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! :)
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.