When Pen Pals Fly

I am trapped in the bathroom with two 90-pound dogs and my wife. A tornado was spotted near our house, so we are crammed into this tiny room, taking shelter. There are a few trees down near our house. The wind is howling. My dog has bad gas.

It has been 40 days of self-isolation. And now a tornado. I truly think I’m losing my mind. Do you know what I did this morning to keep from going slap crazy? I wrote a letter to a goat. That’s right. I am not making this up. It’s a handwritten letter.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Why did you write to a goat when could have just written to an ostrich?”

I can’t answer that. All I know is that an animal rescue farm in Seven Valleys, Pennsylavnia, has started a pen-pal service during this quarantine wherein anyone can write to barnyard animals and—here’s the best part—the animals actually write letters back.

This is not a joke. You can send handwritten letters to real animals who will read them, ponder them, eat them, and eventually turn them into an environmentally safe all-purpose fertilizer.

It’s not just goats who are available for correspondence. But also pigs, chickens, cows, and congresspersons.

This all started when Amanda and Steve Clark founded the Here With Us Farm Sanctuary in York County, Pennsylvania. They rescue abused and neglected animals and give them a great place to live. They have been doing this for a few years and they have animals crawling out of their ears.

This year was supposed to be the farm’s first year doing fun events like camping trips and educational tours. But then the pandemic hit. Life came to a crashing halt. The farm had no visitors.

So that’s where the idea for the pen-pal thing came from. Since visitors couldn’t pet animals in person, Amanda thought maybe they could write letters instead.

The idea has really taken off. People from all over the nation have been writing letters to these animals. The have more letters than they know what to do with.

Amanda and Steve want to stress that they are committed to getting every letter read and answered. And the animals are taking it seriously, too. These animals are more than ready to create lasting pen-pal relationships with individuals who seek something more than just a casual fling.

Take Alice, for instance. Alice is a beautiful brunette goat who likes long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners consisting of 7UP cans and used tube socks. She’s looking for a guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously and isn’t afraid to act like a kid.

When Alice first came to the farm, she had been suffering from a severe listeria infection that paralyzed her face and landed her in a special animal wheelchair. She was a mess. But thanks to the sanctuary, Alice has made a full recovery.

Since coming to the farm, she is a new creature. Alice is back to her old self, and has even thought of starting her own lifestyle column in the local newspaper, the “York Daily Record.”

There’s also Chester, a red calf with lots of personality. Chester says he’s seeking a gal who is domesticated, sensitive, but also smells like roadkill. Brown eyes are a must, he prefers full-figures. Above all, says Chester, “I want a cow who knows how to make fresh pies.”

Chester’s backstory is much like the other animals at the sanctuary. He wasn’t treated well. His original owner wasn’t exactly citizen of the year. Chester’s owner got sent to prison, and suddenly Chester and his best friend—a donkey—were homeless. And since nobody was in the market for a donkey-cow combo, Chester and his buddy were split up.

Loneliness and depression set in. But then Amanda and Steve came along and saved the day. Today, Chester spends his days in the sunshine hanging out with his cow pals (Rufus, Ronnie, and Reggie) and he is pursuing a degree in liberal arts at the University of Pennsylvania.

Which leads us to Winston, a pot-bellied hog with a sweet face, and big eyes, who loves food. Favorite movies are: “Charlotte’s Web,” “Babe,” and “The English Patient.”

Winston came to the sanctuary last May when he was transferred from Animal Care and Control in Philadelphia. He was in bad shape. Whoever owned Winston before wasn’t very nice, he still has back and ankle problems because of whatever horrible circumstances he came from. He is also terrified of people. Winston has a long way to go, but Amanda says he’s getting more comfortable with humans every day.

This is exactly why Winston needs your letters. So do all the animals.

Amanda and Steve say that they are making absolute certain that the animals read your letters, thoughtfully discuss your letters, and most importantly, write prompt responses useing propper englisch and gramer.

Amanda is sending batches of return letters every day. “I just packaged up some last night,” she says. “On some letters we got hoof prints… One of the cows even took a bite out of a letter, so I drew an arrow on it and wrote, ‘Oh, he took a bite!’”

So I’ll quit beating around the bush and give to the information I know you’re waiting for. If you’d like to write a letter to a barnyard animal, please send letters to: Here With Us Farm, c/o Amanda Clark, 3397 Tunnel Hill Road, Seven Valleys, PA 17360.

I am going to suffocate in the bathroom with these dogs.


