Saturday, December 20, 2008

What Christmas Means to Me

From the animals and humans of Spring Farm CARES, we wish all of you a very happy holidays. The animals asked to be able to tell about their story of Christmas, and we couldn’t think of a better message than that. Thanks for sharing in a part of the lives of these amazing beings. The message below is narrated by Amber Donkey, but she is speaking for our animals as a whole. ---- Dawn

From Amber Donkey:

We start our story of what Christmas means to us in the barn, where your story of Christmas begins too. Christmas, as you know it, is so different than how we know it. For you it is a holiday, a tradition for some, a spiritual time for others, a commercial event, a time for Santa and talking snowmen and of course the flying reindeer. How do I know all this? You cannot possibly be alive on this planet and not know about Christmas and how it is understood and celebrated by humans. But we animals also understand about Christmas. There is an energy on this planet that signals to us when that special time is near. It is not about Christmas music, colorful lights, or gifts under the tree. It is about the life force energy that comes out of the cold, up through the snow, from beyond the crispness of the winter stars. It is the solstice and the movement of the sun and the moon. It is an energy of oneness and hope, of compassion and giving, of sharing all we have together so that we can join together to help one another. It is about joining one another in the common cause of living on this planet. It is about trusting in renewed faith that another season of growth is coming after this period of short rest. It signals a time for going within to understand our own gifts, our own warmth, our own ideas, and to let them grow within us so that they may sprout anew in the next season of growth. It is about remembering the things we are most grateful for. It is about sharing those gifts we have within us with our friends. And it is about trying to understand with compassion those who we think we can’t understand. It is about planning and creating and visioning. And most of all, it is about renewing our faith in Life itself and understanding the miracle of creation. This is what Christmas is for us. Whether you live in a barn or a high rise in a busy city, there is a quiet humbleness about Christmas that is there for you to find. It is not in stores, it is not even in places of worship, but it is within your very own heart. A compassion and a love for all living beings, and an understanding about the spiritual world within and around us – that is the meaning of Christmas.

On Christmas morning when you awaken, remember about the animals on the whole planet who also are understanding the energy of the day. It is a time when around the entire planet, people stop to share a common moment. Your turning of the new year holds that same energy and is literally shared by all, regardless of spiritual faith or beliefs. It is a time of common energy and focus. It would be a very powerful time to create and move change forward if everyone harnessed that moment. We animals understand this crucial time. We do not celebrate a holiday. We celebrate Life and the love within it. We celebrate the joining of hearts, the notion of giving, the gift of compassion, and the understanding of our oneness. We look to the stars, we look to the earth, and then we look to one another and we say to each other, “I recognize you for all your beauty.” Christmas is a time to acknowledge the gifts we are in each other’s lives.
From that perspective, we wish you all the joys of Christmas and the unity of the new year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Messages from the Animals

As has been the Spring Farm tradition now for many years, we take a moment from our daily work each Thanksgiving morning and make a list of all we have to be grateful for in our lives. Each year, we also give the animals a chance to voice their special thanks as well. Back by popular demand, here are the offerings for this year. All of us at the farm wish you and your families a happy holiday.

Bo: Thoroughbred mare – I am so grateful for all of my friends. Not just the other horses and donkeys but also the ducks, chickens, cats and of course our beloved humans. It gives me great pleasure to be a part of such a loving home where we know respect and camaraderie with each other and with the humans who are in our hearts everyday. Naturally, I am also thankful for having known and to miss those who are no longer with us.

Amber Donkey: I am incredibly grateful to see the sun rise each morning. Every day that I see that, I know that there is a chance for a new beginning. That this day won’t be like any other day. Even if my routine stays the same, my thoughts change every day. Each day I am grateful to have new thoughts. In this way, no two days are ever the same.

Nutmeg: Pygmy goat – I am grateful to have a home that I love. Its not the barn that makes my home but the friends I share it with. Each morning when we hear the first footsteps of the first human to arrive in the barn, I am filled with eagerness for food, but happiness that someone who cares is here to bring it to me. I love to see their faces when they walk in the door.

Bella – female barn cat – I am eternally grateful for warmth, food, and most of all, everyone who loves me. I have such an important job in the barn. The horses depend on me to tell them what is going on outside when they are inside. The people depend on me to be here when I’m supposed to be or when I need to give a tour to visitors. And the greatest thing to be thankful for of all is my sister Izzy. We came together to be together and it has stayed that way by choice.

