Tuesday, January 31, 2012

February is upon us! Leap for joy!

From Jim: This month holds a lot of meaning for us. Donna and I will celebrate our 48th anniversary. I'll never understand how I got so lucky to have her as my bride. Our son will turn 40. Valentine's day will see little candy hearts with silly things written on them, classrooms will exchange cut out cards (maybe punch out?) and florists will arrange roses in the dozens. The sanctuary finds February to be a month of hard decisions. Many of seniors will have spent their last winter with us and will soon get their wings. It seems they hang on tenaciously through winter and quickly fade in the spring. It's their way and we've come to accept it. Hay will get scarcer and more costly. The calls for assistance with suffering animals will increase. We will continue to ask for your help and donations and many of you will be there. A special Valentine's wish for you! The edge that winter brings seems to bring folks together. Sitting in front of the wood stove, cup of tea in hand, and several dogs at you feet and kitties in your lap-That's February. The ground is a little crunchy in the morning-some frost in the straw. The hoses need awhile to thaw and every now and again the water tanks need the ice broken. Winter colic from not drinking enough is a constant issue. The horse committee for "new ways to ruin horse blankets" is hard at work. The mix of mud and manure is impossible to clean up. There isn't a recognizable grey or white horse on the place. The least warm sunny spot will attract the nappers-sometimes resting their nose on the ground, feet folded, sometimes flat out, neck stretched out-on their side. The guards will doze and startle themselves awake for a quick look around. Flannel shirts and felt hats-rubber muck boots and thick socks-that's the uniform of the day. February is a special time for us. Leap years let us catch up on our trip around sun. Without the added day every fourth year, February could slip into Fly Time and that would just be wrong! Hope you enjoy every single day of this month!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Time for Healing...

From Jim: We have many resident animals at Home At Last that have been hurt and abused by some very cruel and ignorant people. They have scars on their bodies and in their minds that are the result of their terrible treatment. They have needed to have a lot of time to heal. There are those that speak of desensitizing or retraining and that's well and good, but we're about healing here. For us that means giving the critters an opportunity to just be what they are. They get to live in a herd with appropriately tempered herdmates. They have adequate room to move about freely. They have no worries about food or water. They are unharressed. Other than a gentle touch or pet, they are not asked to work at "human" tasks. There is no time limit, no expectation of progress to be tracked, no schedule to be met. Some of our animals will never fully recover. Their injuries were simply too severe, their wounds too deep, their fear too great. We know that and accept it. They will be the very best they know how to be every single day. Please, stop and think about that sentence. Can any of our kind say with complete honesty that we're the best we know how to be every day? I know I can't. The notion that getting well might take too long doesn't make much sense to me. Many "injuries" respond quite well to a long lay-up. We've heard folks complain that this is too long of a wait. They want to ride-NOW. A horse will live 20 or 30 years. If they need a few months now and then to recover from a mishap that doesn't seem like so much to ask. Having equines and getting the most out of that experience is a lesson in patience, not such a bad thing in this day and age of techno-warp speed living. Maybe we need to find time for ourselves to "get well", to enjoy life for itself, to be just ourselves. Time is a precious thing. It slips away no matter how we use it. Once gone, it will never return. I often ask you to take the time to love on your critters. It's your time and can never be anyone else's. How you use it is really up to you either by choice or default. I hope the time you spent reading this will make you think about how you want to use the time to come.

Pinning your hopes on a tractor...

From Jim: Our tractor is in almost constant use during choretime. With about a ton of hay to feed each day, hand feeding would be pretty near impossible. Yesterday, the bucket? Well, it seems that a linkage pin had been abducted by aliens and was somewhere on the mothership. This left the bucket with one hydraulic ram where two is called for. Not good! Soooo...today will begin with a trip to-wait for it-Tractor Supply in Oroville for a new pin. Since the old girl will down for that repair, I might as well do a full service and there goes the day. Donna will run over to Lyle's and pick up a little hay. Driving the flatbed is not on her bucket list, so it will probably be Wednesday before a full load of hay will get moved. Laz has a vet appointment tommorow and will most likely get a new cast. The pins in his foot will be removed in a couple of weeks-No, they won't work on the tractor. Then, a couple of weeks in a splint and he'll be a fourlegged again. He's sure been a good boy during his recovery. I've often said these critters spend every day being the best they know how to be and I believe that. It's a good starting place when it's time for training them up. They need to know what you want and when you want it. They try to get it right as they understand it. If they don't understand, that's on us. The exception to this, of courses, is cats. They have their own kitty agenda and we're not on it. We are, however, useful to them when they wish for our devoted attention. Otherwise, not so much. Patches is now about equal in mass to several of our suns. He is to blankets what a dark hole is to the universe. Once settled on the bed, there are no covers left. Well enough of this rambling, time to get to work. Take the time to love on your critters. You'll all enjoy it!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lighting A Candle...

