Memorial – Viva

Today is a milestone in the history of Spring Farm CARES. Today we said good-bye to Viva, the horse responsible for starting this all. Viva was born March 20, 1985 after co-founder Bonnie bought her very first horse, Kazinka, only to find out later that she was pregnant. Viva arrived 3 weeks late as Bonnie slept beside Kazinka in the barn in sub-zero weather awaiting his arrival. His birth changed the course of Bonnie’s life and planted the seed that became Spring Farm CARES. Viva and Dawn arrived at the farm exactly at the same time. Destiny brought all of the ingredients together, and 34 years later it is amazing to see where we are and who we’ve become. And one stubborn, obstinate magnificent horse set the course and loved this farm as much as anyone ever could.

Viva lived his whole life here on this farm. He was loved since the day he was born. And he lived a life that very few horses get to live. By all accounts, Viva should have died two years ago when we discovered that he had a huge mass in his abdomen. He later had other medical complications on top of that. But, he made it clear it was not his time to go. He pulled through enormous odds and kept on trucking. Each winter, we thought it would be his last. But he lived for spring and the hope of green grass. In the end, it was his legs that gave out. He squeezed every ounce of usefulness out of the body he was born into.

It was clear that Viva never actually really wanted to go. He loved his life and this farm with all his heart and soul. From the hilltop on which he resided for the past 34 years, he could look over the entire farm. He watched enormous changes and growth over the years. He was proud of what we have become. He felt he was a part of it all and indeed he was.

Viva lived with three mares for over 20 years. Two of them, Story and Harriett, both passed in the last few years. That left Viva and Belle as the last of the hilltop herd. Sadly, Belle now finds herself the sole survivor. Our hearts ache for Belle today as she said good-bye to her last companion, the pesky gelding who the mares constantly had to keep in line, but who was her friend and companion nonetheless.

Just after Viva was euthanized, Belle came close to pay her last respects. As she fully understood that he was gone, she suddenly spun around and looked up the hill to the pasture on the hilltop. Ears perked, nostrils flaring, and watching with wonder at something we couldn’t see. It was then that we realized, the ghost herd had come to pick him up. She knew they were there. She could feel them. Belle herself is not in good health. We will find a new buddy to join her on the hillside. We know it won’t be the same. And we also know that Viva and friends will be watching over her, and the entire farm that he helped create.

He told Dawn before he left, “Look, it’s gonna have to be up to you now to carry this forward. Don’t drop the ball now. My energy will still be here forever with you. But don’t mess this up.”  No pressure there. The dream will continue. The mission will move on. And the stubborn gelding that always from day one did things in his own way on his own time, will always be a part of the very heart of this mission.

Memorial – TLC

TLCToday, most unexpectedly, we lost one of our beloved horse friends. TLC was born here on the farm in 1991, before Spring Farm CARES was officially founded. We consider him one of our founding horses. It is always hard to say good-bye, but to have him with us for all of his 28 years was an honor. He watched SFC be birthed and he knew he was a part of that process.

TLC or “T” as he was most often called was not an easy horse. But he was a horse who taught us much and who was a favorite among many of his caretakers over the years. TLC spent his whole life with another gelding named Meloudee. They were born just a couple of weeks apart and spent their time playing as foals together and were stall neighbors and pasture mates their entire life. Meloudee has had many health problems and TLC always stuck by his side. Any time that TLC had any issues or concerns, Meloudee stood watch over him. They were half-brothers by breeding and best friends without question. The two of them lived in their own little world together. In the pasture they would go off together from the rest of the herd and do their own thing. They stayed out of trouble that way. But they also didn’t really connect with people all that much. They weren’t mean or nasty. But they had no particular interest in buddying up with people either.

In the past couple of years, both of them started allowing themselves to work more with their caretakers. And both of them became more connected and participated more with grooming and handling. As a result, they developed stronger and more meaningful relationships with their human friends. It was great to watch them grow and expand their worlds.

