Sometimes, Mike Lanigan swears the universe is trying to have a word with him.
Maybe it spoke to him when he made the fateful decision to transform his cattle farm — a place where animals were raised only to be slaughtered — into the Farmhouse Garden Animal Home, where they could live their lives in peace.
But on the seventh day, even farmers must rest.
“I try not to do anything on Sundays,” Lanigan tells iHeartDogs.
The universe seemed to have other ideas, because just as Lanigan began to doze off in his easy chair, there was a knock on the door.
“It was my cousin, who lives in the next house down,” he recalls. “He’s pounding on the door and he says, ‘Mike, you’ve got a calf running up and down the road.”
“Awww… f^$#,” Lanigan sighed.
The calf conundrum was solved easily enough. In fact, she slipped back under the fence on her own and made straight to her mother’s side.
But that night, it turned out the universe had a little more to say to the weary farmer.
While walking back to the house, Lanigan passed the barn — and heard another powerful knock.
This time, it was a heavy, frantic thud.
“Sometimes, the horses will kick the manger if they’re hungry or they’ll kick the water trough if the automatic water broke,” Lanigan explains.
“They kind of tell me, ‘Wake up Mike. You’re not feeding me.’”
But when Lanigan stepped into the barn, he found his horse Jane on the floor, her head pinned down by the manger.
“She actually had her head under the manger and she was banging it with her head every time she tried to get up,” Lanigan recalls.
Freeing Jane was no small matter. But Lanigan is certain had he not found her, the horse would have died a slow, painful death thrashing against the manger and slowly suffocating.
But, thanks to the farmer who really just wanted to be in his easy chair, Jane was freed — and bouncing happily on her hooves again.
Was the universe trying to tell him something?
“I often think, it’s not just my intuition,” Lanigan says. “It’s the universe trying to pull it together, to get me out there.”
After all, the calf would often slip through the fence to eat the grass the big cows couldn’t reach. But why would she be racing down a gravel road?
“’How are we going to get Mike out here?'” Lanigan muses. “‘Okay, the only way to do it is to get someone to knock on his door.’”
“I don’t know, maybe it’s just horseshit and luck, but I saved that horse’s life.”
It wouldn’t be the first time Lanigan just had a feeling and decided to go out of his way to check on his animals.
Once, on his way to a farmer’s market in the early morning hours, something told him to have a look at the horses. He found one in a hole after falling through some ice. Her face was in the water and she couldn’t get up.
“There was no reason for me to go check her,” Lanigan says.
Another time, he found a horse who had “somehow got his ass stuck in a feeder.”
“It’s not like I wake up and I’m like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to go the barn,’” Lanigan says.
And there were a couple of times when Lanigan stepped into the barn to find a fire had started — mercifully early enough to save the barn and all its residents.
“It was in the middle of the day,” he says. “There was no reason to go there.”
No, Lanigan thinks someone else may be pulling the strings. Maybe it’s the same someone who urged him to turn his family cattle farm into a sanctuary.
Or maybe it isn’t the universe at all. But his own heart that speaks to him.
One thing he knows for sure: To get him out of his easy chair on a Sunday, it doesn’t so much have to speak, but yell.