From Jim: The old saying, "Better to light a candle, than curse the dark" sure fits the rescue/sanctuary business. We get calls and E mails several times a week asking for help with some poor horse that has fallen on really tough times. We do what we can. The reality is that with 80 critters, we're full. We're just barely keeping up with the costs of feed and care and Donna and I are not youngsters anymore. The six or so hours of daily work to maintain the herd is about all we can do and still keep the household going. This is not a rant, and please don't take it as one. It's a request that more of you great folks step up and rescue a horse, donkey, or mule that has run out of options. We, our society, needs more homes for these critters. It's a reality that cannot be "opinioned" away. The issue of slaughter as a solution is repugnant and wrong. The failure to control irresponsible breeding and to enforce animal protection is inexcusable. The notion that it's just someone else's problem is a cop out of the highest order. If you have the room for a needy critter, then you really need to step up. It is never the animal's fault that our kind is so incapable of getting it right. For those of us who "get it", there's a moral mandate to do the right thing. You'll have opportunities to make choices that require sacrifice and selflessness. You'll find a million reasons why you just can't "be there" for a suffering animal. Well, Yes you can! It will be difficult and expensive and people will tell you you're crazy. There will be heartaches and headaches by the number. It will be one of the best things you've ever done for yourself! You will touch the face of that sweet creature and look into those soft eyes and your soul will rejoice! You will be a better person. I'm not selling snake oil here, folks. I'm telling you the truth as I've come to know it. Loving and caring for a living thing that truly needs you is an act of kindness that you just shouldn't miss out on, Really!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fair Winds Brian!

From Jim: Our dear friend and adopted family member, Brian, is off to Washington to start a new position with his company. Brian lived on the sanctuary with us for three years. We called him our "mule whisperer" as he had a real talent for gentling the longears that came here. The success he had with these critters was pretty amazing. His beloved horses are here, waiting until he's had a chance, with Linda, to find a place and settle in. We'll sure miss him. Linda will stay on here until Spring, when she retires. In the meantime, Brian will stay on his boat. What an adventure for both of them. The weather has finally started to be "normal?" with alternating days of rain and sunshine. This has been a warm winter and the critters have only had about a week of MUD. We got started with the clean up yesterday and can get started planting some of the fruit trees later this week. It really is time to landscape around the house. The roads, as always, need attention. Wheel rolled the lower road yesterday on my several trips to the junk pile. Ranch life requires that all possible usable stuff (junk) be saved. If you throw anything away, you will absolutely need it the next week or so. Repairs and additions to the barns and stables are also in the offing. I need more me. Irene, our faithful volunteer, continues to work with our most frightened and uncatchable critters. We are impressed with her patient and gentle ways. Jess was by a few weeks back. He and Mallory are also greatly valued volunteers. Laura and I will begin in earnest to find a van for Gracie to use in her travels to see those in need. The thrift store will celebrate a full year of operation next month. Helen and Ron have been unbelievable! So this year is already marked by change and sameness, by the events and passages of life that flow around and through us. Living on a sanctuary is a lot of things, but boring isn't one of them. I hope everyone of you has a great weekend. Fair winds and following seas Brian. You will always be a part of our family and Home At Last!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hay Econ 101...