Our hearts go out to Meloudee today who lost his best friend and herd mate. We understand that no one can replace the love he had for TLC. As TLC took suddenly ill this morning, Meloudee stood in his stall with his head hanging over to his friend trying to let him know he was there. TLC had a twisted intestine and nothing more could be done for him. He was not a surgical candidate for many reasons.

TLC was not one for mushiness. He was generally more reserved and matter of fact. But he was also very grateful for his life here at SFC and for the love he received from his caretakers. And mostly, he would like to thank his friend Meloudee for all the years of friendship and companionship. He will run ahead now, but he will wait for his friend to one day join him and once again they will run off through the fields and do their own thing – together.

Rest easy T and thank you for all you taught us and shared with us over the years. You will forever be a part of the miracle of Spring Farm CARES.

Every Life has Meaning

Pat with his mirror

One of the things we are reminded of everyday in our Spring Farm CARES Sanctuary is how precious all of life is and how each and every life has meaning and purpose. To live among all of the animals in our sanctuary as well as to walk among the plants, trees, and wildlife in our nature sanctuary is a daily privilege.  We are reminded to look at each and every life form as an individual but also to step back and see all of it as a larger community. And sometimes the need of the individual comes at odds with the needs of the community as a whole. These are often hard to reconcile and understand. Nature has a way of coming into balance – even when mankind interferes with the natural state of things.

One such example of this is with the many pigeons who have taken up residence here in our horse barn. We have spent years and literally many hundreds of dollars trying to prevent pigeons from inhabiting our barn. The environment is by its very nature inviting to them. Because we have ducks, chickens, and a goose, there is a source of food down for them to feed throughout the day. The wild birds also love to fly in and help themselves. Back before we installed the new ceiling in the barn, they had many rafters to perch on and build their nests. It was a totally safe and protected environment – so what was not to like about that?

Believe us when we say we have tried everything to discourage them. We bought and installed special curtains to put over the large doorways so that air and light could get through but the birds could not get in. These proved to not work as our staff still had to get in and out with vehicles as did our free roaming ducks, chickens, goose, and barn cats. Thus, the curtains were put in such that a gap was left at the bottom. It of course didn’t take the pigeons long to figure out they could walk in under the curtain.

We’ve spent large sums of money blocking access to nesting and perching places. We’ve used decoys and laser lights and all sorts of fancy ideas. But nothing worked. The pigeons we have here now were all born here. There is no way they are going to leave. They know no other way of life. Yet, they are a nuisance to our horses, and a potential danger with their droppings etc. In an effort to live with them symbiotically, we have tried to designate areas that are more user friendly to them. We take down some of their nests and swap their eggs with fake pigeon eggs. Having them in the barn makes a lot of work. And it is easy to curse their existence on the farm. Yet we strive for that balance of respecting all of life and also looking out for the community as a whole.

Pat in his little cat tree nest

By the same token, we have Pat, a pigeon who lives in the small animal facility. Pat came to us from an animal cruelty case. No one knows why Pat was living in the house in a cage, but there he was. While we were there picking up seven mini-donkeys and other shelters and rescues were taking the dogs and pigs, no one was able to offer a place to the pigeon.

It is sort of ironic in a way. But we knew we had to say yes because there was no other option for him. We didn’t know if he was injured or ill but apparently, he had been living in the house for some time. He was not a pigeon who could be released. We named him Pat and he now has a room of his own where he can fly around from perch to perch. He is pampered by his caretakers and he is loved for who he is. Pat reminds us that, although we need to try to find a balance within the needs of the community, every individual is as special as the next. Each life is precious and to that individual has great meaning. It’s all about the balance.

In the meantime, we continue to strive for that balance and peace in the barn – respecting each and every life, and trying to blend the needs of one species with the needs of the other to achieve harmony.

Neglected Pigs Rescued

Statler, one of the two largest of the pigs, takes a nap.

On New Year’s Eve 2018, Spring Farm CARES was called upon to help with a group of pigs in dire need of help. Our staff helped law enforcement officials on the scene where five pigs had already died and one had to be euthanized on the scene. It was a dangerous situation and the 7 remaining pigs had to be gotten out of there that night. These are large farm pigs and we did not have room available for them. But they had to get out and no one else could help. We set into action and made a temporary living area for them in our barn. We are attempting to place these pigs in pig sanctuaries where they will live out their lives. However, it  looks like it will be well into spring before places are available for them.