Bobby – male beagle mix – I only have 3 legs and sometimes people feel sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for me. I am extremely grateful for the 3 legs that I do have. Someone shot me and left me in the woods. I was very scared, in a lot of pain, and very angry at humans. I questioned why I didn’t just die there. But then I ended up here. And even though I’ve bitten a few times, they seem to still like me. So I’ve had to try to learn another way of being. I don’t always understand these humans, but I have a job to do while I’m here. People say I’m cute. I think that is really cool. I shouldn’t be known as a dog with a missing leg but should always be remembered for a dog who found his heart again.

George – black and white Main coon mix cat – (from spirit - George just passed away the eve before our asking for these messages.) Even though I’m no longer with you in body, I am always there in heart and spirit. I have so much to be thankful for that I wanted to be included. I was thankful for a life filled with living. I lived every second of that life. I was thankful for all my friends, the cats, the dogs, Phoebe duck, Merlin the African Grey Parrot, and all my human friends. I had so many of them. I was able to live my life right up until the second I began living in spirit again. For all of the love I received and brought with me to where I am now – I will forever be eternally grateful.

Choco- male rabbit – If ever there was a lucky rabbit in this world, I am it. I hear people say that a rabbit foot is lucky. Well….I am 4 times lucky! I am grateful for extra veggies, for people to feel how soft my fur is, and most of all, I am grateful to have a safe place to stay. People may not know this about me, but I am most grateful to look into people’s eyes and see who they are. It makes me very hoppy to be alive! That is rabbit humor.

Isabelle – female all around gorgeous long-hair grey and white cat – It took people a long time here to figure out that the farm is my whole reason for being. They kept adopting me out and I kept finding ways to come back until FINALLY they got the message. THIS is my home. I am grateful for everything I have every single day. Before I came here, I ended up at a shelter where I was scheduled to die the next day because I peed on someone’s sofa. I peed on the sofa because I thought they didn’t understand me…. And you see, I was right. One pee on the sofa, my first indiscretion, and off I went to die. I don’t understand humans when they get so drastic. But each time they adopted me out from here because they weren’t listening to me either, I just got better at perfecting the pee thing. Luckily, after that first time, it got easy. I’d just pee on something meaningful and then I’d get returned here. Finally, they got it. They thought they were trying to give me something better than what they were giving me when all I ever wanted was to be here, where I was heard and understood and could just work with people on that. I am thankful every day to be able to be HERE.

Hannah – female Pit bull/beagle mix – I am thankful for being given a second chance at my life. I made some big mistakes because I was very confused. But people here taught me what it felt like to be loved and when that happened, my confusion slowed down and I was able to think and learn again. I wanted to live but thought it was useless. But I learned that they would give me a chance. I never want them to not trust me again. I am very thankful to have had an opportunity to be worthy of being trusted. I have learned so much this lifetime.

Felix – donkey – I am always grateful to be alive. I was with my friend Leo at a place where we saw a lot of our friends starve to death and we almost did too. But our friends took us in here and fed us and loved us. We were just little babies at the time and were so close to dying. Now we have our whole lives ahead of us. That horrible experience will be a small part of who we are because we have known such love and comfort in our home now. But while we are grateful to be here and be together, we know that there are many many more animals that are currently living like we were. We hope that they one day soon have something to be thankful for too.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Special Memorial from Bo

Note from Dawn: Today is the 15th anniversary of the fire that took our entire barn which housed our small animals, our offices, and our living quarters. We lost everything we had in just 20 minutes. Many of you have read about the fire in our book IF ONLY THEY COULD TALK: The Miracles of Spring Farm, by Bonnie Jones Reynolds and Dawn Hayman. We lost 24 animals in the blaze started by an electrical spike caused by a car hitting a telephone pole during a freak snow storm. The horses were stabled in another barn separated only by 12 feet at one point from the inferno. The firemen managed to save the stable from burning, and we managed to get our 30 horses out before the smoke killed them. As Bonnie and I regrouped after the last horse was safely out, we came back out front to see the last wall of our beloved home collapse into a heap. We turned to each other and said, “somehow this is all going to be all right.” In those immediately spoken words were the first sparks rekindling the passion, the understanding, that we must not give up but instead move forward. The animals who died would have wanted that. And on tough days, when it felt like we couldn’t go on, I remember thinking that we do it for them. All that was left the next day were burning embers and a mountain of ash. Because of the still smoldering remains, the horses were not able to return to their barn for 2 days. Although we didn’t lose any horses in the fire, and the horse barn itself was saved, their lives were also forever touched by that night. For years, the horses have been the ones to say to us, “let’s remember those we lost that night.”

