Tuesday, September 19, 2006


What a day!

It's Tuesday morning and time to get back in to the "normal" routine of chores, work, chores, sleep. And here I sit. Still overwhelmed by Sunday's event and totally at a loss of how to tell you about it. Odd, isn't it, that I'm at a loss for words???

But let's start with the weather. The one thing I kept telling everyone (and myself!) all week long, was that we had no control over the weather and so why worry about it? Well, it was raining Sunday morning. And it was windy. And it was raw. It was just plain icky outside. The forecast had been for rain on Saturday and Saturday had been a glorious fall day with tons of sunshine! And now, on Sunday, when the sun was supposed to be out, it was raining! No matter how many times I turned my head upward and pleaded, "PLEASE??!!", it continued to rain.

A farrier came to do a last minute trim on Big Guy and Beauty. He was due at 8:30 am. At 9:15 am, I left a voice mail message -- as calm as I could be -- and just asked if, by chance, he had forgotten about us? But nope, here he came in the driveway and the trimming began.

As I stood in the barn during the trimming, I surveyed the yards as calmly as I possibly could. The volunteers were all here - they had been here since 7 am! But everyone was just kind of standing around. And not because everything was done, no indeed! It seemed to me that nothing was done! Everyone was just kind of waiting to set things up when (or if?) the rain stopped! And it was still raining at 11 am!

But then, "it" happened. Just like "it" always does. And I, the one of so little faith, am always in awe when "it" happens. At 11:15 am, just 45 minutes before we open to the public for our Great Annual Event, the sun broke through! And the final foot came down from being trimmed! And Jim D'Angelo arrived to take photographs! And the volunteers FLEW in to action to set everything up! And I ran horses back to the barns! And Applebee's® fired up the grills! And the cars began arriving!

Just as I had requested, at 11:15 am the clouds parted and it was said, "Let there be an Open Barn!"

We had a glorious time! 300 people joined us in the yard to hear a few horses stories. We brought in big, shiny Beauty - still a bit tentative and more than anything, a bit spooked with my voice over a PA system. But she did well! I am so proud of her!

And then Charlie brought in Big Guy. It was amazing. A big, kind-hearted man telling the story of a big, kind-hearted horse. The two seemed like one soul to me. I usually am very composed on this day because I know once the tears start I'll have trouble turning them off. But Charlie and Big Guy gave me an opportunity to wash the dust off my face. It was meant to be that these two meet each other. Thank you, Charlie.

Then the Foundation, as I called them, came in. Jimmer, April, and Bonita. The original corner stones that are still with us - against all vet predictions! - and still giving us reasons to have faith and hope and determination and persistence. What a picture those 3 are to me! Big, slow, cautious Jimmer! Strong, head-tossing April! And proud, elegant, and righteous Bonita! My heart was busting with love and appreciation for them!

Then the curves started getting tossed to Kathy. "Let's bring in Unit!" I said to her. "And the Babies!" Kathy's eyes showed me that she had suspected I would say something like this, but still, none of these horses had ever been in the presentation before!! But in they came!

Unit did a pretty good job of giving Cass a handful. My mistake, Cass. We brought Unit in before Babee-Joy and Jeri-Ann. But you did a good job hanging on to that little powerhouse!

And Babee-Joy and Jeri-Ann showed us all what they are made of! They are calm and curious and they like people and yes, they are the New Foundation. These are the future of Refuge Farms. Balloons came blowing in to the corral, Applebee's® food smells were everywhere, kids were running and playing and there was that PA system! But these 3 horses showed us all that they are ready and able. Hallelujah!

Gracie and PONY! came in to the corral, too. Not seeing where their chaperones were taking them, but trusting all the same. And behaving like the lady and gentleman that they are! Gracie was most curious about where she was and why, but she soon caught on. She knew there were people close by and she just did "her thing". PONY! came in with Mechanical Mary and was surprisingly poised and polite! It seemed to me that PONY! was more interested in what was cooking over at the food tent than anything!

Bob and Mike Link came with their huge, Belgian team and gave free wagon rides for the kids (of all ages!). And this they did on less than 24 hours notice! You see, Russell, our usual wagon driver, is in the hospital fighting leukemia right now. Our prayers are with you, Russell, and with you, Rhea. Heal, dear man.

A few telephone calls and I connected with Mike Link...Would you consider? Could you please? I have children coming for free wagon rides! The answer was quick and so very generous. "Sure, Sandy, we'll be there." Nice people. Much appreciation to Mike and Bob and, of course, Pete and Chip!

Jingles, the Clown was there with his bell trimmed feet! What a sight to look out in to the crowd and see that big smile looking back at you! You just couldn't help but smile back at that face!

Gayle Adams and her artwork came and set up. Dennis Spader and his magnets came and set up. Linda Halvorson and her Wissota Jewelry came and set up. Eric Vanasse and his Winkler Buildings display came and set up. Terry Brabos and his Valley Feeds Nutrena information came and set up. Beth Crandall had her paintings on display (although we put Beth, one of our volunteers, to work that day!). And Jeff Hines came and topped the entire afternoon off with our live auction!

The auction was noisey and fun, thanks to Jeff and all the bidders! The baskets have long since gone to their new homes and I'm sure people have dug in to them and have emptied them and are pleased with their purchases.

Terry, from Valley Feeds, had an event promotion going....buy 10 bags of feed for THE FARM and Terry will donate 2 more bags. Great idea! Thank you, Terry! By the end of the afternoon, the generosity of our supporters and Terry has feed in storage for the month of January! Thank you to Terry and all of you from me and those horses of ours!

What an afternoon! It was about 5 or so, I think, when I turned around and that wonderful "Other Herd" had kicked in gear. Tables were flying in to trailers, trash was picked up, boards were back on fence lines, gates were rehung, papers were packed and put in the house! It was like you said, "READY. SET. GO!!!" This group of women worked hard and fast! All I had to do was stand still for a moment and soak it all in.

During the last moments of the day, I was presented with a special surprise that Gayle had for me. A simple fired pot with Jerry hair in it and braided around it. I cannot express the comfort that piece of clay brings to me. What a way to close the day! Thank you. That big Buppa was with me all day long. I could feel his breath on my neck. And because of this pot, I actually got to really touch the hair of his mane at the close of the day. Glorious!

So, another Annual Open Barn Event is over. Kind of. Over by the calendar. But still being relived again and again in my head. Thank you to the volunteers who worked so hard! To Kathy for being everywhere! To all of you who came the weeks and nights before! To Tara who single-handedly got those canopies up by the light of Kathy's wind-up flashlight (can't you just picture that one?). Thank you to all the sponsors who donated your goods and services for our auction! And to all of you who joined us on that sunny, warm, and beautiful Sunday afternoon!

We're here. Still. Against all of the odds. Even when the checkbook says we shouldn't be here. We are here. It's those 3 promises, you know...

Enjoy the journey of each and every day and see you next year at the 6th Annual!

Sandy and The Herd

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