Sunday, September 19, 2010


A Week of Good Things

It seems like years ago that a weak, dehydrated, blue eye'd stallion managed to roll out of the trailer and lay in the grass of the yard. He was so weak that I honestly thought we were bringing him home to euthanize him. I could not leave him behind to suffocate and so we loaded him and brought him back to Refuge Farms. THIS was a dier. And he would soon be gone.

One thing that I overlooked was the will of this horse. He wanted to live. And he did live. It was a long journey for Dude, as we called him. His starvation took him months to overcome. And then, just when it appeared that he was recovered from the worst of the starvation and healed from the gelding surgery, this beautiful horse showed us his true injury - a broken jaw.

Surgery was the only option and so we invested our resources and our efforts to save his life once again. Never once has he shown us that our decision was a mistake. On the contrary. This horse was a gentleman at all times and a pleasure in the barns. He was grateful and obedient. When called to eat, he would stand quietly at his assigned place awaiting the halter and his bucket. Unlike the others who played around and wandered everywhere, Dudely was grateful. Almost reverent to his food.

It has been a full eighteen months since we found this half dead stallion. And this past week, I carried Dudely in the trailer to his new, forever home. A bitter sweet event since we had all grown to love him so. But his attachment to his new owner is already showing me that he belongs with Wanda. And Wanda? Well, she just says,
"He is a magic horse, Sandy!"

It was a cold, rainy day when I traveled to eastern Wisconsin. Dude was accompanied by the Clyde Mare whom Wanda will work to restore to a healthier state over the winter. Clyde Mare instantly fell in love with this handsome specimen of a horse. Heck, if I was a horse I would fall in love with him, too! Those eyes! How could you ever get past those eyes?

Wanda was ready. A new shelter had been built and the bucket holders and eye bolts were ready. The fence was up and tested. The water barrels were ready. The pasture had been mowed and cleared of anything that may cause a problem. Feed was in the feed barrels. Wanda would not unload the horses until she had walked the pastures and reviewed the setup with me. Did it meet with my approval?

As I looked at the fence line, I commented that it was thoughtful of her to mark the fence so the hunters would see the lines. "Hunters?" she asked. "That's not for the hunters. They're on their own. That's for the horses so they can easily see the lines!" I knew I had made the right decision right then and there.

Dudely has a good, good home. Wanda has loved this horse for quite some time. You see, on the second day that Dude was here, when he still was down more than he was up, Wanda appeared in the driveway. On that very day, Wanda fell in love with Dude. The skinny, dehydrated, cautious stallion who was so weak he could barely stand. Over the months, Wanda has continued to visit Dudely and finally, the stage was set. It was time. It was time for Wanda to adopt Dude.

Now, it's not like I sat quietly to wait for Wanda. No, I advertised Dude on the website and he appeared in multiple newsletters asking for an adoptive home. But as I tell Wanda now, it was meant that he go to live with her. Because no one - not one person - stepped up to ask about this horse. It was The Master Plan at its best, I believe, that Dudely would go to live with Wanda. And the smile on her face proves me right, doesn't it?

After what seemed like weeks of overcast and cold, rainy days the sun appeared. The warmth could be felt on our shoulders and all of our spirits lifted. The sun was back! What a beautiful day it was! And made even more so by the presence of some very special people in these very special barns.

Saturday was the End of Summer Celebration hosted by the Refuge Farms Garden Club. A special thanks needs to go out to Colleen B. and Pam W. of the Garden Club for their work and diligence in preparing the meal. They whipped up tables, found table cloths, found spoons, pots to boil the corn in, and Pam found the most delicious corn I have ever tasted. Bravo, Ladies! Job well done!

Me? Well I left the cooking to those most able and headed out to the barns to hook and feed. I was accompanied by Tom and Julie, Anne and Roger, Nancy and her friends from way up in Coon Rapids, MN. Betty was here (with her brownies!!), and Sarah brought Adria, Austin, and little five month old Avery. She also brought Jared (as in Country Jam Jared) and his family - wife Missy carrying unborn baby. Sarah grandparents, Jack and Pat, were here, too. Rosalie arrived and Jim was here. Bridget joined us and I was feeling so blessed. So many good, good people here to share in the admiration and love of these horses.

