The quaintly named Ellie Mae Farm Sanctuary is tucked in the cozy and pastoral eastern corner of Connecticut, in a small town called Vernon.
Founded in 2018 by Mackenzie Sullivan, the micro sanctuary’s story began two years prior. Sullivan was a student at the University of Connecticut, majoring in Psychology while minoring in Animal Sciences.
It was an Introduction to Animal Sciences course where Sullivan met the real Ellie Mae.
“I had to choose a farmed animal to train for an event at the end of the semester,” says Sullivan. “I ended up picking a Hereford girl with the ear tag that read H864D who I named Ellie Mae.”
With her big soulful brown eyes, head of curly creamy off-white hair, copper markings, and speckled pink nose, the three-month-old calf was adorable, to say the least!
Ellie Mae (Image © Mackenzie Sullivan)
Sullivan recalls how timid and shy the sweet young cow was when they first met and how quickly a friendship blossomed between them. Ellie Mae’s gentle disposition and loving personality touched Sullivan to such an extent that she knew she’d made a friend for life.
Unfortunately, life as Sullivan and Ellie Mae knew it came to a screeching halt at the end of the semester. Ellie Mae was put on auction after the school program had ended, and Sullivan was outbid.
Crushed but unwilling to give up her bovine best friend without a fight, Sullivan struck up a deal with the farmer who purchased Ellie Mae. She was able to visit her on weekends, and for the next three years, Sullivan did just that.
But when Ellie Mae became pregnant and gave birth to her daughter, Zee, Sullivan knew she couldn’t stand to be separated from Ellie Mae, or her new baby, any longer.
With great conviction and persistence, Sullivan was able to convince the farmer to let her take both Ellie Mae and eight-month-old Zee on May 31st, 2019, and thus, embark on her farmed sanctuary adventure.
“I never thought that I would be rescuing farmed animals,” says Sullivan. That soul-deep connection between her and Ellie Mae led to Sullivan’s journey into animal rescue, veganism, and activism.
“Ellie Mae is my absolute best friend,” says Sullivan fondly. “She is the reason I get out of bed each morning, and she has given me a purpose on this planet. She has taught me true compassion and led me to be vegan and, of course, create the sanctuary which will allow us both to save more lives.”
“I truly believe that things are meant to happen for a reason. Ellie Mae is my reason in life. Meeting her and eventually rescuing her was all by chance, and I feel so lucky to have her in my life.”
Ellie Mae and her daughter Zee (Image © Mackenzie Sullivan)
This inspiring and heart-lifting story led us to partner with Ellie Mae Farm Sanctuary in September 2020.
Sullivan remembers the moment we reached out to her with great enthusiasm.
“I had seen other sanctuaries post about Trupo Treats on their social media pages, [and] I was so excited when you guys wanted to partner with the sanctuary! ”says Sullivan.
“I love chocolate and am, of course, vegan, so Trupo Treats is right up my alley.”
It was a match made in vegan chocolate heaven
Ellie Mae Farm Sanctuary and Sullivan’s compassion-driven mission are right up our alley too!
“Our focus is to reduce the suffering of farmed animals and to highlight veganism,” says Sullivan. “We rescue, care for, and provide a life-long home to neglected, abused, and unwanted farmed animals.”
Ellie Mae and Blackberry (Image © Mackenzie Sullivan)
At present, Ellie Mae Farm Sanctuary is home to four cows: Blackberry, Zee, Bunky, and the eponymous Ellie Mae.
The acres of land where the micro-sanctuary is currently located isn’t quite big enough to hold a more significant number of residents, and because Sullivan and her partner, Billy, don’t live on the property, they’re unable to accept visitors or volunteers.
Sullivan says that’s going to be changing very soon.
“2021 is going to be huge for the sanctuary,” says Sullivan. “We plan on buying a much larger property . . . [and] rescuing more animals of all species once we are set up to do so. We also hope to have a large event this year to welcome everyone to the sanctuary!”
Of all the farmed animals, cows are the ones that remain closest to Sullivan’s heart.
So, fittingly, one of her favorite sanctuary rescue stories revolves around her BCFF (best cow friend forever), Ellie Mae, and her calf.