From Jim: We feed 5500 bales of hay a year. Changes in the cost per ton are very significant to the finances of the sanctuary. Cheap cattle hay won't do for horses. What's the point of rescuing animals only to malnourish them? And therein lies the issue. Without regular donations from folks, this sanctuary cannot exist, and that means the animals die. There's no way around it. Critters that have nothing wrong with them, other than no home, will be euthanized. And that's if they're lucky. They may just find themselves in the slaughter pipeline or simply starve to death. Our society doesn't seem to want to acknowledge this reality. Animal control agencies are underfunded. Local governments are strapped for dollars. Most counties have no facilities for large animals and none that can provide lifetime care. That leaves it the private organizations, like Home At Last to look after these animals. There's no grants and stipends and public dollars. All of our funding is from private donations-From people like you. Occasionally, someone will retire a beloved pet here and sponsor them. That's really great. We set our retirement sponsorships as low as we can. We hope that makes it a good option for owners. Most of our herd came from auctions, slaughter pens, feed lots, even off of slaughter trucks, they were seized by animal control, or rescued by others. I cannot tell you how much we need your support. The future for hay prices doesn't look good. If hay goes up by $3.00 a bale, that's a $16,000 a year increase for us. We hope you will extend a loving hand to the animals that have finally found a home, at last. Our mailing address is Home At Last, PO Box 4129, Yankee Hill, Ca 95965. PayPal is right here on the blog site. Or give us a call at 530514-1439. Thanks!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cash and cash...

From Jim: We have an OTT (off the track Thoroughbred) here named Cash. He's in his mid 20's and coming to the end of his life cycle. He's been here for several years. When he came, he refused to leave his stall, didn't like to be petted, and was lame front and rear. He was not used to being with other horses and wasn't friendly to them. A lot has changed for this old guy. His best friend is Breeze Bay, our beautiful Kellogg Arabian. He enjoys being in the backyard bunch herd and loves attention. His lameness has almost disappeared, although his left rear pastern joint has lost range of motion. Not bad for an old race horse! We'll lose Cash this Winter or Spring. He's having trouble keeping weight on and has slowed down-prefers naps and dozing. We know what this means and we've come to accept that no one lives forever. We don't like it, but we accept it. We're so glad he had the wonderful retirement he's enjoyed. It's what we're about. So-BIG SIGH-on to cash. We need donations. The winter months bring higher feed bills, more vet bills, and generally more maintenance and repair costs. I've mentioned before that we are on a very tight budget-just enough and not much more. This allows more of our critters a chance at life. It also means I'm sitting here writing this so that I can pay the hay bills. We can use sponsors for many of our animals. Any amount helps us keep them going. If you're interested, give us a call at 530-514-1439 or send us a note at Home At Last, PO Box 4129, Yankee Hill, Ca 95965. PayPal is right here on the blog page. We're a 501c3 and your gift will be deductible. We can sure use your help about now! Thanks!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Afternoon Edition...

From Jim: This morning we fed in the rain. This afternoon is glorious sunshine! It was chilly this morning-almost snowing. It's warm now! Bright blue skies with wispy clouds-lovely! The sanctuary had one of our volunteers work with the horses today. Irene is spending time with those critters that really don't trust our kind. They have not been treated well by two-leggeds and are rightfully cautious. Irene has the patience and gentle manner that can help rebuild a good relationship with our abused animals. It takes a lot of time and improvement is measured in very small increments. Even a brief nose touch is a big deal. You can't help but wonder how it would go if the roles were reversed? If we had suffered what these animals went through and now we were asked to trust again? I guess that's one of the reasons I like them so much. They are remarkable in their capacity to heal and move on. The ground here will dry out in a day or two and need some tractor work. The drainages will require cleaning up and the stalls will need mucking. We want everything in order for the next generation of flies-Man, do I hate flies! We're going to friends for dinner tonight, so we'll try to get the chores done early. It's better for everyone when we have a few minutes to clean up before going out. Eau-De-Horsey is not universally appreciated. We can hope that someday the rest of the world catches on, but for now, it's better to conform to standards not of our making. When I picked up this last load of hay, I got a chance to look over next year's crop. Something really comforting in seeing the young beardless wheat that will provide the herd with food. The planning and preparation for the care of 80 equines, 2 calves, 4 goats, 3 dogs, 8 cats, and a flock of chickens and guineas can be demanding and the consequences for messing it up are not nice. Thank goodness for the help we get from Lyle and from Brian, at Oroville Tractor Supply. (They like Eau-De-Horsey) It's time to post this and get out to the afternoon chores! I need to leave some time to love on some of the critters!

The Second Day...

