Yesterday, this shy boy peeked his head into the barn while we were working. We were thrilled. Then, timid and gentle, he edged in further for a drink of water. He was vulnerable being so close to us but had a soft look in his eye. This is HUGE for a horse that has lost so much trust in people.
Several months ago we got a call about the ‘shy boy’ from The Hooved Companion Project. While listening to the voicemail message, I had the feeling that something horrible happened to this horse, unspeakably horrible. I learned more about the ‘shy boy’s’ history on a phone call with the founder of Hooved Companion and I understood my initial feeling. She described his last stop, a kill pen in Washington (a gateway to slaughter), as the worst of the worst. I was uneasy and unsure. I didn’t know if we could help this ‘shy boy’. Mike and I spoke about it a lot. We are a sanctuary: a safe-haven for all to come and be cleansed of fear-based things. Of course, this was ours to do!
They called him Flash. When he was claimed from the kill pen he’d been wearing a halter for a long time, too long. The folks at Hooved Companion were very good to him. They started the process of rebuilding his trust. They were able to get the old halter off and treat the wounds left behind. They fitted him with a new, soft halter and gave him nourishment the skinny boy needed.
On November 5, 2017, Flash arrived at The Farm Way. Three days later we took his halter off. He’s safe here. He has a horse, Venus, that came with him from Hooved Companion that he is attached too. If we had to catch him, for any reason, we could. For the time being, though, we wanted to honor his request not to be touched. We decided to wait for him to let us know when he’s ready. I remember the day when we decided this would be best: It was one of the recent, bitter cold days. Mike and I were out checking on the herd. Venus and Flash were the last two to check over. We wanted to chip off ice from Venus’s feet, so I had a halter and lead. The shy boy took off at a trot and Venus followed. I stopped, and said, “we only want Venus. Mike is going to chip out the ice stuck on her feet.” They both stopped. Venus turned and looked at me. I walked up to her and she let me put on her halter. The boy made a circle around and positioned himself so he could watch. We took care of Venus’s feet and checked over the rest of her body. She felt very warm and comfortable. As we brushed our hands over her body, it was almost like she purred, she is quite the love. Mike and I then went towards the boy and he immediately turned to walk off. We went still. We simultaneously sat down in the snow and started telling him how sorry we were for all he had been through. We did the ancient Hawaiian Ho'oponopono with him. For those unfamiliar with this quest for forgiveness, Ho'oponopono translates in English to I’m Sorry. Please Forgive Me. Thank You. I love you. Even though Mike and I are not the humans that hurt the animals that come to us, we always begin by apologizing for any hardships they endured at the hands of people. During this little heart to heart conversation with him, something incredible flowed through me. While the seeds of forgiveness were being sowed in his soul, I glimpsed another world where we all easily communicate with each other, the animals, nature, and so on. In this space, all is revealed and begins again with love as the foundation. This is the world for all of us. This horse, along with all the animals, will help us live it.
Today, we call him River. When we gracefully flow with the River our true purpose is revealed. In fact, you can’t miss it if you let The River (sing it just like Rush!) guide you. Remember my fear of failing him earlier? I realize now that it was River that helped me remember part of my purpose before we even met. I am here to listen to these souls and help them convey their messages to us.
Yep, this shy boy came with a really crappy past, and his start here has been challenging. Yet, he carries something so giving and wise within his essence, we know he is going to be a huge help to many.
Thank you, River, we are honored to be your sanctuary.
River and Venus Enjoying a Sunset Dinner
The look on Mama’s face the first morning after their arrival said it all: It was a look of…"Is this for REAL?” We answered her with: “Yes, Mama, this is home.” The gratitude from her brought us to tears. She knows her baby is safe. As parents, we understand this is everything.
We actually feel gratitude from all the horses. Is it possible they are excited to be a part of Baby growing up in an environment where she is honored and loved from the beginning?
While we understand it is not plausible to give all our horses at the sanctuary a healthy beginning, it sure does feel good to think, that possibly by our horses witnessing and aiding in the loving life of Baby, this could help heal their deepest wounds and restore trust and balance in their lives. Knowing how this is also going to impact the children and families who visit The Farm Way brings us full circle with our mission: We are a sanctuary where ALL of life's best possibilities are encouraged.
We'd like y'all to meet Charlie, our newest member of the sanctuary!
At the beginning of the summer, Charlie was rescued from a bad situation by a sweet family who knew they wouldn't be able to keep him, but knew he couldn't stay where he was. They spent the summer fattening him up with lots of food and love.