Mackenzie Sullivan and Ellie Mae (Image © Mackenzie Sullivan)
“We brought [Zee] home to the sanctuary the same day as Ellie Mae,” says Sullivan, “she was so young [and] it was absolutely beautiful to see how naive she was while getting on the trailer and how excited she was to have beautiful green pastures to run around in with her mom.”
“I think one of the most amazing things about Zee is that she has always been with her mother, and that will never change,” says Sullivan. “Zee has known nothing but love [and] compassion.”
Unlike the traumatic and devastating separation between mother cows and their babies in the dairy industry, living at Ellie Mae Farm Sanctuary means that Zee and her mother will never be torn apart, “She can grow up alongside her mom.”
On top of that, Zee’s future is bright in other ways. Unlike other female cows in the dairy industry (the life that she escaped), Zee “will never have to be forcibly impregnated or have her babies ripped away from her.”
In the safety and security of the sanctuary’s glorious, green pastures, Zee’s personality can truly shine. “A lot of people love Zee because she is goofy and adorable!”
Ellie Mae (Image © Mackenzie Sullivan)
Ellie Mae, Blackberry, and Bunky have also been able to truly be themselves at the sanctuary.
“So many people resonate with Ellie Mae being a mother and for opening their eyes to veganism. Ellie and Zee are extremely used to people, so when people come to visit, they allow people to touch them and want the attention which of course people love.”
On the other hoof, Blackberry, an 8-year-old female cow rescued from slaughter when the farmer who “owned” her retired, is much shyer. “It’s funny because this makes people want to earn her trust! People constantly comment on her beauty and how much they love her big brown eyes.”
Mackenzie Sullivan and Blackberry (Image © Mackenzie Sullivan)
When asked about partnering with us, Sullivan has nothing but kindness. “I love that you are able to spread the vegan message by making vegan candy accessible to more people. [And] that you spend so much time focusing on and highlighting animal sanctuaries.”
This all goes back to the cycle of compassion that guides Sullivan’s rescue efforts, “we hope by telling these animals stories that we can continue to spread the vegan message which will, in turn, reduce the suffering of more animals.”
Ellie Mae ( (Image © Mackenzie Sullivan)
Resident Spotlight: Ellie Mae, the cow
What would a feature on Ellie Mae Farm Sanctuary be without the eponymous bovine heroine herself? Ellie Mae!
The five-year-old Hereford cow was born in 2016 in Storrs, Connecticut, as part of the University of Connecticut’s animal agriculture program. Known simply as “H864D”, the letters and numbers stamped on her ear tag, it was Mackenzie Sullivan who bestowed the name Ellie Mae on the gentle and sensitive young cow.
Come May 31st, Ellie Mae will be celebrating her third year of freedom and refuge at the sanctuary with her daughter Zee by her side. And she couldn’t be any happier.
Although Ellie Mae is known for her relaxed and easygoing nature, she’s also highly protective of her loved ones, especially Zee.
“Ellie Mae and Zee are inseparable,” says Sullivan. “ You can instantly tell that Ellie is Zee's momma.”
“Ellie shares her affection for Zee by grooming her from head to toe. She will also moo for Zee when she is too far from her or if it's mealtime. She has a very specific moo for Zee compared to when she is hungry or needs something from me!”
Ellie also shares that nurturing with Sullivan. “Ellie shares her affection with me by grooming me as well as wrapping her huge head around me to give me a hug.”
When she’s not hanging out with Zee and her friend Blackberry, Ellie Mae can be found munching on sweetgrass, sunbathing in the pasture, or rolling her toy ball around.
Sullivan also honors Ellie Mae by celebrating her birthday every May with party hats and fresh apples as party favors!
You can support Ellie Mae Farm Sanctuary by joining their Patreon, contributing to their new property fundraiser, donating items on their wishlist, and telling your friends about the sanctuary.
Blackberry (Image © Mackenzie Sullivan)
Follow Ellie Mae Farm Sanctuary on their Facebook and Instagram to keep up with day-to-day life at the sanctuary and rescue efforts!
You, too, can help farmed animals and sanctuaries in need (like Ellie Mae and Blackberry!) all while also enjoying our chocolate when you preorder one (or all four) of our brand new chocolate bars today! 😍 🍫