On October 29, 2008 we had almost an identical snow storm hit here. When I went to the horse barn to say good-night and be sure they were all safe and warm, Bo, (24 year old Thoroughbred mare) said to me, “we remember a night like this many years ago and I bet you do too.” She was right. The timing was eerie in a way and I did take a closer look around the barn than usual. It was hard not to be affected by that. And then Bo said, “we, the horses, would like to do a memorial for the animals we lost that night. Let us do something for them this year.”

From Bo:

Sometimes opportunities in life come to us in various disguises. Following Amber’s discussion of Halloween then and tricks and treats and costumes, I can only use that as the perfect example of what I mean. The fire that is part of our history here on this farm is a living force of the farm. It is not something that happened to us all. None of us were victims. It was a force shaping a path. It was not a darkness but it was a light bearing event. The fire happened on Halloween when many people were dressing up in costumes and looking like something else. The fire did the same thing. At first look it seemed to be a great tragedy. But underneath that disguise was a great opportunity. So often we miss the meaning of gifts being handed to us. As we were all ushered into the darkness and snow that night, we were all scared. As the fire started raging, some of us tried running back into the barn where we felt safe. Pretty soon the darkness of night was replaced by the glow of the fire and we understood the enormous loss affecting the farm. We were scared. We knew our human friends were helping us out of the barn but then we lost track of them. Some of us worried they had died too when we didn’t see them. They were worried the same thing about us. So at days first light, we were so relieved to see them come out to us. At least we all still had one another. Some of us offered Bonnie and Dawn our stalls so they had a place to sleep. As it turned out, they didn’t need that. But we would have given them that space. Even with all that they were going through, they still came out to hug each one of us and to feed us and check on us. We all knew how lucky we were to still be alive. And we all were incredibly aware of the 24 who didn’t wake up with us that morning. We also knew something else. We knew we were starting a new day. And we knew we needed to be sure that Bonnie and Dawn saw that too. They did.

We horses asked to hold the memory of those 24 who died that night as part of the living history of the farm. What this means to us is that their energy still lives on in all we do. We are the keepers of that understanding of a new day. We will always hold that space on this farm. Its not just remembering them. Its keeping who they are as a part of the daily functioning. They’d have liked that. Its not that we even think of them every day. They just are here. The fire ruins are sacred. There is always a duck who stands guard at that place. There is always life that stands among and springs from the ashes.

For as scared as we were that night to be out in the dark, cold, stormy night, after the fire burned itself out, the farm was filled with angels soaring over the pastures, playing with the horses, and blessing the farm we call home. We knew then that what happened was all for good. We knew that the ones who left us that night were a part of the new beginning. And we vowed then and there to the angels to always hold that memory and to remind anyone who wanted to listen about this truth. Always look for the disguise in tragedy, and always understand the opportunities you are given.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tricky Humans

From Amber Donkey:

Now this is a particularly funny time of year. There is this very odd human tradition of dressing up in costumes and looking totally ridiculous. Some of the humans around here have gotten carried away over the years and tried to drag us animals into this festivity. We don’t really get it. They get all dressed up and then go door to door begging for treats. Then they think if they dress us up and drag us along that they will get even more treats. I’ve spoken to some animals who participated with this silly game before. And clearly, the animals have gotten no treats whatsoever out of the deal.

Now here is the clincher. I’ve seen it myself, right here in my own barn. They come dressed up mostly like animals. Yep. I’ve seen them dress up like cats, rabbits, even a moose. But when they dress us up, they try to make us look like humans. Famous humans sometimes. At Christmas, I get dressed up like Santa. They call me the Santa Donkey. It was fun the first year as the kids really loved it. But soon, no one noticed anymore. So what is it with you humans? Why do you insist on making animals in your own image? And why on earth do you try to look like animals? I think you owe it to yourselves as a species to really look into this.

The other thing some of you try to do is to make the spirit world scary. You dress up your kids as ghosts and creepy looking things to try to be scary. These little kids then walk around being scared to death of each other. But worse than that, they become afraid of “ghosts” or spirits. I can tell you one thing. I’ve never met a spirit that looked like a limp white sheet with holes in it. Something is seriously amiss.

