Sunday, February 28, 2010


The 2009 Guest Book

Every year at this time, there are tasks that must be completed. Tasks that involve hours and hours and hours of paperwork at the desk. Auditing the expense log to insure expenses were not missed or miskeyed. To insure each expense was booked to the proper account. Best to audit them before the auditor audits them!

Also to be audited is a detailed review of every event held in the year. Public hours, breakfasts at Applebee's, antique and garage sales, bulb sales, cheesecake sales, Country Jam, the Gala . . . Oh! The work we do in a year to raise the funds to save the lives! I sit at my desk and shake my head in wonderment.

The volunteers are the backbone of this organization. And they are there. Everytime, they are there. To work an event. To plan the event. To gather donations for the events. How do you thank these people who give and give of their hands, their hearts, and their backs? How do you show them your gratitude? Maybe, you give them time with the horses to love and pet and just be with them. Maybe, you give them time with the very creatures they have worked so hard to salvage. Let the horses thank them. Let the horses show them. Let the magic happen for these volunteers, too.

Then there is the audit of the donations. Insuring that all donations are recorded and that end-of-year recaps are mailed. Handwriting notes and envelopes by the dozens. Once again, coming in touch with those Friends of THE FARM that believe in us and support us. People who make our work possible. I find it difficult to express my gratitude. Sometimes the words fall woefully short of showing the appreciation for their gifts. How do you thank someone for the lives saved from their kindness? It is at these times I feel very inadequate and unable to complete the tasks in front of me. I am humbled, to say the least.

And at the end of this process, it is time to recap the hours and efforts and accomplishments of the year. It is time to recap the horses rescued, re-homed, and lost. Grief often overcomes me as I think of those we lost. Joy overcomes me as I recall the re-homing and the follow-up visits of fat and happy horses with their new loving owners. A feeling of inadequacy overcomes me as I remember those we missed or those we could not rescue. Those we could not get to in time. Knowing, all the while, that all of our hard work is but a hair on a horse's back. We are but a blip in the screen of the unwanted horse. But our blip is there, nonetheless, and I try to take comfort in the lives that we were able to help.

It is then that I pull out the Guest Book for 2009. This book is a simple three-ring binder with pages for our guests to sign when they visit. There is the typical name and address information but also room for comments. It is those comments that I want to share with you. Here are some of the notes from our guests:

"What a blessing to visit this Farm. Heaven here on earth."

This note came from a family that visited us last March. It was a cold and windy day. The horses were stoic and not the least bit interested in us. They only wanted shelter from the raw March winds. We talked and the visit was brief. They got "it" though. Fellow horse owners, this family got "it" for sure. Everyone of them - the parents and the youngsters. They all got "it".

And then there are the notes from Memorial Day Public Hours. Our first Public Hours at the beginning of the new season. Another summer of rescue. So full of hope and optimism! So many possibilities! And, it seems, so much time!
A whole summer ahead of us!

"Keep up the good work everyone! What you do is awesome!"

"God Bless"

"Forever in my prayers!"

"Great to see the horses & all (the) workers. Thanks!"

"You are doing a great job"


"Interesting - Good to see these horses have a good home!"

And then one of my favorites from the entire season:

"This place is so AWESOME!!"

At the end of a Public Hours day, those of us who hosted our guests sit and rehash the day. We tell stories of who was here, what they said, the questions they asked, how the horses responded to them, and who seemed to connect with which horse. We always - read that as always - conclude that the day was well worth the effort. Opening our barns to the public, free of charge, to share these horse ministers is what we do. To show our works and our successes. To share our hopes for those who are struggling. And to offer these horses to the humans who may also be struggling.

Many times, horse lovers just want to see the horses that are here. They want to see Jeri-Ann and test, for themselves, her height and estimate her weight. They want to see, for themselves, this blue roan that we call Babee Joy. They want to touch the empty eye socket on Handsome's face. And they want to see, for themselves, the horse that was near death on Easter Sunday. Horse lovers that just want to love a few more horses.

Later in the summer, a group of women toured with Meg, a talented and generous woman who created a special quilt for our Fall Gala & Auction. These women were not farm women or even horse women. They were women with kind hearts and curious minds. We talked and I told them a few stories. Select stories. Not the worst of the stories. Some of the more gentle stories. Still, tears rolled and heads were shaking at the inhumanity of humanity. Their notes say it all:

"I was very moved by Sandy and the family. My heart ached the whole time - in a good way."

"Very enjoyable afternoon meeting Sandy & her family. Some of the stories are so heartwarming."

What grabbed me about these notes was two things - the raw impact these horses had on these women and the use of the word "family". I would say these women got "it", too.

There is one page in the 2009 Guest Book that says it all, though. Says it all! During the season, a family visited us from Woodbury, MN. A young family with children. Children that were loved and shown the eye of Laddee. The leg of Miss Bette. The knee of Spirit. And the joy of Unit. They hugged Gracie and looked deep into her blind eyes. Then they kissed her. Gently and with great love and caring.

It is the little ones that grab you the most. The little hearts that are so innocent and so gracious. They look beyond the pus and the scars and the wounds and the blindness. They look into the hearts of these discarded horses and they see the beauty and wonder within. These children are the ones we try to reach. If only one child is changed in a season. If only one child finds the true meaning of forgiveness in the empty socket of Handsome's face. Putting their little hand in that empty socket and then looking at this enormous horse who forgives all humans . . . . Those are the memories that you take to bed with you at the close of the day.

So, at the end of the year there is a mile of paperwork. Auditing and re-auditing yourself. Plans for the coming year. Goals and schedules. But buried in all of these tasks are the hopes that during the visits - an unscheduled tour, a Vacation Bible School group coming to perform community work, or during Public Hours - one Human Being will be touched by one of these horse ministers. Just one.

And then, regardless of what happens in the remainder of the year, it has been a successful year. A year of memories and pictures. And those precious, tender notes in the Guest Book.

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

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