Senior Animal Caretaker, Elizabeth, tucks in Statler and Waldorf for the night.

For the time being, we have made room here. However, they are utilizing space that will be needed for the animals already in our care by spring. With their enormous appetites, debilitated conditions, and extra time in care and cleaning, as well as the modifications we had to make to house them, it has put an unanticipated strain on our budget.

These pigs are very grateful to be here and let us know that each and every day. They are wonderful, sweet, loving souls. But we do not have room to keep them all here with us. They are already taking up a substantial part of the pig area we have made for Eloise and her piglets. As well as a shed where one of our horses needs to go in the spring. Any donations would be greatly appreciated towards their continued care.

As always, we thank you. It is because of your support that we were able to save these pigs in the knick of time.

 

The five “smaller” of the seven pigs when they arrived to our farm.

 

Gonzo and Fozzy getting some fresh air in their paddock area.

From Frankie

From Frankie: “I have lost my vision but I have never lost sight of who I am. Nor have I forgotten that life is beautiful. I am most grateful for my companions. And my companions come in many shapes and sizes and forms. I learn from all of them. No one should ever feel sorry for me for being blind because if you cannot see the hope and joy I have found in my life even without vision, then you are the one who is blind. Limitations are what you make of them. You can either see them for what they are, learn from them, and grow. Or you can let those limitations shut you down from living. I am very much alive. And I am grateful for every moment I have to live this life for which I have been gifted.”

 

 

From Joy

From Joy: “I have a unique view on life because I nearly died – twice. For me, when I came to that instant to decide to stay or not, the very thing that drew me back to fight to stay alive was what I was grateful for in life. I have learned a lot of things about the world. I have learned that even though humans scare me, I can be brave to step forward and open up a new perspective to have them in my world. I have learned that safety is something I can nurture by learning to trust. When I trust more, my world becomes safer. I used to think I had to find safety and then learn how to trust. But actually, it is the other way around. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn this valuable lesson. I am grateful to be alive.”

 

 

From Lindy

From Lindy: “I am grateful for being allowed to grow old. Some of you may think that is an odd thing to be grateful for. But if you were a goat, you’d understand that not all goats grow old. Many are not given that opportunity. I think humans need to look at the fact that life is a gift. Every single day you are alive, you are blessed. I watch so many curse that they are growing old. When you should be celebrating your right to do so. Every day is an opportunity for all of us to discover why it is we are alive on this very day. That is what I like to do.”

 

 

From Lorinda

From Lorinda: “I believe that we should never have to look too far to find things to be grateful for. If we can’t find anything close by, then for sure we need to move to where the scenery is better. The smallest things in my world can bring me the most gratitude. A loving hand. A gentle touch. The sun. Food. My friends. All of these things make my life enriched with joy and love. I try to share this with people when they come to visit me. Many times, people feel sorry for me because I have crippled legs. But, there is absolutely nothing to feel sorry about for me. I am grateful to be alive.”

 

 

 

From Mabel

From Mabel: “I may be old but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a life to live. I am grateful for more things than I can possibly list. I love my friends and will fiercely guard their hearts with mine. I love my barn. I love my people. I love my world. I may be old, but I have a lot of love still left to give. And I intend to make the most of it. I am grateful for every second I have and every breath I take. I hope you are too!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

From O’Malley

From O’Malley: “Oh, my goodness! I have so much to say and never enough time to say it. This is what I have learned so far in life. It is always better to know that no matter what you think you know, there is always more to learn. Sometimes we teach, but always we learn. It is important to know when you have something to say, and when you just need to be quiet and listen. A true conversation involves both speaking and listening. Now, those humans who know me well, and there are several, are reading this now and thinking… really?? But listen to O’Malley here. Because people sometimes write me off as another pretty face. But if you really listen to my silences, you will know that I know a lot of things and I also know that you know a lot of things. I’m willing to listen to what you know. All I ask is that you listen to what I know. And if you think that was confusing, then you need to read it again.”