If you want to be more like us, then you don’t need to dress up, you just need to act more like us. Its not what you wear, but how you wear it. Its not what you say, but how you mean it. Its not what you do, but who you are. Its not about your superior intelligence, its about opening your heart. Take the focus off your brains and try to live from your hearts more, and you would end up being more like us. And no matter how you dress us up to look like people, you will never understand us more by doing so. You will never appreciate us more. You will never be like us at all. Until the day comes when you understand that we are all in this together. That your superior ideas don’t make your ideas superior. That the one thing we care most about is your hearts, your feelings, and your compassion. Costumes don’t get you there. It would be far better to knock on a door and give a treat then to keep on knocking and expecting one. No matter what you wear, its who you are that we care about.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Hope

From Dawn:

This morning I stood in our yard and watched the sun rise behind the windmills. As I looked up the newly built access road to the windmills, which I was told by the spirits of the farm to name New Hope Lane, I realized that I was looking directly into the future of the farm.

A horse in a paddock adjacent to our yard softly nickered and my heart instantly felt filled and comforted. For those of you who know horses, you will understand this. After spending the last 22 years intimately with horses, their sounds, both vocal and also from their breathing, are like an old friend. Every nuance of each breath and nicker is understood in my heart. When you’ve been around horses for a while, you learn to listen and read the subtle communications of their daily lives. Horses have a very specific nicker that they reserve for very special occasions. It is soft, gentle, loving, and it comes from the depth of their souls. I will share with you some of the occasions I have heard them use this sound and you’ll understand the meaning. In every horse birth I’ve witnessed, it is the first sound the mare makes when she turns to see her newborn foal for the first time. She reaches around, touches noses, and then nickers to them. It says to them, “you are safe, welcome to this world, what joy!” And the foal knows that sound instantly and responds. I always have thought what a beautiful sound that is to be the first sound you hear in this world. In the same vein, I have also heard horses utter this nicker as the last sound they make before they leave their bodies. It has not been at every passing that I’ve experienced this, but it has been at several. And when I hear them make that sound, I know they are seeing into spirit and are hearing, “you are safe, welcome to this world, what joy!” Many times when I’ve heard a sound in the middle of the night and worry something is wrong in the barn, I tiptoe down, open the door, and inevitably one of the horses will do that nicker. And they let me know “all is safe, all is well, rest easy.”

So this morning, standing with the rising sun, looking up New Hope Lane, and to the windmills that were just erected yesterday, I particularly took notice to the mare who gently nickered in the quiet of the morning. Her soft nicker echoed around the farm as the only sound that could be heard. It was like a tuning fork to my soul, reminding me where to focus my energy. I turned to her and she saw me as well. Nothing had to be said out loud. Our hearts were communicating in the moment. She said to me, “Do you feel the energy of the farm this morning?” I did feel the energy. It was of great hope and the promise of a new day. And like a movie playing from my memory, a flood of messages came in from so many animals who have blessed this farm. There was Tara, Arabian mare, who took me for a walk one day way out in one of our hay fields. She was so determined to go near the top of the hill. “This place right here is where I want to be buried when I die,” she said to me. I told her we didn’t need to talk about this just now. She turned to me, nuzzled my hand with her nose, and said, “oh, but yes we do dear.” The next morning she died. With great hesitation we buried her on that far off hill and it didn’t seem right putting her so far away from the barn. When I asked her why here, she replied, “this is where I will forever be connected to you and where I will see the future of the farm. Right from here.” Twenty years later now, that burial spot is directly in my backyard, right where I was standing this morning. And as I stood there, Tara came to me and said, “you see, from here I can see the entire farm. I can be closest to you. And from here you can look to the future of the farm. Never give up on hope.”

Then I remembered a morning a few years ago where I stood in this same spot and saw our goose Annie Perry and several ducks standing in the horse paddock in a row facing the rising sun. It seemed so ritualistic and important and I asked Annie what that was about. He said, “This is morning promenade. You always must give thanks to the rising sun. It is the hope and promise of the new day. You give thanks in advance for what you will receive. In the evening we have evening promenade and we face to the west and we give thanks for all we have received and look once again to the light and hope of the next day. Always we do this.”

So as I stood this morning, now years after Annie Perry has passed from our farm, I looked over to the horse paddock again and there was the morning promenade of ducks, all facing east, watching the sun rise over the windmills as I did, and welcoming the new hope of a new day.