From Jim: The computer that Ron loaned us is a real blessing. Slowly, we're beginning to understand how to use it. Ron and Helen continue to generously help and support the sanctuary. What good friends they are! We were by the thrift store to pick up the computer and had a few minutes to discuss their upcoming 1st anniversary event. It's really hard to believe that the store has been open for a whole year already. (Amazing Gracie will have a role to play!) The herd has enjoyed the drying out we've had for the last few days. Many rolls and naps. It's always neat to see who gets guard duty. The social organization of the herd is such a large part of how equines function. They sure need each other and every member of the herd knows it. Our kind seems to struggle with our need for each other-too bad. Cal, one our new residents, has turned out to be one of the neatest critters we've known. He's very bright, and has a great personality. Not only is he not hard to catch, he comes when called, and when you don't call him, he shows up anyway. He's made friends with almost everyone in the herd and plays with the other geldings a lot. Fun! Banjo, a Jersey/Angus cross, has been out with the backyard bunch the last few days. He's still the baby boy, in his mind, that came here as a day old. Only now, he weighs over 1000 pounds. His hugs can be a little much. Julien has chosen to move in with the Buckskins for awhile. I guess hanging out with the Arabians was too sophisticated for him. Anyway, the calves, and I guess they'll always be calves, have really turned into pets, albeit really BIG pets. The goats, which came here weighing 2 1/2 pounds are now well over 100 pounds and are also just as sweet as when they were tiny. They've learned that our kind doesn't play "goaty games" and that "No" means no. They're incredibly smart. Their pen has some large rocks where they play King of the Mountain, and practice looking like mountain goats. Sure glad we left their horns on. They're very pretty animals. When you hold their beautiful faces in your hands and they look right into your eyes, it really hard to believe they were just thrown away as day old babies. Sometimes, some people don't show me much. One day maybe all folks will find out the power of kindness-That's my hope anyway. Please take time today to love on your critters! It will be good for both of you!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Back to the Future...

From Jim: I find myself back in the "blog-O-sphere" on a borrowed laptop-VERY STRANGE! A lot has happened during the dark time. Our dear Dobbin passed away. He was a mid 40's donkey with a wonderful personality and very kind disposition. He died quietly and was ready for his wings. We will miss him. We finally got some greatly needed rain. It was near Biblical for awhile. The hay crop is now much happier and the wells are recharging as they should. The roads, barns, stalls, and yards-MUDDY! The horses, donkeys and mules-MUDDY! The tractors, trucks, and equipment... As always, the herd blames us for this situation and expects us to remedy it at our earliest opportunity. As always, they'll be disappointed by our sorry efforts. Oh Well! Laz continues to heal from his mule injury. He's sure a good dog! For all of you that sent donations, Thank You! As we are able, we will send along personal expressions of appreciation. Today was one of reflection for us. Brian is very near to his move to Washington state. He's a part of our family now, and we feel like it's a repeat of the "empty nest" thing. Linda will stay on for awhile, until she reaches retirement, then she'll be off to join Brian in the Spring. We have the usual end of the month breath-holding about the sanctuary's finances. We remind ourselves that this is as it should be. If we're not this close to the edge, it would mean that one of our critters would have died for lack of a home. While our situation may be uncomfortable now and then, theirs would have been terminal. That's a pretty stark reality . So, as I gain some command(that's a joke)over this new technological marvel, I'll get back to the blog on a regular basis. I hope you've been taking many moments to love on your critters. We'll need to add pictures as soon we can figure out how to do it on this contraption.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Calling All Angels...

