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.