My heart was filled with this message: Today is a new day of the future of this farm. This is the new day of hope. Not just for the farm but for the planet. Each morning as you watch the sunrise over these windmills and you gaze up New Hope Lane, let your joy of life flow free. Let the wind move your soul as it moves the blades of those windmills. Let your hope and vision spread from your heart to the world. The animals will be doing this with you. And if more and more of you do this, then hope will spread across this earth just as the wind does. These windmills are moved by the wind and power this farm. But hope is what they really spread. It is the power that comes from your hearts and empowers the world. Let your hope be the wind that stirs the trees. Let it be the vision that is enlightened by the rising sun. And let your hope be that energy that this farm sends out to the world.

Just after receiving that message, in the still quiet of the morning, the mare nickered again. And my heart understood, not just for me, not just for the farm, but for the planet she was speaking to: “we are safe, welcome world, what joy! All is safe, all is well, rest easy.”

For more information on the Spring Farm CARES alternative energy project, go to our Alternative Energy Page.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


From Dawn:

We have had a lot of losses lately at the farm and it is easy to get side tracked with sadness while life is continuing on with great joy all around us. I think this is why we were blessed with the arrival of these pygmy goats and the birth of little Luna, the most precocious kid we’ve ever known. If ever there was a being who came to this farm with a mission it is this gal. Every minute of her life is spent in joy. If things are too serious, well, then she finds a way to lighten them up. If the adult goats won’t play or they get butting each other around, she just jumps on top of one of them and stands there like a surfer riding a wave. Any inanimate object is an immediate piece of playground equipment. No matter what it is, it cannot possibly be too tall to be climbed or to slippery to be jumped upon. We have provided the goats with some fun things to play on in their yard and Luna was the first one up. All of 7.5 lbs now, she can jump 3 ft vertical with no trouble at all. It is just like her legs are little springs and that she is attached on this earth plane by a bungee cord. She is fearless. She is trusting. But by far the most endearing and amazing characteristic she displays is her desire and insistence on cuddling. She loves to be picked up and she snuggles right in and cuddles for as long as we will stand with her. And if you don’t pick her up when she wants you to, she stands there and paws at your leg until you absolutely must oblige. No day is too busy, no excuse for not taking time to snuggle is accepted. She is precious.

She also is starting to contemplate life. I kind of knew this was coming as I could feel the energy of this being moments after she was born and I knew she was sent here to stay with us. It feels like she knows us. She has been here before. And who she was before is not important right now. She wants us to focus on who she is now and what she has to share with us. She has come to share. She is focused. She is a straight talker. She is confident. You will be hearing more from her I’m sure. But for now, here are some of her thoughts about life and playing.

From Luna:

Here is what I say:

Find a warm place to stand in the sun and soak it up.

Find a friend to play with and play with all your might.

When you meet someone bigger than you, approach them with interest and kindness and they will approach you the same.

When you see something higher than you think you can reach, just jump for it and know you’ll land where you are supposed to. If you slide off, just jump a little higher next time. Don’t give up. If you can’t reach at first, find a friend to lend you a leg up.

And never ever forget the importance of touching with hearts. A good snuggle not only feels good to you, but to the one who snuggles with you as well. Never forget to take time out of your busy schedules to stop and just snuggle with another. Your heart will be filled with joy.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Passing of Holly - "I Will Miss It Here."

From Dawn:

On September 27, 2008 at 2pm, we had to help our dear horse friend Holly on her way. Cancer had ravaged her body slowly over the past several months and we knew her time with us was drawing to a close. Holly was a 28 year old Morgan/Quarter Horse mare. She had been with us for over 20 years.

Holly came to Spring Farm when her beloved human companion, Carol, passed away unexpectedly. Some of you may remember reading about Carol's visits to Holly in spirit form shortly after Holly arrived at the farm, in our book IF ONLY THEY COULD TALK: The Miracles of Spring Farm. There were several occassions where I would see Carol standing at the fence line reaching over and grooming Holly. These were such clear experiences and not dreams or visions. About 3 weeks ago I happened to look out one of the windows from my house/office looking over the farm and saw a woman sitting on our fence holding a halter and lead rope. I saw her out of the corner of my eye and thought - "oh, there's Margot sitting on the fence." Except I couldn't figure out why Margot would be sitting on the fence and when I looked again, no one was there. This happened more than once. The third time I saw this, a chill went down my spine. I realized it wasn't Margot I was seeing at all, but it was Holly's old companion Carol. Carol and Margot have very similar phyiscal features. I knew then that Holly's time was drawing near. I connected with Carol and asked her if she had anything to say. She said, "You've taken great care of my girl all these years and now soon I will take her back from you again. Once again it can be my turn to care for her. She will be fine with me. Its not time yet, but when it is, I'll be here."

