing the entire scene.

Christiane Moore, who was working in the operation on a recent afternoon, said they don’t worry about the vultures’ presence.

“Some people don’t like them, so they formed a colony here,” she said.

Chenoa Manor is primarily guided by an Inner Circle Council. The Inner Circle is composed of young adults who have been impacted by the Manor and the offerings there, either through internships or community service. Together, they lead Chenoa forward with their ideas and decisions, supported by an Elder Circle. The Elder Circle is comprised of visionary professionals who range from doctors to actresses to artists, each offering their wisdom, experience, and expertise as needed, according to the website.

The organization is 100 percent volunteer-run and has no paid staff. They rely exclusively on contributions from the public to support the costs of animal care, building and property maintenance, and programming, the website stated.

Chenoa Manor was founded about 20 years ago by itinerant veterinarian Dr. Rob Teti, whose affection for animals and belief in the power of love is well known to his friends and led him to the project. Posted around the property by him are Buddhist and Taoist quotes affirming the unity of humans with the natural world.
Chenoa Manor is and has always operated on three principles: 

~ To offer farm and exotic animals lifetime sanctuary from situations where they have no alternative placement;

~ To nurture and empower youth through educational programs that promote nature connectedness, communication, and self-confidence; and

~ To promote respect and compassion for nature and animals through workshops that engage the community and the public at large.

During the warm weather especially, Chenoa Manor offers volunteer and internship opportunities for youth and adults. These volunteers uniformly report that they learned life-changing skills and developed attitudes that drew them closer to nature and animals.

The website states: “Young people are a big part of life at Chenoa Manor, whether they are visiting for independent community service, through a community group like the Girl Scouts, sororities or sports teams, with a college Alternative Breaks program, through our internship program, or other workshops and events. Visiting Chenoa is a memorable experience, and we’ve found that our mission and impact are best described in young visitors’ own words.”

One young volunteer wrote, “I learned that the most effective way to get rid of stress is just to be outside in the sun. I forgot how well I respond to getting my hands dirty and paying attention to the ground below me.”

There are also special events that invite small groups for specific activities. This summer they include a silent evening of reflection; sharing space with pigs; photography tours; youth art for different age groups; sharing space with tortoises; and steward for a day on the farm.

Each event costs between $30 and $50. See their website for more information.

Moore, who was tending the farm on a recent afternoon, said she handles the publicity and fundraising for Chenoa.

Once, she said, the stream flooded and wiped out the fences. One pig temporarily escaped (and was later returned), but the repairs amounted to $10,000 in costs.

During the winter, the opportunity for grazing in the grass diminishes, and the horses need food. She said they organized a fundraiser called, “Buy a bale of hay,” – a title that let people know they were helping the cause.

She mentioned another feature of the place that many find interesting.

On the property is a centuries-old barn. It is rather worn and in need of repair, but it is still used for some events. Moore said it is beautiful inside, and some even select it for a wedding ceremony. At other times, the art classes and displays have been held there.

Several years ago, the Chenoa leadership found writings on the wall which indicated that the barn has been around, perhaps since early residents were in communication with the local native Americans.

Restoring this aging treasure will run about $300,000, and the money is not yet there, Moore said.

Expenses occur and Moore continues her fundraising and publicity.

Nonetheless, the animals live out their lives, content that they are safe and loved.

The visitors depart, likewise enriched and optimistic:

“Ben” from Ursinus College wrote this on the Chenoa Manor website: “Every time I leave Chenoa Manor, I leave with a sense of hope, and I see it in the other people who are there as well. If everybody has a little bit of hope in the good, things will happen, and positive change will come.”