We ate a delicious meal and then off to the barns to socialize with the horses. Some were de-burr'd. Others were brushed. All that could have treats had carrots freshly pulled out of Cole's Sharing Garden - greens and all! Jared spent some time with Sandy and must have brushed a bucket full of hair off that mare. What a transformation we are seeing in that horse. From a little bull in a china shop to a quiet, loving horse. I told her just this morning that she was becoming a star . . .

It was a wonderful day. Great stories. Good camaraderie. Lots of horse touching. And tons of horse hair on us. And the sunshine. Tell me, if you would, just how does it get any better than this?

Throughout the day, I tried to remember in my mind some of the words and phrases I heard throughout the day. I wanted to pass them on to you so you, too, could feel the impact these horses have on those who care for them. These are not just horses to us. These are our friends. Our trusted pals. We love and care for them. And work hard for them.

I heard words like "life changing experience", "found that focus again", "just love those horses", "find peace here", "I will never be the same", "there was a purpose to it all", "Beauty looked at me and that was it", "Refuge Farms came up on an internet search", "she loves horses and especially that Ole' Cole". My heart was bursting with appreciation for what these people were saying. I knew of their hearts for I, too, have found the peace of these barns and I, too, will never be the same after knowing them. I felt a true purpose while listening to each of you. A good solid purpose with rewards beyond measurement!

It was a grand day! Thank you for spending your beautiful Saturday afternoon at THE FARM. I so enjoyed each and every one of you! But more than that, I enjoyed watching you as you enjoyed them. THIS is why we are here. To rescue these diers and then to offer them to you so that you may find them, too.

Neither one of them were far from us yesterday. Little Adria brought a picture of she and Cole eating apples together that we placed on his grave. And Laddee's halter and picture were adorning her as well. Both of these horses brought their energy to us yesterday and blessed us with their spirits: Cole gave us the humor and the spunk of the day and Laddee gave us the hugs and the love of the day.

Like the sign says, we gathered because of Laddee. Once more this summer we needed to meet and share our stories of her. And then because of Cole and his Sharing Garden, we ate. Two of the greatest of all the Horse Ministers still helping us to care for one another. And for them.

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

Sunday, September 12, 2010


End of Summer Celebration

Sometime in the last two weeks, it seems like a month has gone by. Just days (weeks) ago I was complaining about the heat and rain and saying, “Well, I’m not ready for winter, but I am ready for fall.”

After complaining more than once on the heat - 90 and humid - I saw areas of the nation with 100 degrees and more in heat index, and I thought, “Stop complaining, we are lucky!"

After complaining more than once about the rain, I watched the devastating news of the Pakistan floods, and I thought, “Stop complaining and start being grateful, we are really, really lucky!"

Well, it’s fall now to be sure. In all, we have had a good summer, and have much to be thankful for and to celebrate. And so The Gardening Club would like to invite you to our “End of Summer Celebration"!

This spring we planted Cole’s Sharing Garden and it has done quite well for a first-time attempt. Our peas didn’t fare too well, but the beans and radishes did okay, the onions, carrots, and beets took off great, and the corn beat the odds after being flattened during a thunderstorm. It came back and continued to grow, and now we have corn-on-the-cob to look forward to!

This celebration will be held Saturday, September 18th from 12 noon to 3 pm at THE FARM. We will cook up the corn until we either run out of corn or people to feed, whichever comes first!

Everyone is welcome! Bring drinks and a dish to pass if you would like, and lawn chairs, too. If it rains, we will all lounge out in the barn! Perhaps we’ll lounge out there anyway, as that is where all the quality personalities are!

We’ll talk of Old Man Cole and his love of apples, carrots, and beets. We’ll remember Princess Laddee with a tear or two, and pay our respects to her (she is resting very near Cole, you know).

We’ll talk about plans for the upcoming Fall Gala, and think up ideas for new desserts to bring to the Applebee’s breakfast.

And we’ll thank each other, for all the hard work we see that we do for THE FARM. Then we can end the day by brushing the horses and spending time with them. Sounds like the perfect fall afternoon – we are hoping to see you there!

Colleen B.
Refuge Farms Volunteer

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