Charlie was malnourished and beaten by the first hands that tried to care for him. People often ask: why would anyone do such a thing? We don't have the answers to that. What we do know is love creates a sweet space for trust to return. We see this time and time again with all our animals. Something else we see, animals don't hold onto the stories based on their past. Take Charlie for example, he is cautious with us, especially if we walk towards him too quickly. As soon as we slow down and create a peaceful space for him, he comes to us, even though we look, act and smell similar to the hands that once hurt him. Charlie is a Champ!
We are very honored to be able to give him a beautiful life here at The Farm Way. And we look forward to seeing all the lives that Charlie helps, little and big, become their own Champs!
Yesterday was a big day for the new boy: he hung with the herd and even got a little muddy.
We are talking about the white potbelly pig. He came to The Farm Way four weeks ago with the name Hank and a couple of nuts (and we aren't talking about the kind from trees). Prior to taking him in, we had our dear friend and healer, Cynthia, check in with him. She said he was excited to come to the farm but was nervous about fitting in. Well, after meeting him and realizing he wasn't neutered we absolutely understood his concerns. At nearly a year and a half, he was all hormones. When we say he tried to mount everything here on the farm, we are not exaggerating!
During this chaotic hormonal time for him he did not respond to much of anything, especially his given name. So we tried out some other names - Frank, Frankie, Francis, Boris, Horndog, Joey, etc. Frankie was close. And then one day about two weeks after he was neutered, Himebaugh was chatting away with him (yes, we talk with our animals all the time) and out came the phrase: Frankie goes to Hollywood. The pig perked up and paid attention for the first time. We have been calling him Hollywood ever since.
He still prefers to keep on a paved path and scratch against vehicles (he did come from Chicago). However, each day he is becoming more and more a part of The Farm Way's herd. We are super grateful that we have the means and the space (thanks to the support from our human herd!) to take in this boy and allow him to live a life that is as close to his natural state of being as possible. Just think about it: by no fault of his own, his alternative was a small second bedroom in a small Chicago apartment.
In our experience, we have found that there is no such thing as a mini pig, mini as in micro. There are breeders saying their pigs will stay 45 lbs or less. This is only possible if the pig is starved. Hollywood is considered small. He weighs in at 86 lbs.
This is Little Miss Dandy. She came to The Farm Way last week. She was saved one year ago by Lindsay and Lori, two of our favorite Animal Angels. By no fault of her own, she got caught up in the not so nice auction circuit. Dandy was in the right place at the right time and got on a truck with two other rescues headed to Lindsay's farm in Illinois -- we don't believe in coincidences. We believe Dandy is destined to be here with us, our hearts tell us so.
Just look at these two --- LOVE at First-sight!!!
This photo was taken on day two at the new homestead of The Farm Way. We feel very humbled and honored to be the guardians of such sacred land.
It has taken us four years, a barn fire, getting outbid on another farm, regrouping our entire family at *Maytown Farm, a rockin’ farmraiser, an incredible angel family, Grandma Nancy (we have many stories to share of her including the fact that she was a trick rider!) and being homeless like little tiny baby Jesus on Christmas Eve to bring us here, to our forever farm in Whiteside County, IL.
Through each trial or crossroad we would ask ourselves which way gives us the greatest feeling of peace within our mind and our body? It is important to follow the path of peace. Dreams readily come true when they are aligned with truth, love and the greater good. Understanding this simple fact, we would lean deeply upon the hope in our hearts and then follow the path of peace. Also, heeding Geronimo’s advice of ‘Dream Big’, we courageously went back to our dream board several times to revise our dreams. In the beginning, our wish was to own the farm where it all began for us. Once our passion of rescuing our first two ponies turned into a mission, we quickly realized that farm was not big enough for our vision of our rescue horses grazing upon acres and acres of grass. Our mantra became “Go Big and Go Home!” We have done exactly this.
We absolutely recognize this land has much to offer in ways of rescue, education, healing, food, fun, and the list goes on. It is our wish to share The Farm Way with all of you who feel drawn to it. Come this spring we will be hosting volunteer days to help us get the farm ready for more rescue animals and our fabulous equine programs for children, vets and families. If you would like to be on our mailing list, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will happily keep you updated!
Looking forward with gratitude! Mike, Nicole, Tex and all the animals of The Farm Way
(*Maytown Farm. In the fall of 2015, we gathered our entire family at Maytown Farm. It had been 36 months since our horses last lived on the same land as us. Maytown was owned by a fellow rescuer and she so graciously opened her home, barn and land to all of us. We are incredibly grateful because we know in our hearts having our horses with us once again provided the perfect message to the Universe to help us move forward. The magic of Maytown Farm deserves a blog of its own. And I will certainly do this very soon so stay tuned. smile.)