 

 

From Kernel

From Kernel: “I am grateful for my friends who have helped me figure out how to get around in this world and operate in this body. I feel lots of things around me that many others don’t seem to notice. I know when someone isn’t feeling well or when someone is hurting inside but can’t show it on the outside. And I want to make people feel safe because people have helped me be safe. I like when people come over and visit with me. I see them for who they are and I try to get them to see what I see. When people put walls around their heart to survive, I can feel those walls. I understand them as I had to do that too. But when you learn to take the walls down and know that it is ok to be yourself, that is a priceless gift. I am still learning and trying to understand myself. But if I can help just one other being find their way out of their darkness, then I have accomplished a lot.”

 

 

From Tessie

From Tessie: “I wish that everyone could feel the gentle kindness of love in their lives. When I curl up with my favorite humans or other cats, it makes me purr with joy. I often try to send that purr out into the world to find other cats who aren’t so lucky. I once was alone and lost myself. I know the feeling. And I also know the feeling of finding a home and a place to be safe and loved. Life is not simple. It sometimes is very complicated. I think the easier we can make it for one another then the better we all will be. It seems so simple really.”

 

 

From TLC

TLCFrom TLC: “I am grateful for spending a lifetime of learning to be who I am without someone trying to make me who I am not. I know I should say more, but truly that says everything. I see other horses come in here with broken spirits. It is actually painful to watch them. It’s like they have forgotten who they are and how to be in this world. It is very unfair for someone to take that away from another. We should all be here to witness and share the beauty and truth of one another. People think I am a grumpy horse. But actually, I’ve just been quiet because I’ve been watching and noticing things. I wanted to learn all I could about many things. I am older now. And I am oh so much wiser than when I came into this form. And I am grateful to be learning all I can.”

 

 

From Lucy

From Lucy: “There is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for what is made possible to me in my life. I cherish the sun each day, even when we can’t see it through the rain. I love the air that I breathe. I love the grass and the trees and the bugs.  I honor all who I meet as being my fellow travelers and friends. What I don’t understand is why people think this is most unusual. If you find this to be strange or unusual, then maybe you need to stop and be grateful for these things too. Why would you not? I think people have forgotten to really look around themselves with wonder. They keep needing more and more shaking to get their attention. You aren’t living if you do not allow yourself to be moved by a sunset or awakened deep inside by the simplistic beauty of a flower. All of life around you is full of awe and wonder. I think you should go find it.”

 

 

From Trevor

TrevorFrom Trevor: “I live life by one basic principle. Pile everything as high as you can on my list of things to experience! I want to do it all. I want to climb to great heights. I want to explore all there is to know. I want to greet every person I can with enough enthusiasm that it makes them want more. I want to hear laughter. I want to roll in the sun. I want to hunt beneath the stars. I want to pretend I’m a mighty lion. I want to dream big. I want to do it all. And I am grateful for every second of my life to reach my goal.”

 

 

From Meloudee

From Meloudee: “You can never be too old to learn new things in life. I have been known to be a bit difficult and stubborn through my early years. Ok, through the middle ones too. And…. Yes, even somewhat in my later years. But, life always gives you the opportunity to try something else. For me, I got an illness that causes me lots of problems -especially with my feet. If I want to feel better, I need to let people help me. That was never high on my list of things I wanted to accept or do. So I was very difficult for people to catch me or do much of anything with me. So, for me to feel better, I had to learn to put my issues aside and try to work with my human friends. You could say that my illness helped me to grow – and that maybe instead of it being something bad in my life – it instead became an opportunity and a chance for me to grow. I am grateful for that.”