We knew Saturday morning that the day had come to help Holly leave this body. She told us that as long as she could eat, enjoy time in her pasture, and still be seen as the beautiful being that she was that she wanted to stay every second that she could. Although she still could eat some, she could no longer eat enough to support her body and we prepared all of her animal family that the time had come. We knew Carol would come and get her, of that we had no doubts. I couldn't be with Holly as I have been laid up for several weeks and am recuperating from minor surgery on Friday. It bothered me not to be able to be with Holly physically to say good-bye, even though I knew our hearts could still connect "long distance." As I was told the vet had arrived, I connected with my friend and very clearly got one strong communication from her. "I will miss it here!" she said. I immediately began to cry. "Don't be sad for me. Just know I will miss it here. There is no greater message I could leave you with at this moment."

And then Holly gave me the following message as she peacefully passed from our embrace back to Carol's loving care.

From Holly:
I will miss it here.
I always wanted to be able to say on the day I died “I will miss it here.”
For to reach a statement as simple, as pure, and as profound as that, is proof that a good life has been lived.
Indeed, I will miss it here.
Today it rains. Some may say what a dreary day to die. However, this morning I got to stand out in the rain and know that I will miss it here.
All last week it was sunny. It was warm but not too hot; it was cool but not cold. And I felt blessed to be alive.
I have never feared and do not fear now where it is I’m going when I leave this place. But to be able to love this life so much that I can say from my heart that I will miss it, is far more important to me than the spirit home I know for sure I will find when I leave.
I have no fear, no remorse, and no sadness. I simply leave with a longing to return. And the knowledge that I can and will be back.

In this body, I was loved not for what I did but simply for who I was. Unrideable from a very young age, it would have been easy to find hardship, strife, misuse, and turmoil. But instead I found a heart who saw me as a beauty and loved and treasured me. When that kind human moved on into spirit, once again I was bound for possible trouble. Yet, this farm was then found where once again I could live my life to just be me. I could live my passion – to be a horse and love the land. That is what you let me do and helped me to achieve. For 20 years I was a part of your lives. Even for a time when I lived off this farm, loved and cared for by another as my friend, you were always here watching over me. It is not with sadness that I leave. For I know that my friend Carol is waiting for me on the other side. The place I go is back into her loving embrace and back to a home I will welcome in an instant. But I leave here wanting you, who loved me and saw my beauty of truly being who I am, to know this one last message to all of you as I now go.
I will miss it here.
Keep a space for me in your hearts where you will find me to be with you again.

For more information on Holly: Visit our the Memorial Page on our website.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

On Petting Zoos and Game Farms - New Arrivals to the farm

Amber Donkey: Oh did we have some excitement around here this last week! The barn was a swarm of activity when we unexpectedly became a refuge to 8 pygmy goats and 6 hair sheep. Now I had never seen either of these species before, although we do have goats and sheep here, these guys were different. And boy were they scared. It took all of us horses at least 2 days to reassure them that they were safe with us. We felt so sorry for them as their lives were turned upside down. Their family had gotten separated and split up and they were sad, scared, and in shock. But we told them all about the farm here and what we do. Just as things were quieting down a bit, someone came and took 3 of the goats. We know not all of them will stay here but we also told them that even if they leave, they would be going to safe places. The sheep can't stay here as they are known to jump fences and we are on a highway here that would be very deadly if they jumped a fence. But our folks will be sure they all stay together and go to a very nice place.

Then on Monday a miracle occurred. All of us were so excited. One of the little goats gave birth to the teeny tiniest little goat baby I had ever seen. It was about the size of our barn cats here. Unbelievable. For now, the goats have been moved to the smaller barn where they can be safe and have a pasture all to their own. Plus, they have two other donkeys looking after them so I know for sure all will be fine. The reason these guys were suddenly homeless is a very sad story indeed. One I had never heard of before. And this old donkey has heard about a lot of things. We'll let Dawn take it from here.

