Sunday, March 13, 2011


You Are Invited!

This past span of fourteen days has been a roller coaster of a ride! My knee continues to heal, although I challenge it every single day with trips to the barns, assistance in raising Liz-Beth when needed, working full days at the antique store, and generally just pushing it farther than it should be pushed so soon after surgery.

But as I tell myself, I will rest in just a bit more time. Isaac is coming to trim the herd tomorrow and Tuesday. Work beckons again next week, and then there are the spring dewormings and vaccinations. Once caught up with these tasks, there will be time enough for resting and icing of that knee.

Until then, the brunt of the hard labor rests on the shoulders of the volunteers. Yesterday, the week's worth of pellet bags magically appeared in the kitchen. Without asking. The piles of boxes of used cat litter found their way to the dumpster. Without asking. Upstairs litter boxes were changed and feed and water bowls refreshed. Without asking. I am weak with words and feeling so unable to express my appreciation to those of you who return - week after week - to do what is needed. Without asking.

My only gift to you is to tell you what my Mom told me when I asked her why we always delivered a hot dish to certain families. Why did we give our clean, newly ironed clothes to another family. My Mom would look at me and say, simply, "We are earning our wings, Sandy." Didn't have a clue at the time. Now, I think I'm seeing her logic. In today's language, my Mom would say that you are paying forward. Thank you.

This week has also seen strong, honest, and gut-wrenching conversations about what the Missions of Refuge Farms really are. I have been challenged to rescue more "saveable" horses so we can adopt them. I have been challenged to euthanize rather than treat. And I have been challenged to set a price tag before "pulling the plug". All good, worthy challenges.

We are a non-profit. We have limits to our resources. We are not unlike every other little non-profit who is struggling to meet the demands for our services and still maintain the health of our organization. It would be so easy to overpopulate and bring us to our knees! It would be so easy just to go under! To stay afloat and find ways to keep the doors open is the challenge. And, I'm telling you, it is a big battle that never, ever gets any easier!

On the 26th of March, Refuge Farms is holding the first of two Volunteer Training sessions. Attendance at one of these sessions is the only mandatory meeting for a Refuge Farms volunteer in the entire year. Volunteering is just that - the giving of yourself. So mandatory meetings tend to make me wince, but the legalities of operating a non-profit with liabilities and risks and laws makes this training mandatory. And so it is.

I am so looking forward to these sessions!

First of all, the University of Wisconsin - Stout Graduate Program has become involved with Refuge Farms and two of the students have taken our Ways of THE FARM and remodeled the entire approach. A much needed task that I never could get around to getting accomplished, it is now in the final stages and I am thrilled! Patrick and Jamie, the students, visited THE FARM on one of the coldest Saturday morning's we've had in quite some time and we hooked and fed. We acted as if they were new guests to THE FARM who were interested in volunteering.

Patrick is 6'4", and so I sent him to retrieve Lanna. Good lessons learned. Jamie is a dog rescuer, in the past, and so I sent her to retrieve Spirit. More lessons learned. From this experience, the text of the document came to life and their approach to the project of rewriting - heck, creating! - the Volunteer Handbook was fine tuned.

Both students will participate in the training class on the 26th. And I'm thinking you will be impressed with what they have grasped and their efforts to take a monster of a text and create a meaningful handbook for you.

We have Amy attending to teach us about a new fundraising technique. Wait! Before you roll your eyes! You'll like this. No one has to sell one single ticket to anything!

And we will discuss what it is that we do at Refuge Farms. What is our Mission? What is a "dier"? What is a "sanctuary" versus a "rescue" horse? What is it that we do? Really.

I look forward to this discussion. We have some numbers - facts! - from the University of Minnesota that show you investments over the past few years. You will be surprised. Those that viewed the numbers in the past week were taken off guard. The numbers were "not as expected". Good visibility. Great examples. As one said, "This puts meat on the bones of the Missions".

I look forward to this session. We, as a group, need to discuss. That means we all need to talk. To voice our concerns. To clarify the questions in our own minds. We all need to talk about our Missions so we are all of one mind. These past few years have thrown some big challenges our way. Dudely. Handsome. Now, Gracie. Liz-Beth. And, of course, Laddee.

We need to talk about them. What do we commit to? What do we do for them? For how long? And why?

Those of you who have separated from THE FARM in the past few months because of concerns over Laddee - I would encourage you to attend the class. Hear the Missions stated clearly and plainly. See the numbers. I'm not asking any of you to change your minds! I'm asking only that you listen and attempt to understand.

Refuge Farms is an organization built upon a challenge. And a set of promises given. How do we keep those promises? How do we work to meet the challenge? And how have we changed our promises and the efforts of the challenge given the world and how it is changing around us?

I had planned to write another story today. Another blog of a totally different nature. But this morning, as I hooked and fed The Herd, I felt the need to get this message out there. And encourage those of you who have questions, who have issues, who have concerns, to attend the meeting. No need to sign up to be a volunteer! Just come and listen. Participate. Hear. And, hopefully, understand our position.

This meeting is a process in my mind: many individuals coming into a room. Chatter. Laughter. Tears. Questions. And then at the close, one body going out into the world. Solidified in The Missions.

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

Meeting Specifics:

Saturday, March 26th, 2011
Beginning promptly at 10am
Bring your own lunch and beverages
Anticipated completion by 2pm
Menomonie Public Library Community Room
600 Wolske Bay Road, Menomonie

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