Sunday, February 24, 2008


The 'Other' Herd

I’ve told you many times that without The ‘Other’ Herd, there is no Refuge Farms. And I’ve told you many times of their dedication and commitment to all of the supporting chores that need to be completed in order to keep the gates open to the public. And sometimes, I get the feeling that you read these statements and go, "Yah, yah, yah...".

Well, I want to tell you about yesterday here at THE FARM and when you’ve read this then you can draw your own conclusions. Okay?

You first need to realize that yesterday was the first day of full sunshine and 30 degree temperatures that we’ve had since mid December. It was like crawling out of a cocoon to come outside and have your eyes blinded by the brilliant sunshine on the white snow and now feel your skin tighten with the brutal cold air. What a relief! You could actually stand outside and hold a conversation without rocking to stay warm! And if you focused, you could feel the heat of the sun returning! Wonderful! Finally!

So, the fact that anyone volunteered their time at Refuge Farms yesterday was a miracle in itself. “Cabin fever” was so obvious you could almost see it walking down the driveway with us!

Kathy was here. Of course. Here early to help set up the handouts and the hot water and get the barns prepared. As usual, our leader was here to lead us in the TO DO List that was stuck to the barn door. Thank you, Kathy.

Lynn was here. She just kind of appeared and the next thing I knew she was working at creating poop piles in the barn. Lynn is a hard worker and a thorough worker. No need to check that side of the barn. It will be clean, for sure.

Sabra was here. Good to see her. I had the Helen Keller side in the barn specially so that Sabra could get her hugs from Ole’ Man Cole first thing in the morning. It had been a difficult week for Sabra and that old horse has her heart. So it was important to me to make sure she had access to him.

LB was here. Not one to dally, LB arrived, changed her boots, and went straight in to Blaise’s box stall to remove two weeks of cold weather deposits and old straw bedding. Not one to chatter or complain, LB just gets it done.

Craig was here. All the way from Eagan and in a loaner vehicle because his is in the shop. Calm and pleasant, Craig is rather new to us but a welcomed face already. He brings calm order with him when he arrives.

Cathi was here. Overdressed, as she usually is, but I was glad to see in layers this time. Soon that heavy jacket was off and she, too, was busy cleaning barns of the previous weeks droppings and trying to get the water line defrosted so water could be added to the stock tanks.

Pam was here. Immediately, she took her normal position around here – bent over the PONY! and Gracie stall floor picking their droppings out of sawdust shavings and the rubbings from the round bale in the corner. When Pam is done with that stall, it is smooth and soft again. Not a dropping is overlooked!

FB was here. All the way from Minneapolis and looking very dapper! So good to see her after this cold winter. FB has a way with words, so when the first car of guests arrived, it was FB we all looked to for the tour. Graciously, she walked out to meet our guests bringing the Missions and the love of The Herd with her.

OS Rose appeared later in the day. Her car was laden with laser cartridges and office supplies. Bless her heart and the generosity of her employer! We recycle the laser cartridges and make very good use of every piece of office supplies we are fortunate enough to receive!

So there you have the crew that gave of this beautiful Saturday in February to come to THE FARM and attack the TO DO List. And attack they did! The list was completed in its entirety. And so you get an idea of the hard work involved, here’s the list!

  1. Clean the barn. Sounds simple, but not so! The manure, in some cases, had been walked on and so a crow bar was used to pry and chip if from the frozen earth. And just how much cleaning was there? Well, the old Allis Chalmers has a big snow bucket on it and I emptied the bucket three times! That a lot of barn cleaning!
  2. Clean Blaise’s stall right down to the floor. Again, sounds simple, but not so at all! This stall has held Spirit during the cold nights of the past month and Spirit tends to lay down or pace – either one. No simple standing for her. So the floor had wet straw frozen to it and frozen manure packed on to it. But the floor is clean and visible now!
  3. Move salt blocks down to the big barn. Pam had gifted THE FARM of two mineralized salt blocks for the two sides of the big barn. Lynn took charge and got the blocks down to the big barn from the old barn and got them in their tubs. Again, not quite so simple as it sounds. You see, the Helen Keller tub had to first be chiseled to remove the frozen water and straw in it! But she got it done!
  4. Fill the birdfeeders and suet holders. This is kind of a fun task. Gets you out in the yard and away from manure for a change! There are nine oiler feeders in the yard and two suet holders. Fun but tricky! The tricky part comes in finding them all! LB took care of this one, though. Done!
  5. Sort and pack ink cartridges. An inside task that FB and Craig handled completely. We take in used ink cartridges and then have to sort them and pack them for recycling. Why do we do this? It brings in a bit of money for The Herd, of course!
  6. Sort and pack laser cartridges. This was a garage task to sort a pile of laser cartridges that had accumulated and then pack them for shipping. To do this, you need to be able to read LX6 or Q9682A and keep all the numbers straight. Again, we do this for a bit of money for The Herd. Sabra and OS Rose handled this one.
  7. Not even on the list, was the chipping and cutting of the ice so the big door to the Helen Keller side of the barn could close again. The melting snow had built up so that the door couldn’t be closed even if I had Herculean strength! I really didn’t see this happen, but I’m guessing that Kathy was in there someplace!

And during all of these tasks, we received and greeted thirteen guests. Each guest received a tour, some hands on time with a horse, and was offered a cup of hot chocolate to stay toasty inside. Thirteen people drove to us from the Twin Cities and Menomonie and even Spring Valley to check us out and get a horse fix.

I got to meet Sally from Spring Valley and put a face with the emails! We had “Joy” in the barns! Beth came and I know her from somewhere. Finally, I had to tell her why I was staring at her so. She suggested maybe I knew her from a previous life? Maybe… Emma and her Dad came. Very educated young lady, that Emma. She’s been reading books about horses!

This is the part of the day that makes us all relax and remember why we do all of the tasks on the list. The opportunity to tell the story of Spirit and Gracie and Addie-Girl. The opportunity to explain why Jeri-Ann is only two and a half years old and so darned huge and healthy! And to confirm that the big, grey tank in the pasture is really Babee Joy!

What I admire most about these people who come to give of themselves to THE FARM is that these people give of their time and their talents and their hearts and they do so with humor and smiles and true compassion for each other as well as the horses. Throughout the day, you would hear laughter and joking and the aaaahhhh’s of seeing something special. These people truly care about one another.

So there! That was how nine people spent their Saturday. Nine people drove to Refuge Farms and pitched in to attack a TO DO List and enjoy some time in a barn together on a sunny Saturday in February in Wisconsin. Now, I ask you, what is your conclusion?

See? Refuge Farms would not exist without The ‘Other’ Herd. I know that and now you know that, too. The ‘Other’ Herd is very special indeed. Maybe now you have a bit of an understanding and appreciation for when I say, again, how fortunate Refuge Farms is to be surrounded by a group of caring Human Beings who work hard so we may remain open to the public.

Thanks, crew! Hugs of thanks to each of you! From me and The Herd!

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

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