From Dawn:

Last week we became sanctuary to 8 pygmy goats and 6 hair sheep all of whom were headed from auction to the meat truck. Each one of these animals was sent to auction by a game farm/petting zoo. So many of us have fond memories as children of being taken to a petting zoo or game farm and being able to see and touch all the cute animals, many of them babies. Maybe some of you still take your children and grandchildren to such places. For sure, not all of them are bad. However, most people have no clue that a great majority of these tourist attractions exist not for the welfare of the animals but for our entertainment and for the profit of those who run them. By far, the biggest attractions are the baby animals. To have baby animals in abundance, many of these places over breed or allow indiscriminate breeding so that they are assured a nice supply of cute cuddly young ones when the crowds arrive to greet them each summer. Have you ever wondered though what happens to these babies? You can go back the next year and lo and behold there are all those cute babies again. But few stop to wonder where the babies from last year went. What most people do not know is that many of these petting zoos and game farms liquidate their “assets” each fall after Labor Day and when the crowds are gone. Now these same babies that you all loved and touched, and fed in some cases, are no longer an asset but a liability for the winter. Off they go to auction where they are largely sold for meat or for canned hunts.

For those of you who are not familiar with canned hunts, these are places where animals, mostly exotic types that have been hand raised at game farms and the like, are set loose in a completely fenced in area and then shot by people who pay to come and shoot them. Like a petting zoo only with guns. But instead of getting their heads petted, they get to be mounted on someone’s wall as a trophy. Canned hunts are legal in many states. And they love to buy the liquidated assets of game farms and zoos from auctions because they are generally extremely tame.

The sheep and goats that have found sanctuary with us will be assured that they will not end up in the meat truck or in the hands of the canned hunt people. A group of animal lovers and rescues bought up those hand raised animals that were certain to go for meat from the auction and they are being placed in homes by various sanctuaries and rescue groups. Spring Farm only took in a few. Just to be clear, there were over 40 pygmy goats and over 40 hair sheep that were just among some of the animals that were liquidated that day by one game farm at this one auction. There was even a baby camel, a couple of tortoises, 35 pot bellied pigs and many more, all from the same game farm. Many of the goats and sheep are pregnant. So many more lives were being auctioned off at the end of this tourist season than we will know. We will be placing the herd of sheep all together soon at another facility where they will be safe. Some of the goats have been placed and some will stay here with us. Some of the goats were ill so we are giving them time to settle in, to be sure they are healthy, and to see who is pregnant and who may not be. But just this week, one of the goats delivered an amazingly cute little kid. At less than one week old, she is out bouncing around with the other 5 remaining adults and learning about life. Born on a full moon, we named her Luna. She is feisty, determined, and very smart. And she hopefully will never have to feel the sting of betrayal of being born to get to know, love, and trust people, only to then be discarded with the trash at the end of a tourist season. She will know she is not a commodity but that she is a treasured being for her entire life and not just for when she is a cute youngster.

Our intention is to keep some of the goats to use in our humane education programs and to just let them be goats. I just wish though that the same tourists that spent their summer feeding and petting these adorable beings could have seen the look of terror and confusion in the pens at the auction, waiting for their uncertain fate, and being separated from their friends and families. And if you think they don’t care about those connections, if you think that they don’t understand where they are being sent off to and understand what the kill pens are, then I wish you could have seen it for yourselves. The look of fear and terror, the screams to each other as they were divided up and separated, and then their gradually learning trust that they have found safety again. Little Luna only knows that the sun feels good, people are friendly, and that Life is waiting for her to explore. She has the complete innocence and trust of all newborn beings. It is up to us now never to betray that.

When animals are used for our entertainment, it is up to us to be sure how their lives are being spent and what happens to them when the doors close for the season and the show is over. Are they just a seasonal commodity, bred to make a few bucks while people gather to see their beauty, only then to be discarded as a worthless liability? Or, are they truly loved, honored, and cared for, even when times are tough and the doors are closed? It is up to all of us as “consumers” to find out the answers to these questions before we promote them with our dollars. There are probably not many of you who would get a baby animal for your child or grandchild just so they can see it be young and vibrant and then send it off to a meat auction when fall comes, yet that is what we all unknowingly promote and condone when we financially support these operations. Ask questions. Life is too precious to waste. Ask Luna.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Amber Donkey: Last week was a very sad week here in the barn because we said good-bye to two of our good friends. I personally knew them both. First was Angel, a wonderful sheep and mother to Michael and Gabriel. And then there was Orion, a very handsome horse. Orion lived directly across from me and I spent many hours everyday with him. I knew him very well and we had many conversations over the years that I’ve been here. Orion was here long before I got here. But he was the first one to greet me when I walked in the door of our barn. The first thing he said to me was, “Wow! Look at your ears!” Evidently he had never seen a donkey before. And when I let out a loud bray right next to his stall, he almost jumped backward. Never before had he heard a sound like that! Orion was a guy with a lot of gumption and character. I adored him actually. Our friends are important to us. Friendships are as much a part of our lives as they are of yours. I’ve asked a few animals here if they wanted to talk about friends and a couple of them have asked to be included. The first one was Orion’s best friend TJ. TJ is blind and Orion was his eyes for him when they went outside together. They trusted one another and that is the greatest bond any two hearts can share.