  1. Beth Ann Chiles - April 24, 2020 10:41 am

    This is definitely a band wagon I can jump on! We have a rescue farm a few miles from me and I love to visit and feed the animals. They have about a million guinea pigs that are adorable. The owners are good people and we donate there as often as we can. I need to see if their critters can write letters. 🙂 But in the mean time I am headed to find some edible paper to write a letter on to send to the friends at Here With Us Farm! Thanks!

  2. Curtis Lee Zeitelhack - April 24, 2020 11:02 am

    Sean, I hope you and your wife will emerge from that bathroom relatively unscathed (i.e. no permanent damage to your psyches, no recurring nightmares and no residual odor of canine flatulence – Oh, and no serious damage to the domicile). This animal pen-pal idea may be one of the most innovative I’ve heard of in the last year or twenty. Tell Chester that I don’t recommend the cow pies, though.

  3. Donna Beridon - April 24, 2020 11:34 am

    Enjoyed the puns! I hope you were spared from tornado damage! Writing to a goat??? That’s not so baad!

  4. L. Warren - April 24, 2020 11:41 am

    Wait a doggoned minute here . . . what happened to Chester’s best buddy, the donkey?!!!??

  5. Teresa Brown - April 24, 2020 12:46 pm

    I just love reading your stories with my 10 year old daughter. She is definitely going to write a chicken. She has 15 of her own and spends every minute she can with them. Thank you so much for helping us get through this quarantine with laughter.

  6. Tim Peace - April 24, 2020 1:46 pm

    Sure….blame it on the dog! LOL! (Pssst. I would too!)

  7. Pat - April 24, 2020 2:06 pm

    I am assuming that this farm could use donations since it can’t be cheap caring for these animals. And their fundraising plan was thwarted by COVID19. So, should we send a check in our letter to an animal or see if their is a donation website?

  8. Bobbie E - April 24, 2020 2:12 pm

    More smiles….keep them coming dear friend. Go out and breathe some fresh air! Much needed I’m sure after the bathroom episode. Do hope all is well. God bless. ❤️🇺🇸🇺🇸

  9. Michele Sandstead - April 24, 2020 3:18 pm

    Hi Sean! I can relate to your bathroom sanctuary! My husband and I were in the bathroom yesterday with our two 50 lb. poodle furry babies! The same storm you were in was right down the road from you in Destin, where we live!! And our Sonny boy had gas too. We love your column! Read it every day! Thank you for Blessing so many people with your life stories.

  10. Betty - April 24, 2020 3:29 pm

    I pray that we hear from you tomorrow which would mean you came out of that episode alive. I also pray there is no damage to your home. I see that your safe room is the same as ours, the bathroom. It’s the only room without windows & not on an outside wall. Besides, it could come in handy being in the bathroom instead of a closet. Being from WI originally I guess I would have to write to a cow.

  11. Linda Moon - April 24, 2020 4:05 pm

    I’ve actually been thinking about Pen Pals lately. I had lots of them when I was a kid, and I loved it. If you go slap crazy again, Sean, just pretend I’m a goat and write me a letter. Or write to any or all of your 66,198 well-deserved followers in your spare time. I will write a letter to Winston because I want to know why on God’s Green Earth he would choose “The English Patient” as a favorite movie! I’m glad you, your wife, and the dogs didn’t suffocate or get blown away as you sheltered in the bathroom.

  12. sandy hutchinson - April 24, 2020 4:45 pm

    So creative & fun!

  13. Ann - April 24, 2020 6:33 pm

    I think my grandchildren would enjoy doing this!….. no no no…. not the shut in the bathroom thing… the animal letters.
    Once again thank you for a smile!!

  14. barbara - April 24, 2020 6:39 pm

    I have no words !

  15. Joyce Bacon - April 24, 2020 9:19 pm

    I’ve never written to an animal but I did spend some time in a bathroom with my husband and a dog during a tornado. And it wasn’t even a true bathroom…just a powder room approx 3″ x 5″. Hubby was on the (throne), I was on the little step stool for the kids pressed up against the sink and just enough room between us for a 40 pound dog. We could hear the wind and trees being toppled over as we waited it out. It was probably 5 minutes but felt like 500. We were dog sitting for our grandson while he was on vacation. The good news is the damage to the house was minimal but he lost a few trees. A few months later they had a thunderstorm and said dog who had never been afraid of storms went straight to the bathroom where she stayed for the duration. It has been 4 years and she still takes cover in the nearest bathroom during a storm. But if I decide to write I think I’ll choose a pig. With a last name like mine I can’t see any other choice.

  16. Mary M Berryman - April 24, 2020 10:46 pm

    Yes! What did happen to Chester’s best friend, the donkey? Inquiring minds want to know!


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