I have been a subscriber of the “Let it Go”. It makes sense, right? Just let go of the thing(s) and the thought patterns that no longer serve my highest good. I do let them go and I feel empowered by my new desire to replace fear with Love. Yes, I am ready to do this- Live a Life of Love. Then, along comes another similar scenario and BAM! I find myself smacked in the heart with fear once again. I get so upset with myself because I know better. I understand fear feeds off of drama and I am able to recognize my old patterns, often while they are happening. It's stopping my reactionary thought process that is challenging. It’s as if by trying to let go of my less than favorable emotions, I end up creating a boomerang affect. This makes me feel trapped in a torturous tornado of my own thoughts. It squashes me and my loved ones. Once again, I am back at the beginning trying to let go of hurt.
Now, the thing is, once I become aware of my thoughts I am already empowered to remove them. But how? I believe it can happen naturally by following the increasingly insistent inner voice of my higher self*, the voice that is telling me that I feel so much better when I am not hurting. The higher self is always working to achieve and maintain harmony, wholeness and balance. So instead of trying desperately to ‘Let them Go’, as I have in the past which ultimately has caused them to come back around again, I follow the path of purification, and I align with my higher self, the space within me that chooses love over fear. Here is where the emotions can no longer be sustained in my mind. They can no longer be sustained because I recognize the effect of them and I consciously want the opposite of this hurt. The application of a willful intent to remove them usually works by itself. The key is to realize they’ll go when I am totally accepting and non-judgmental, that I actually don’t need them to leave. Thus the attachment is broken. Forgiveness happens and there’s no longer anything for them to grasp onto. I’m going to say this again- the key is to realize they’ll go when I am totally accepting and non-judgmental, that I actually don’t need them to leave because no matter what is happening I am able to pause and consciously choose to not be effected. There is no longer anything for the fear to hold on to. I’m not anger, I’m not sad, I’m not jealous. This opens up a space for Love, or at the very least neutrality, to reside. For me, this feels FANTASTIC!
(*Higher self- some refer to this as the soul, the heart, the Divine, etc. It is simply that space where I know without doubt I am Love. When I speak of Love, I am not referring to the romantic kind. The Love I speak of lies within. It is always present – it’s unlimited, eternal and infinite. It is about the unfolding of the true self. It is me loving, with no rules or conditions, purely and openly, myself and all life.)
Putting together my thoughts to write this story, I am in awe of how the dots connect and humbled by the way The Universe works. Let me start with the first dot to show you what I mean. In the summer of 2013, Mike came across an add in the local paper regarding a farm needing help with their horses. He cut it out for me to call them. So I did, and I ended up having the sweetest conversation with the owner. There was an instant connection. And even though she did not need help at the time, in fact, she didn't know why the add was still in the paper since she had cancelled it a few weeks prior, I wondered how our paths would intertwine. Well here's how......
On January 28, 2014 we lost something very special to us. The big red barn here on The Farm burned down. Our animals were safe, but nothing else was saved. Something woke Mike at about 1:00 am that morning. His stirring woke me. We saw this magnificent orange glow outside. In the split second it took us to discern what was happening, I thought it was a spaceship and Mike thought it was a million swirling orange snowplow lights. Mike ran to the window. I knew in his gasp it was the barn. He took off for outside and I called 911. The operator asked if everyone was safe. Our ponies! This was the first time I looked out the window towards the barn. It was entirely lit-up! I knew the ponies wouldn't be in the barn. They had free in and out access. But the smoke. Oh the smoke! It engulfed the entire corral. Pictures of them being grounded and us needing to get them up and out rolled through my head. Running to help Mike, he met me at the mudroom door with the sweetest words ever: the ponies are safe! YES!
Mike found the ponies snuggled up by the gate to the upper pasture. The smoke with bits of the burning barn literally cut straight up and over them. Not a stray spark touched them, nor did they even smell of smoke. Geronimo was facing the house with a look that seemed to say: "finally, we've been waiting for you to wake up and open the gate". Was Geronimo the something that willed Mike awake? We believe he was.
Remember that first dot? Yes, the farm looking for help with their horses. Well, we ended up connecting with them in fall of 2013, three months prior to the fire. We once again came across an add in our local paper. This time it was a for sale advertisement for a farm. Looking at the pictures and reading the description, something clicked in our hearts making us wonder if this was the same place. I decided to give the owner, Mary, a call. She said it was indeed their farm and asked if we wanted to come take a look at it. While we weren't necessarily in the market for a different farm, we were beginning to expand on our vision for The Farm Way Sanctuary. Trusting in this sign, we went for a visit.
