From Mack: “Little is often said about the gift of growing old. Usually we bemoan the changes as age has a way of slowing us down in our bodies and minds. But there is a certain magnificence to aging that I am finding. I find comfort in learning to walk a little slower. Before, I had one gear, which was border collie fast. But now, I have to walk slower and, in that change, I am finding that I am shifting my entire viewpoint as well. I am seeing things differently. Some days I am frustrated at how dull my senses seem to be getting. But then, I realize that I feel more acutely than before. There is a depth I see around me that I hadn’t paid attention to before. I feel a depth in people that gives me a certain degree of confidence now that I didn’t allow myself to understand before. I am grateful for this life. I am grateful to know connection. And I am grateful to have the fortune of growing old. Because the other option is that I would no longer be here, and that I most certainly would miss.”
Come join us for a look at a day in the life of our sanctuary cat Elsie.
Frankie – October 9, 2019
Tonight, we were shocked by the loss of one of our younger residents. Frankie was born in 2009 and came to the farm in 2016. He was already blind when he arrived here and came to our sanctuary to live out his days. Although his time with us was much shorter than expected, we know that Frankie felt safe with us and was loved and adored by all of us.
Frankie was a pony with lots of personality and spunk. It is indeed what gave him great strength. This afternoon he suddenly had a colic episode. At first, we thought it was something mild, but as the hours went on, he did not respond to treatment. With our veterinarians we tried for several hours to pull him through, but it was not to be. The only help left to give him was to release him from the body that could no longer heal.
For those of you who may not know, Spring Farm CARES is co-founded by professional animal communicator Dawn Hayman. We think it is fitting to let Frankie’s message to Dawn speak for itself. Because in the end, Frankie let us know that although we feel his life was cut short, he feels differently about that.
“I don’t want you all feeling sad for me now. It was time for me to go. When I lost my eyesight, my world drastically changed and became very challenging. Although you made my world safe for me, it became a world with too many limitations and my desire for running free became stronger than my will to stay. I was grateful for all that you did. But when my darkness began to dim my inner light, I knew I had done enough in this lifetime. Do not be sad for me. I lived to the fullest in this little pony body. But life became more questions than answers and I needed to find the answers somewhere else. Thank you for understanding and letting me go on. To be able to find the joy of running free again was delightful. I’m not afraid of moving forward anymore. Your love gave me strength and hope and I now carry that with me always. I’ve now graduated on to something so much bigger. You gave me the best of all you could and I’ve taken every ounce of that with me. I am grateful to call your hearts my home. And with that, I shall gallop off, no longer a prisoner to darkness, and running fully into the light.”
Happy journey Frankie. Thank you for all you taught us and for touching all of our hearts.
Chance – 1995 – August 13, 2019
Today we unexpectedly said good-bye to Chance. Animals come to our sanctuary from various situations and for various reasons, some come to stay for many years and some for just a short time. Chance had only been here since November 2018. He came here to live out his days as he was not doing well in the herd where he had been living. He arrived here thin and very difficult to put weight on. But over the past several months, Chance thrived here. He became the picture of health. So, today, we didn’t expect that we’d be having to make the decision to help him out of a body that suddenly failed. While it was a shock to us, it actually was in keeping with how Chance wanted things to go. He didn’t want a big fuss made over him and he wouldn’t have been a fan of lots of nursing care.
Chance was his own man. He did things his way and had things the way he wanted them. We kept trying to buddy him up with several of our other horses but he wanted no part in that. He just really didn’t care for other horses. He liked being in a barn full of horses and clearly got comfort from that. But any kind of one on one activities with another horse was clearly not his thing. When we’d turn him out in our arena to walk around, he would cause trouble with each and every horse he could over their stall doors. He took a certain delight in doing that. There was this quiet side to Chance but he liked to stir up a little trouble when he could. Otherwise, he was a very nice horse and was good with people.
Chance suddenly had a colic this morning that at first seemed rather benign. We called our veterinarian anyway because Chance also had a cardiac issue and we wanted to be sure he was ok. But Chance actually was hiding from us the severity of what was happening inside of his body. He had a twisted gut and we couldn’t do anything to help him other than to help him out of his body. Moments before we said good-bye, Chance took one more walk around the arena to cause a little trouble with all of the horses just one last time.
We are blessed to have had the opportunity to know and love this one of a kind horse, even though it was for a short time. Chance needed a safe place to live out his final days and he found just that in our sanctuary. He made sure life was just the way he liked it and we are honored to have given him that final opportunity in his last months.
I’m sure as he passed into Spirit that things lined up for him just the way he wanted them to be. He left his body as quietly and unassumingly as he did when he walked in our door. While sad to see him go, we were honored to have given him a place to call his own.
Happy trails Chance.
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.
Today, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.