 

 

 

From Misty Mew

From Misty Mew: “I am grateful for everything and every day. People keep wondering why I haven’t been adopted yet. But they are a little slow at picking up here that I don’t want to go anywhere. This is my home. Right here. Because I have a job. I am the official greeter cat at the farm. It is important to me that people feel welcomed, not just by the humans here, but also by the animals. We like seeing people visit. We know heavy hearts walk in among us and we try to lighten their load before they leave. Why would I ever want to give that job up? So, my message to you is this, we’d love to have you come visit and I will be looking for you, but please don’t try to take me home. I have found my home right here, doing the work I came to do, touching as many hearts as I can while I am blessed to be in this fabulous cat body I call home.”

 

 

 

From Brandy

From Brandy: “When I stand out in my pasture with my friends, I am reminded of the fact that I almost didn’t survive to get here to this place of peace. As my body has learned to trust again that compassion and kindness can survive the harshest of treatments, I am able to reach out to others to comfort them. All of us face dark times. All of us forget that we are stronger than we realize. But when we forget to reach out to a hand that is offering help, that is when we are most lost. I am grateful to all who have helped me. And I am most grateful to be able to now reach out to others and help them. My heart is filled with loving all I have in this life. Where once I thought there was no hope, I now understand that hope is flowing in abundance. I intend to keep that hope moving forward. And I am grateful for all who want to walk with me.”

 

 

 

From Flora

From Flora: “I originally came to this farm with three other goat friends. We came from a very traumatic beginning. We lost some of our friends in very hard circumstances. It was tough to watch and I try not to remember their loss. But we got here to this farm safely. And the four of us had each other. Even when we didn’t always get along, our common path and the shared pain was an unbreakable bond. In the past couple of years, one by one my friends have died. I am the last one remaining. But this time, their deaths were not traumatic like our other friends before. Because this time we were all surrounded by love. My point is that love made the difference. I think of my friends with great peace now. I never feel alone. Love makes the difference. I am most grateful to have found this truth. And I thank all of my human friends for letting us discover this gift.”

 

 

From Cora

From Cora: “To be alive is a special opportunity. I have lived in the midst of darkness, where life was not seen as a treasure and where animals were not seen as having feelings. Yet, I still perceived that the humans had feelings. I didn’t see them as evil. But I saw them as being lost. To forget that life is sacred no matter if you are a tiny plant or a mighty tree, or a buzzing insect, or the tallest of animals alive is a shame. All of life is sacred. I am grateful to live in a place that honors that. I will be bringing a baby into this world. It is far better to know that she will know those who understand her life as being as sacred as I feel it is, then to feel that her life wouldn’t matter. I am grateful for life.”

 

 

From Charlie

From Charlie: “Sunshine. I am most grateful for sunshine. When I feel the sun warm my body, especially on a cold day, it reminds me how connected I feel to everything around me. My cells soak up the sunshine and then I store that within my body. When my human friends come in at night, I then spread my sunshine to them to help brighten the end of their day. I like making people feel joyful. Then I know I have done a good job and it’s been a good day.”

 

 

 

 

From Eloise

From Eloise: “My list of things to be grateful for is so long that you don’t have time to read it. People need to make more time to be grateful. I’m finding this to be a trend. Hurry. Hurry. Hurry. You don’t take time to enjoy what you are doing. For example, when my food comes, I savor every single bite. I bet you that you don’t even remember what you just ate or what it tasted like. I know what each and every morsel tasted like. I know when it smells like it’s going to rain outside or snow. I know when the flowers are going to open. I can even tell different grasses apart simply because I know what it smells like around me. When you are truly grateful for the little everyday things that sustain you, you will start to feel great joy over the smallest parts of your daily life. That is true gratitude. I know I have found mine!”

 

 

 

From Dusty

From Dusty: “I am grateful for times when it is quiet. Sometimes humans make an awful lot of noise. I wonder how they keep functioning like that actually. I like it when it gets really quiet. I love hearing the breeze in the trees or the rain on a quiet day. I love the stillness of the nighttime and the softness of the winter. Actually, when it is really quiet, I also can hear the gentle breathing of my other cat friends in our room. There is something about that simple sound that brings such peace to me. There is peace in knowing others are breathing with you in the same quiet and that together we are creating a simple kind of peace in the world. I wish that people could find more quiet and stillness in their day. I think they’d be a lot happier.”