From Jim: Back to asking for donations, and, even more, for sponsors. If you've already donated or "adopted" an animal, THANK YOU! If you haven't, please do. We follow many other rescues and sanctuaries from all across our nation, and several from other countries. We read their pleas for donations and truly appreciate their needs and the great work they do. We never see them as competitors. When they succeed, they help save deserving critters, just like we do. That's good! Where we differ from most is that our chosen mission is life-time sanctuary for our animals. They will never leave the care and embrace of Home At Last. They are home, at last. That means a life time of feed, no matter how specialized the diet, vet care-including life long immunizations and dental work, farrier care, some of which is pretty technical corrective work, and so on. It's expensive. Our support folks are generous and offer up discounts and donate freely of their time and talent, but the unavoidable costs are still significant. Three thousand, eight hundred friends and only a handful take the time to PayPal or mail a gift. I guess that's on me for not making clear how important this place is to the animals. Without us, they would be dead. Not maybe, not worse case, just absolutely certainly DEAD. That's just not right. It would be terribly wrong. These are wonderful creatures. They really do deserve a chance to live out their lives in peace and well being. Not one penny, ever!, goes to a human being as salary. Every donation-100% is used for the care and welfare of the animals. We do this with a happy and humble heart. We truly need your support-now and in the future. The herd's not going anywhere and they will always have a need for you. We cannot do this by ourselves. As strange as it sounds, I think that's a good thing. Your participation will be a chance to feel some of the joy and blessings we feel everyday. That's something we'd like to share with you. Our mailing address is Home At Last, PO Box 4129, Yankee Hill, Ca 95965. We're 501c3 tax deductible. I guarantee you that we will really appreciate whatever you can donate and that you'll feel good about it as you follow the lives of our residents. That's a promise!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ruined Horses, Donkeys and Mules...

From Jim: This blog is the result of pondering what I had written about Jessie in the blog just below. We have a number of residents here that have been described as "ruined". I think that notion is more one of perspective than truth. By far the worst case of outright abuse we've dealt with is Quincy. He was beaten with chains, boards, pipes, ropes, whips and wire. He was pulled off his feet, tripped, and dragged. His hock was destroyed. He would shake all over when you touched him. He was wired up so tight he was really dangerous-always near panic. We've had this guy for years now. He's a lot calmer and his many scars have healed up some. He'll let you pet him and he's happy with his herdmates. So, was he ruined? I'm pretty sure he doesn't think so. He's rightfully cautious and suspicious. He travels pretty well, given his broken hock. He knows that we will not hurt him and he enjoys his life. Then there's Chance. Our beautiful Thoroughbred 4 year old. We got him when he was two. In his fourth start on the track, he fractured his knee-happens when you race babies. He was on his way to slaughter when he was rescued. He's about as sweet a colt as ever was. He can do regular trail work and should live a nice long life. Is he ruined because he can't race? Smoke was being trained up as a reining horse. Over-training resulted in a bowed tendon in the front leg-left a lump. No more competition for Smoke. Worse, the trainer used really harsh tactics with this boy and scared him to death. It took about 2 years of gentle handling to get him to trust us. He's a beautiful, kind, intelligent horse. Is he ruined? There's Juan, our grand old mule. His flexor tendon tore off the coffin bone. Without a corrective shoe, his foot won't/can't turn over and he would walk on the face of his hoof. Juan is the biggest love you could ever know. He is Home At Last's greeter and a diplomat for all of our longears. He would rather be petted than eat. Is he ruined? Outright abuse, ignorant training, a racing industry that destroys babies, accidents, starvation and founder from over-feeding and so on all inflict terrible injuries. Our kind can quickly decide the animal is ruined, because of limits for human use. Kind of a one way street for the critter. The folks that can't see beyond their immediate need for a "useful" animal really don't appreciate what these creatures are. Most of our residents came here because they were deemed unadoptable. Not usable. Ruined. Come spend some time with them. Get to know them. They're a lot of things, but ruined isn't one of them. They are the very best they know how to be-every day, all of the time. They've overcome physical injuries and mental harm that's hard to believe. They are inspirational and humbling. When I have my hands on them and look into their eyes, I honestly wonder how anyone could think of them as ruined.

Jessie, Time is Important...