TJ: (Quarter Horse gelding – mid20’s) I may not have been able to see my friend Orion, but I knew him at the level of his heart. I understood him probably more than anyone else. He was a beautiful soul and a great friend to me. I always felt safe when I was with him, even though I can’t see. He was solid, always letting me know he was there not just for me but WITH me. I needed him and he always showed up to answer that need. He understood that I just needed to know he was there with me. That’s all. But that is the greatest gift one being can give to another. Just being there, steady and solid and trustworthy. It is also true that he is no longer standing beside me. But before he left, he also understood that I have another friend now to help me. And he understood that I would always carry him within my heart. He didn’t need guidance where he was going. But we all know that someone was there to greet him on his journey. And I know that someday when its my turn to make that same travel, he will be there just as I always knew him to be when I couldn’t see but could only feel him there. For me, I almost have it easier than those who miss him because they can no longer see him. I never could see him, could only feel him, and know that I still can. Sometimes vision is an impediment to the ways of the heart.

Hero: (male cat with Spina Bifida) I was so thrilled to have had my most special friend Helen of Troy. Helen was a wonderful kitten who had spinal problems just like me. However, our condition kept neither of us from romping and playing and snuggling and cuddling together. She was not here for long with us but my heart will be forever filled with her laughter. Helen understood about having fun. She helped me to get to play more. She helped other people to see that although our bodies are different than “normal”, we still can enjoy life and be thankful for each other. I knew she wasn’t going to be here for long. It didn’t matter. It wasn’t the length of time we had together but the heart bond that we formed that truly mattered. She taught me to love life anew. What a gift her friendship was to me. I see people everyday here just plain ignore each other or be less than kind to one another sometimes. I feel their judgment that they carry. It is far more crippling to their souls than my condition is to my body. My body may not be as agile, but my heart is very fit. Helen helped me to better understand that. And now I can share the gifts she gave to me with everyone I meet, and she will still be touching them with her spirit, even though her body is no longer here. Friendship is the greatest need we have from our souls. And when freely given and shared, it is the most healing power of all. Be a friend, a true friend. And your heart will know the greatest healing of all.

To read more about the lives of Orion, Angel, and Helen of Troy, visit the Memorials Page on the Spring Farm CARES website. To read more about Amber, TJ, and the other barn animals of the farm, visit them on our Horses Page.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Welcome, welcome, welcome! All of us animals here at Spring Farm CARES are so excited about this blog. I am Amber Donkey and I will be the main editor for this endeavor. This will be our forum to talk about different observations we may have about life on the farm or Life in general. We also will look forward to hearing your comments. No, I don’t have a computer in my stall nor do we have internet access in the barn. So let’s make sure you understand that this is real life and not make believe. Dawn will be doing all the typing and translating and filling us in on what you have to say.

All of life converses all of the time. Horses talk to ducks who talk to frogs etc. We communicate freely with all there is around us. This includes the plants and trees and all of the elements of the Earth. Humans have the ability to do this as well but many of you have forgotten. At Spring Farm CARES, we have Dawn Hayman who teaches animal communication and has done so for years. She has talked to more animals than I have! So we may even call on Dawn for some anecdotes from time to time. Let me just be sure that you understand then that the entries in this blog are not our human friends making this up for fun. This is work that our human friends are doing to listen and convey our messages to you. This is our reality. You have the choice to believe it or not. Let your heart be open to what you hear and let the wisdoms that are meant for you to understand be yours to know. Some of what we say may be very educational. Some may seem to be a stretch for you. Some will leave you laughing. Some will leave you crying. And some will leave you thinking and looking for more truths. But our sole purpose is to start a conversation. These are messages and observations to be shared. You are not separate from us. We are all one and we are all part of the same Earth. We are friends and we look forward to sharing many things together as we go. We look forward to hearing from you too!