We enjoyed our time with Mary and looking around the beautiful farm. But our hearts were drawn to the horses. It was apparent that they had been without much of any human contact for quite awhile. Come to find out it had been nearly six years. They were quite shy of us. Mike being the horseman he is had a few treats in his pocket. A couple of them let us get close enough for a scratch here and there. Hannah was one of them. We are so glad she did because she had an eye infection. And so started our time at Willow Tree Farm.
Mary and her family were in the process of re-homing their horses. The word was that they were to go to a man who was known around town for some shady business. Let's just say, he wasn't a horse person. You're probably wondering what would he want with five horses? Exactly our concern. We knew the horses needed our help. Fast-forward a few months, and we ended up needing Mary's help. No Barn in the middle of the coldest winter in decades s'no good for the ponies! Dots connecting. (Pssst, her name isn't really Mary, but this is what I am calling her for the story.)
The transition for our ponies to Willow Tree Farm was easy. Mary and her family were so welcoming. We are super grateful for their generosity. We continued to care for their horses as well as ours. Yes, Mike was taking care of two farms and his pregnant woman. He is Wonderful!
The months passed and summer was upon us. Visions of The Farm Way Sanctuary turned into us forming a non profit corporation and a business plan. Having three rescues of our own and working with the horses of Willow Tree, especially Hannah and her connection with Abigail (click here for their story), we know this is ours to do: Save a Soul. Heal a Heart.
While we absolutely cherish the farm we are on now and would be honored to build another barn, the homestead with its three acres of land simply does not fit with our vision of our rescue horses happily grazing upon acres and acres of grass. Did I mention we were this close to owning Willow Tree Farm? Well we were. Contract was with the lawyers. But money talks and someone with more money than us at the time talked. One moment we were gearing up to move the rest of us to Willow Tree and in the next we are having to relocate our horses. Trusting in Divine Order and Time, the transition was easy once again. Two of the Willow Tree horses remained with the new owners and three were re-homed. Princess is with Hannah at a stable nearby. Hero and Geronimo are hanging with our dear friends Chuck and Wendy and their awesome herd. They are all well cared for and happy. We are super grateful.
Losing the big red barn and then Willow Tree Farm, it seems we are being asked to recognize and honor the courage and strength of our own spirit. As we do, we grow in the understanding necessary to continue traveling the road we have chosen, and to face with wisdom whatever challenges life brings. We believe everything happens for a reason, even if we don't quite see the dots connecting yet! ;)
We have passed the one year marker without our horses being on our farm with us. The French have a saying that sums up or feelings perfectly: tu me manques ... you are missing from me. Our horses are missing from us. And this simply feels amiss since they are such an essential part of our family. We know our perfect farm is out there for us to all be together again. We can just feel it! In whatever way works best for you, we ask you to please: wish us luck, pray for us, and affirm our success in finding the perfect farm for The Farm Way Sanctuary and our family. And if ya happen to see any of our future dots, we'd love to hear from you! Cheers! :)
I love this picture of Princess. To me, this sums up courage perfectly. Not mine. Hers. Yes, I was the one standing in front of her asking her to jump up so I could take this shot. But she is the one who was left outside through the heat and bitter cold for the first two years of her life, neglected and starved. And even though her personality type is one that would rather 'take care of herself' because the first humans she knew surely did not take care of her, she is breaking free of these fears and trusting in us. Indeed, courage is faith in action.
What we believe to be true becomes our truth. Our Geronimo is one of the greatest reminders of this simple law of attraction. Even though the physical signs often showed us his fear of touch, we believed in our hearts the day would come when he would allow us to touch him – all over. And not just for us to touch him, but for him to trust in others too. On Tuesday, July 1, Geronimo’s feet were trimmed by our fabulous farrier and friend, Chuck, for the very first time. Talk about feeling like proud parents – and look at him – lifting up his foot to show off his manicure when Grandma came to visit The Farm a few days later– full of pride indeed.
The Farm Way has taught us that shifting our thoughts from focusing on all the fears of what we do not want to loving thoughts on what we do makes all the difference in attracting a beautiful life. We have our challenging moments and can slide into the ‘slippery down-hill slopes’ just as easily as anyone. This is when we ask for a sign to help us shift our perspective. And then something incredibly magical happens, like Geronimo getting his feet trimmed, and we know what we believe to be true becomes our truth.
Geronimo says Believe BIG! He IS!!!
In the fall of 2011, Mike and I moved to a small farm in Central Illinois where we immediately found ourselves rescuing horses. The rescue was not part of our original plan, but we felt the calling while doing a search for a pair of ponies we did plan on caring for on the farm. Since childhood, my entire extended family and I have been horse owners. Mike and I wanted to continue this tradition. Upon searching the internet for a pair of ponies, we were overwhelmed with the number of horses that needed a rescue and/or a home.