From Jim: This is Jessie's story, as best as we know it. With rescues, it's always wise to take everything with a grain of salt, but we're pretty sure this is close to how it went. Quite a while back, maybe 7 or 8 years ago, Tawnee rescued a black BLM jenny donk. She had been beaten, after BLM rounded her up and placed her with some folks that were going to use her for packing. When she didn't know how to do that, they beat her. They then dumped her, as she had become somewhat unfriendly-Go figure. Anyway, Tawnee named her Raven, and placed her with a really nice fellow who rescued a few critters, 2 or 3, I think. Another of his saves was Lower Case Jack, a mini gelding, and another story. Well, anyway this fellow called and asked us if we could take Raven, now renamed Jessie, and L.C. Jack, as he was having some health issues. We agreed. We always try to be there for other rescues and sanctuaries. Sadly, this kind man eventually died-Danged cancer. Little Jack was a lovebug from the first day. Minis generally really like our kind. Jessie wanted nothing to do with us. We had been advised to leave her haltered to make it easier to catch her. We don't do that-ever! Not only is it a safety issue, we want our residents to learn to trust us. The only real way to know that is to work with them at liberty. Then you know they've made a choice, not been forced. It only took an hour or two for Jessie to find Jenny, another of our rescued donkeys, and another story. These two became great friends, still are inseparable. They were in our largest turn out and in with some other critters. Jessie would stand back 10 or so feet when we would pet Jenny. Her ears telling us how uncomfortable she was. We offered a turned down hand, but nothing doing. This went on for four years. We never forced her, penned her, chased her, or demanded anything from her. She just lived here, with her friends and got fat and shiny. One day, Jessie decided that we were OK. It was pretty amazing. She just stepped up with Jenny and said, "Pet me too". That's how it's been ever since. We've had Jessie for awhile now. She's 12 or 13, young for a donkey. She'll spend the rest of her days with Home At Last-probably outlive us. And, she'll know she's loved and that not all of our kind are harsh and cruel. What took minutes to do, took years to heal. We think that giving critters all the time they need to get well is just the right thing to do. Desensitizing a young animal, that hasn't had terrible abuse is way different than getting past the fear that comes from mistreatment. Time and patience are called for, and that can mean years. For us, that's OK and sure worth it. Jessie is just a love now. She's at peace and confident. What's that worth? If you ever visit the sanctuary, Jessie will expect a pet or two!

Friday, January 13, 2012


From Jim: I want to thank the following folks for their generous donations. Carla and Jon G., Tim D., Eileeen and James G., Becky R. H., Valerie D., Mary R., Brian and Linda, and Maurya F. These are the January angels so far! Donna and I are always humbled by the help we are given. Thank You! The critters are bracing up for a change in the weather and it's about time. We need rain and a bunch of it. The down side to this is that some our watch list animals have been given some extra days to bask in the warm sun and now that's coming to an end. We've talked to Dr. Darling about this and it will soon be time to say Good Bye to some of our beloved seniors. Dobbin-our 40 something donkey, Tiger-mid 20's Kiger, and Sugar-late 20's Qhorse are ready for their wings. There are several more that we are watching closely. When the cold wet weather arrives in earnest, their quality of life can go away pretty quickly. We're so glad they could have the peaceful retirement they've had. Of all the things we deal with here, these decisions are the hardest. I'm sure they always will be and that's how it should be. These lives are so very precious and wonderful. We often talk about the stories they could tell, the things they've seen and done. It's been a joy to get to know every animal that lives here. When I think of those critters out there in the world that will be sent to slaughter or starved to death or abused and mistreated, Well, that's hard too. You have helped us save these guys. You've made a real difference to some great creatures. I hope you feel really good about that. You sure should! Oh, and go love on your pets! You'll both enjoy it!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cup Full of Pencils...

From Jim: We've had some of our long time supporters send along some very much needed donations and, boy, are we grateful. It's pretty difficult to ask folks that have their own financial concerns to help our sanctuary. If it was another situation, I don't know if I would do it. When we started Home At Last, we had no idea of how terrible the need was. Our idea was to have some old critters to share some time with in our retirement. We've been at this for a while now, and things just keep heading in the wrong direction for the equine population. There's more of them, largely due to irresponsible breeding practices. There's fewer homes. People don't have the money, or knowledge, or desire. The impact of the latest floods and droughts has hurt the food supply terribly. Grain prices have gone through the roof. It's interesting to me that we never receive donations of $5 or $10 or $20 dollars. Those would add up and help a lot. We have around 3800 friends on FB. Some are other rescues or organizations and are not potential donors. If even 10% of the rest of the folks that know about Home At Last would get in the game, things would be a lot better. I don't have the verbal skills to describe the needs that these poor critters have and the horrors they've faced. I wish I did. I would like to feel that they could an affective voice, an advocate that was successful. Donna and I spend almost all of our time taking care of the herd and that's really OK. We know how to do it and enjoy the work. The "sitting on the curb with a cup full of pencils", not so much. Our dear friends, Helen and Ron, created a thrift and gift store dedicated to supporting Home At Last. We've won national contests and placed high in others. What I haven't been able to do is inspire a few hundred folks to make a regular monthly donation of a few dollars. It's tax deductible, 100% of every dollar goes to the critters, and without this sanctuary these animals would have died. I can't find stronger words. I can't say it with more conviction. Please think about joining this effort!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Request for Donations 2.1

