Wednesday, December 08, 2010


'Tis the Season!

This past weekend - the first weekend in December of 2010 - was true to the old Christmas song: 'Tis the Season to be jolly . . .
For me, this past weekend was a blast!

We started the weekend with snow and plenty of it! Of course, it had fallen - and was still falling - for our Christmas Applebee's breakfast! Those of us "old timers" just smile. It seems a part of the tradition to have a blizzard on our Christmas Breakfast morning! The snow and the roads did not stop the volunteers from arriving at 7:30am, donning their Santa hats, and serving up a hot meal to the guests!

Our attendance was a bit smaller than our usual breakfast due to the roads covered in snow, but the spirit of the place was typical of us. There was laughter and joy everywhere!

Our crew on the floor was a mix of "newbies" and "old-timers". Some of the newbies were friends and family of our Sister in Rescue, Shar. These women worked well and with a smile. Willing to bus or serve or do whatever was asked of them, they pitched in for the general cause of rescuing horses. Ya gotta love 'em!

The "old-timers" are called that strictly on an experience level basis - nothing to do with age! We have the Webb family who single-handedly managed all positions on the north side of the restaurant by themselves. This family has been volunteering at Refuge Farms for six years now and it is an honor and a thrill to watch these little children grow into fine, considerate, polite, and contributing adults. Mom - you are doing a fine job of raising them!

Then there are the volunteers who found their way to Menomonie - on those roads! - from South St. Paul and even Maplewood! Snow? Yes, there was snow. "But we just left a little early," was their comment about the drive. The dedication of these people humbles me. What a privilege to be a part of a mission that is supported by such quality Human Beings.

The kitchen crew? Well, that was a gift that was strictly from the heavens! You see, Gen is an experienced restaurant cook! My work entailed introducing Gen to the Applebee's staff person and then just getting out of the way. It was handled, as they say!

And Eric? I don't really know this man too well. Have met him only a few times. But the atmosphere of the man is one of calm and peace and gentleness. He's the kind of person you like to just stand next to. Eric is a keeper, as my Mom would say. And I am thrilled to have him with us on these events.

We served breakfast and then our guests were given the opportunity to shop our bake sale for their sweet tooths or for gift giving. I heard many say that "I can get some of my shopping done here!" The table was filled with homemade treats for us humans, our dogs, and even our horses! Everything from cookies and brownies to pies and breads. From seasoned crackers to Colleen's homemade salsa - which, by the way, is developing a following all on its own!

The "aaahhhhh" of the bake sale was this: pickled beets. And, you ask, what is so special about pickled beets? Well, for starters, not many people have the talent or will take the time to make them anymore. Colleen's Mom made jars of pickled beets for us this year. And they flew off the table! But these pickled beets were very, very special. You see, the beets came from Ole' Man Cole's Sharing Garden. Yes, Cole was with us again this December. An appropriate tribute on his one year crossing, don't you think?

After the dishes were bused back to the kitchen, someone had to wade through the gooey mess and sort the silverware from the plates from the cups from the glasses from the trash. Someone had to rinse and stack and run the trays through the big dishwasher. And someone had to do that all by herself and keep up with the flow! That talent is none other than The Professor! Glad to have you, Tracy!

This particular breakfast was the "kickoff" for the Building Committee, as well. Tom and Julie were there to present the committee, inform people of the committee and its purpose, and to kickoff the raffle. Tom came armed with
pictures of the old barn walls that are literally heading east and south as well as a few shots of a roof that is crumbling into little pieces. And raffle tickets. There is a raffle with the first prize being a quarter of their homegrown, organic beef right off of their farm in Ellsworth. There will be more information about this raffle, but if you want to get a jump on it, just email or call THE FARM and we'll get you tickets. They sell for $5 each or 3 for $10 and all monies raised will go to the Building Fund. The drawing is January 31st - just in time for the Super Bowl!

Who is Tom you ask? He's the dude in the hat . . .

So, the weekend began with a storm and a fundraiser. Good people supporting the missions and good friends to see again right before the busy holiday season gets into full swing. I had a blast! And little did I know it was just the beginning . . .

Sunday morning saw some of us grouping together to head out to another breakfast. Not to work this one. Nope, we attended this one. Supported the cause of the organization hosting the breakfast. We traveled to the Zuhrah Shrine Horse Patrol Barn in Maple Plain, MN and ate breakfast with good friends.

Chris greeted us and insured we had a tour of the facility. The meeting rooms upstairs, the barns (oh, I can dream . . . !) and the arena. Even the Minneapolis Mounted Police Barns were opened to us.

The food was great and we ate! Two helpings for most of us! Larry spent time with us and told us the history of the land acquisition, the building of the barns and the arena, and also the challenges of having such a property "in the city". Great hospitality and great friends. I am pleased and again honored and humbled to made the acquaintance of this group of men and their horses. We are so similar and it is a joy to spend time with such a successful organization.

But the highlight of the day, no . . . the highlight of the season!. . . came when we went into the arena. There in his saddle was Randy. The Refuge Farms rescue horse who made his appearance at The Refuge Farms Fall Gala & Auction in early November. The horse who once was depressed and thin and without a future other than that of death. There stood Randy. And my heart burst!

It was only a matter of minutes later and we were given the opportunity to ride this horse. This little rescue horse who is spoiled rotten now! Who has a tummy sticking out over his cinch strap! And who drooled for the boiled carrots that Pam brought for him! This little horse is what we do. Just like Dude and Laddee and Handsome and Gracie. Randy is what we do.

I'm going to stop talking now and just let the pictures tell the story. But only before I tell you what I told the volunteers that morning:

The next time you get an email asking you to help fold and tape and label 2,000 newsletters. The next time you get an email asking you to help fold and stamp and label 2,000 gala invitations. The next time you are asked to sell Younker's coupon books. Or sell bulbs. Or sell cheesecakes. Or get pledges for The Walk. Or you are asked to work the public hours. Or help clean barns. Or whatever it is that we ask the volunteers to support. The next time you get that email and you may hesitate . . . remember Randy.

As I told the volunteers on Sunday morning, all that work, all those hours, all that time is for this. This horse. And hundreds like him. Your efforts now have a face. And it is the face of this horse. The face of Randy.

Enjoy the pictures and be thrilled that our work and our resources saved this horse's life! This is just one of over 700 horses that we have given an option. A future. A chance.

It is the season of joy and celebration. It is the season that we celebrate a birth. I daresay, that Randy has been reborn and it is Christmas for this horse every single day.

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

Thanks, Tom, for the pictures!

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