Sunday, March 18, 2012


So, What's New?

Last evening, the telephone rang. When I answered it, a good friend said hello by asking, "So, what's new?" Smart. This friend of mine is smart. I started at the top and filled her in on the highlights of the week. And so, as you ask what's going on at Refuge Farms this spring, I'll tell you, too!

In the house, everyone is well. Peanut continues to grow and her little sister, Crooked Sister, as I call her, is filling out and learning to play. Her head is still tilted but she is adorable and truly the sister of Peanut. Almost immediately after bringing her into the house, Peanut began grooming the little kitten with the crooked neck. Sisters, that's for sure.

Remember how Peanut and Opey-Dopey used to share the bed on the counter? Remember how tiny she was? Well, they still share that bed but Peanut isn't so tiny anymore! She is a long, sleek little girl growing into a lovely lady, isn't she?

Outside it is spring and a time for clean-up and projects. Friday was the first of several hard working days with several projects to complete. Bridget and Chad and Rebecca and Shar arrived in the morning and we treated each horse in The Herd for summer flies, lice, mites, and ticks. It is a new treatment and my hopes are that it will help repel some of the summer face flies and the ticks that can now be so deadly to a horse. Much like applying the tick meds to a dog, it required that each horse had its spine cleaned and brushed of shedding winter hairs. Then we poured an oily substance onto the spine. The horse earned an apple for standing still and we humans spit and blew and brushed shedding hair from our faces and hands and shirts. Man! These horses are letting go of their winter hair!

Everyone of the horses was walked into the shoeing bed for safety except for Unit, Spirit, Miss April, and Faith. They all behaved so very well. I was the proud Mama standing and watching as Chad haltered and walked Beauty into the shoeing bed. Big Handsome did so well, even though he is so frightened of a shoeing bed. We all laughed when Jeri-Ann did her best to squeeze her ample body between the posts. And PONY! did very well, too. I was so proud.

Then, we fed them all and moved round bales out to the pastures. Many hands made the removal of the bale twine a fast chore. Everyone was released and we moved on to the next big task: the barn floors.

Ugh. Ick. Yuck.

The frost coming out of the ground coupled with the melting snow from the roof last week had created a wet, slippery, smelly mess. But with Bridget and Rebecca helping with manure forks and Chad threading the needle with the skid loader, it was record time and we once again had clean barns. Slippery floors from the wet of the spring thaw but clean floors. Good thing those horses have four feet! Because those of us creatures with only two feet were dancing and slipping like crazy!

Work for Friday was done. Or was it?

Did anyone have just one more thing left in their legs? Could we load the feeders into the trailer so I could drop them off at the welder's shop? Sure enough, five heavy metal hay and grain feeders were loaded into the stock trailer and I was ready to go. Dropping the trailer, I remembered how only a few weeks ago the trailer had fallen off it's jack. Oh, that could have been deadly. But today, I counted the rounds of the shining handle as I completed the required fifty circles.

Once at the welders, we unloaded the feeders and Darrell, the welder, just stood and looked at his creations. I chatted about the weather, his business, the start of the farming season and anything else I could think of that we had in common. Finally, Darrell spoke. What did he say?

"Sandy, your horses are just too big and powerful."

Yup, I smiled. They are big, they are happy, and they itch this time of year. That's why we used half-inch rod when we made these feeders, Darrell!

Friday ended with me feeding a few apples, buting Miss April and spending time in the corral with "The Old Ladies". It had been a glorious day. There were tools to get ready for tomorrow's chores, the trailer to unload from the truck, and then a much needed shower before sleep.

Saturday, we began again. By 10am, Bridget, and Colleen, and Chad, and I were on the fence line of the big pasture. Just standing there. Looking. Groaning. And in total amazement of the size of the task in front of us. We needed to pile up fallen wood, pick pickery vines, and pull burdocks out of the soft ground. There was a fence line in there somewhere, and today we were determined to find it.

It took us four hours. Steadily working. Groaning. Sometimes hollering when the root wouldn't give up! But working at it nonetheless. By 2pm we were tired, scratched, full of burdocks ourselves, but smiling. There WAS a fence line and it was visible and clear now. The joy of success. The horses would be safer and, hopefully, capture fewer burrs next fall.

There is still pickup work to do and the remaining fence line to maintain but the worst stretch of it is completed. The burning of the brush pile will happen on a calm, wet day and then the gates will be reopened for that bigger pasture.

Upon returning back up at the house, I found that Colleen and Pat and Payton had picked sticks in the yard. An enormous pile was created and what a joy that was to see! When that heavy snow fell, the weaker branches fell like rain from the big, old poplar trees. I had taken the largest of the branches over to the burn pile but still had to tackle the yard for the small pickings. Now that was ALL DONE!


We sat at the picnic table and talked, laughed at BoBo who had rolled in something sticky, and it was just about the time when I said, "My body is done for today" that Bridget said, "Weren't we going to clean the stock tanks?"

Bless her heart. I think.

Colleen and I somehow managed to join Bridget in the barn. We bailed both tanks, dragged both tanks outside to the driveway, scrubbed them, and the placed them back in the barn. The cold, clear water of the hose filled both tanks and I knew it was good when Bridget said, "I'd even drink from those tanks."

After all had departed, I spent time picking up lumber and sorting for the burning or collection of demolition materials. You see, just to keep things interesting, the back porch is being removed from the house. The porch was removing itself a bit more each year but this spring it had shown that it was truly time to start moving on that task. When the snows melted in the last couple of weeks, the water began running into the house from the gap that was widening between the porch and the house. Not a good thing and so, it was time to take it down.

The effort is complicated because, of course, I wanted to salvage the wainscoting from the ceiling and the front of the porch. That material is original to the house and the back side has never been painted. Oh, old lumber is so magical, isn't it?

So, last night I once again went out to the pastures and hugged and fed a few apples. I buted Miss April and spent time with The Old Ladies. I told them all that many of us had worked hard for them the past few days. That we loved them and because of that love for them, we did some hard labor and made it much safer for them to run and play. It was time for a shower and rest.

This morning, I spent time in the corral and opened the gate between the corral and the Helen Keller pasture. In walked Faith and her husband, PONY!. Helen's ears went up and the kill pen mare followed the new horses that were in her space around the area. Who were these horses? What were they doing in her space? And really - what were they doing eating her hay?

Just a few minutes of excitement and it was calm again. How easy the blind horses are! How willing to accept another into their world. And how little they care about size or looks or personality or habits. It is just another horse and they move on. There are more important things in life worth thinking about. Like hay. And water. And listening for the woman who feeds us.

So, that is what's new. Hard work. Progress. Maintenance. And calm. All because we believe that working to save these lives is worth it. That our muscles are sore and that feels good to us. That the safety of our residents is so important to us that we wade into the worst of the thickets and clean it so they can be safe. And we do it with smiles and with willing hearts and hands.

Thank you to those who come again and again to work. To give of your time and your backs for the purposes of rescuing the diers. The woman that lives here is grateful. For the support of the volunteers and for those who support us in prayer and donations. Every one - every single one! - of these thrown away horses is worth every ounce of effort. And I pray we will continue to save those no longer wanted for many, many years to come.

Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandy and The Herd In a Clean Barn and An Open Back Fence Line!

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