From Jim: Home At Last depends on donations to continue as a sanctuary. Without your support, there is simply no way for the 80 equines and assorted other rescues here to survive. Sometimes the scale of this place really sets me back a little. We feed almost 1 ton of hay a day. This is high quality horse grade hay. We feed about 100 pounds of sweet feed/Sr. equine a day. We pump 2500 to 3000 gallons of water a day for the herd. It takes diesel and gasoline to run the equipment. We haul our hay from North Chico, where it's stored in barns-around 80 miles round trip-6 to 10 tons at a time. The wear and tear, maintenance and upkeep is constant and expensive. Have you priced 10 ply tires lately? How about tractor lugs? We get no government funding. 100% of the donations go directly to the animals. There are no salaries, not one dime goes to people here. We have a vet bill, which can sky rocket, of about $1000 per month. If you add this up, it's over $100,000 a year. Our donations fall short of this amount by a bunch. The folks that donate are such angels to these critters. We Need More Angels! No Kidding! Please send along a few dollars so that we're able to keep going with this effort. PayPal is right on the blog site. Our address is Home At Last, PO Box 4129, Yankee Hill, Ca 95965. The phone here is 530-514-1439. We're a 501c3, so your gift will be tax deductible. You can sponsor a horse, or mule, or donk, or one of each. You can help with vet costs or equipment costs. You can make a huge difference. I'm going to share some of our critter's stories in the future. I hope you will see why they are here as permanent residents. We are not a rescue-no rehabbing and rehoming. Our animals are really at their last stop. There just wasn't any other options for them. They sure don't deserve to die. Help us make sure that doesn't happen! Thanks.

Colic, Laminitis, Abcesses, Summer Sores, Rain Rot...

From Jim: Equines are generally pretty healthy animals. They are born, develop, mature, reproduce, age and die with very few diseases. In a natural state, they must constantly be able to keep up with the herd. Movement for grazing and water is a necessity. When we domesticated them, health issues began to become problematic. Don't get me wrong, equines suffered from diseases before we were a part of the deal, but usually, these illnesses were self limiting or fatal. Colic is the bain of horse ownership. You get to the barn or turn out and your critter is off their feed and water. They're staring at their gut, laying down and rolling-up and down, up and down. They're miserably uncomfortable. Best case is a gas bubble-can be the result of feed, weather, or ?. You take a listen to their gut and find gurgling noises and a high squeal, like rubbing your fingers on a balloon. Whew!, some walking, some bute or injectable banimine, some time, maybe a vet call and pretty soon you and the critter are back in business. OR, you take a listen and there are very few or no gut noises. That's bad! Could be an impaction, feed, dehydration, who knows? Time to call the vet-no waitin around! Could be really, really bad. A torsioned (twisted) gut, a stone, or a tumor. As the colic develops and doesn't resolve with tubed water and oil, the vet will probably discuss surgery with you. Know this, 85% of horses that have coliced will eventually die from colic.(gas colic seems to be an exception) Almost all horses that have colic surgery will colic again. You might gain some years with your animal, but it's pretty unlikely you will have seen the last of the problem. It's a hard choice and one that you as the horse's caretaker must make. Because of the high recurrence rate and our own beliefs about quality of life, we don't have colic surgeries performed. We euthanize horses that are coliced and don't respond to treatment. Laminitis is another big health concern for horse owners. You walk out and find your horse stretched out, feet way out in front, rears tucked in as far as possible. Movement is painful-on eggshells. The hoof shells are hot and a quick check with the hoof testers confirms that the feet are incredibly sore. Time to get busy! Left untreated, laminitis can and usually does result in founder-a permanent and disabling consequence. Laminitis can be caused by a ton of different things, feeding mistakes are the most common. So, what to do. Immediately get some anti-inflammatory meds going-bute or banimine. Cool the feet down. Get the critter on some soft bedding material. Call the vet. Treat this as an emergency. It is! Many horses fully recover from a bout of laminitis and go on to a full life with no recurrence. Some become chronically laminitic and will have to be euthanized. Our old friend Secretariat came to this end. Cushings disease often has laminitis as a symptom. (This disorder will get it's own blog.) Abscesses in the sole of the foot are pretty common. Horse pulls up lame, stands on the tip of the toe, and reacts strongly to a hoof tester. Most good farriers or the vet can open up the abscess, drain it, disinfect it, maybe bandage it for a bit, and it will resolve. It there's foreign matter in the wound, or a really deep infection, then it might take more. Soaking in epsom salts and warm water helps as does a course of antibiotics. The offending foreign stuff has to be removed-this would be vet time, as sedation is usually required. Summer sores are generally insect related-that would be flies. I cannot tell how much I hate flies. Protecting open wounds with fly goop and bandages is what's called for, but horses don't always make the easiest patients. Sometimes you just have to misery along until the weather gets cold enough to kill off the danged flies. Rain Rot, a dermal bacterial infection is another misery. Suprinating lumpy sores, with hair loss-Nice! We like to use Excaliber, a sheath cleaner, and Tea Tree Oil. You want to scrub this in and we don't rinse it off. Most horse's develop an immunity and see no recurrences, but it's nasty when they're dealing with it. We've only had two cases where the vet had to get involved. These horses were in terrible shape when they came here and their skin issues were adding to the problems they already faced. Occasionally, there will be outbreaks of other equine diseases, West Nile, Strangles, Equine Herpes, and the like. A regular regimen of immunizations and precautions to avoid exposure help a lot. Hope your friend never has to deal with any of this. If they do, you'll be their best hope to make good choices to get them well! Calling the vet is never a waste of money. If you have the slightest doubt about what's going on and what to do about it, call the Pro in.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fund Raising...

