Sunday, February 18, 2007


Catching Up

Hello, there! It’s been a while since I’ve written to you. So I have many things to tell you because so much has happened since we talked last...

The record setting cold came upon us and seemed to stay forever! It was brutal, to put it mildly. On Monday, the 5th, at about 4am, the thermometer in the barn read 28 degrees below zero. And that was out of the wind! Your skin hurt at the first step outside. Foot warmers barely kept your feet from freezing with two pair of wools socks! And your hands! Dear heavens! In seconds your hands were hurting and aching with the cold!

But The Herd was sturdy. Our routines were modified to add for extra feedings and blanketing and hot beet pulp and brushings and sheltering horses in barns out of the winds…. Everything we could think of to help them withstand the cruelty of the winds and frigid temperatures.

The babies - Babee Joy, Unit, and Jeri-Ann - were amazing. They are young and strong and really didn’t miss a beat during the entire episode. Their presence was refreshing and caused me to appreciate the absolute beauty of health. As I shook my head in disbelief, I recalled that my Mom had often told me, “When you have your health, you have everything.” Once again, my Mom was right!

The worst of the weather has moved on and we actually will see moderate temps very soon. In fact, they are promising that tomorrow will bring 30 degrees – above zero! So maybe, just maybe, all of the horses will be out in the pasture without blankets! For the first time in weeks! What a relief for all of us!

Valentine’s Day has just passed. I received several cards, each one so very precious to me. And even some chocolates! Somehow, people know the way to my heart... hhmmm. But one card stood out to me... it was from “The Kids”. My kids. The horses. It said, “M O M is like another word for love and we Mom you, Mom.”

My reaction? I smiled. And I cried. Been doing a bit of that lately. I’m weary. I don’t mind telling you that I’m tired from the inside out. These past few weeks and the weather have taken their toll. But with the help of The ‘Other’ Herd, we’ve come through a bitter span of winter the likes that I haven’t seen (or felt!) in several years!

I must personally thank Kathy M., and Cathi C., and Betty G. the Human, and Tara B., and Lynn S. Their help made the difference for me and The Herd. Hugs to all of you from me and The Kids.

On another topic, our Famous Barb wrote an editorial about the crossing of Barbaros and, in her way, brought Refuge Farms to the forefront. The letter was well written, of course, and truly impressed me with its message. The article was published and has also impacted others as was evidenced by hits to our website. So thank you, FB, for utilizing your skills and expressing your heart to the benefit of Refuge Farms! And of course, your team of supporters must be mentioned – Vincent V., Tammy C., and Cathi C. But FB, you must remember that I knew you before you were famous!

This past Friday evening saw Refuge Farms exhibiting at the annual Eau Claire Humane Association “Better in Show” event. We were surrounded by dogs and cats and ferrets and snakes and guinea pigs and who knows what else! But we also found ourselves surrounded by people of like hearts and this event is medicine for us. In the middle of winter, we take time to tell our stories to people who ask and are willing to listen. It feels like therapy, in a way. I felt rejuvenated driving home…funny…. but it felt good to tell the missions out loud again. Almost like I needed to hear them again, myself!

Our Management Team grew by one since we’ve talked last, too. Cathi C. has joined us as our Marketing Manager and brings with her a wealth of experience, a kind and giving soul, and a passion for THE FARM that seems to just be a natural state for her. We welcome you, Cathi, and embrace your fresh ideas and skills. Bless you for volunteering to work so hard!

And you know that all of this chatter is dancing around the one huge fact that our Big Jim has crossed, too. On that brutally cold morning of February 5th, his gentle spirit lifted up and moved on to his new life. It was his decision and his timing and I have only gratitude and respect for his decision and his ways. Big Jim selected the time and crossed in such a manner that I had no opportunity to help him. To beg him to stay a bit longer. To try to lift him up once more. He saved a few of those last moments of his life to share with me, but he crossed all on his own and in his own way. A truly kind gesture, actually.

But I must tell you, that his leaving has broken my little heart and his huge absence has left a huge bleeding hole in my very soul. Once again, I’m cold from the inside out. And once again I know time will heal the worst of the wound. But I truly doubt that another like him will ever grace my life again. That was a one-of-a-kind animal. Perhaps the most gentle and forgiving animal I have ever known. With the crossing of Big Jim, I feel the passing of a generation.

Out of true and honest respect and out of true and honest love I tell you that I have been genuinely blessed and honored to have known Big Jim. He graced my barns for a long time and never failed to serve our missions when asked. Jimmer allowed me to care for him and I did the very best I knew how. I loved him. A foundation horse.

One of our logo horses. And a minister of mercy every single day of his life with us. Asking for very little and giving tons back. Huge in body and of spirit. Bless you, Jimmer. You were truly pure of heart and gentle of soul.

So I had much to share with you - good wishes from Valentines, happy news of being published, relief of the passing of that forever-brutal arctic front, the excitement of the ECHA show, a new Management Team member, and true grief at the crossing of Big Jim. In all of this – the extremes of the temperatures and the extremes of my heart – one thing has remained constant.

I have never once doubted that what we do here is good. I have never once doubted that the worry and the work and the loss of sleep were worth it. I have never once doubted that this mission is making a difference in the world around us. At times, the load seems heavier than normal, but there is healing found here. Healing for all of us. We are all blessed by these rejected horses who show us daily how to forgive, to love, to play, to respect, to grieve, to remain loyal, to tolerate, to accept, and to live – truly live – each day to its fullest!

With that I will close and wish all of you peace in your heart and love in your life.

Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandy and The Herd

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