From Jim: I usually enjoy putting a blog together. It's a time to share and chat and, sometimes, just blabber. Not so, today. The reality of being responsible for the lives and well being of the animals here can get pretty heavy. We have the support and help of a lot of good folks, but frankly, without more, a bunch more, this sanctuary will not be sustainable and most our resident critters will die. That's a stark truth, not a vague fear. These animals came here because they were out of other options. Donna and I really don't mind the work, or the strain of stretching the budget "just a little more". We know what's at stake, if we don't. Well folks, there's only so much stretching that can be done and then it's not possible to do more. We're at that point now. It's OK-lives were saved, but for how long? You, every single one of you, can make a real difference. You'll benefit from a tax break, a sense of satisfaction and the knowledge that your care saved a critter. We'll appreciate it more that we can say. I'll write about this issue often. I hope you'll hear me.

Thoughts from Donna

It's 4AM and sleep is evading me again. That's OK. The older I get the happier I am to have awake time. The days have been warm and oh so dry. We are having to manage our water carefully, as the wells are getting low. Do dishes only once a day (Oh, Shucks). Only one load of laundry daily, and a careful watering of plants. Have been trying to get the yard ready for next year's garden. Have lots of canine help when I'm digging, moving manure and putting in plants.

Lazlo is a great dog. His four broken bones, courtesy of Tawny and Tango mules, are healing nicely. He goes to the vet today for Xrays and a new cast. The first few days he was unsure that this was really his forever home. Then he got very possessive of Jim and me, not letting the other dogs have alone time with us. Now he knows he's home, he's loved and that he can share us with the others. He still looks at the cats and after the cast comes off he may need a few more lessons of Leave It.

He's a very sweet dog and we are glad he came to live with us.

Jackson the white mule and Reba are settling in nicely, though they don't have much to do with one another. In fact Jackson is part of Gumba's herd now and Gumba doesn't share. Gumba, Babe, Lacey and Jackson are in a smaller turn out where Breeze Bay and Cash had been. Breeze and Cash needed some back yard time. When I let them out Breeze ran-not just galloped- from barn to Levi at the top of the yard- four times as hard as she could run. Every time Cash tried to come out the gate Breeze would race by and Cash would get confused about which way to go. Finally, they were together and even old cash had a good romp.

Gumba is kept busy trying to keep Frankie on one side and Bo on the other away from his herd. He rounds them up and tries to keep them in the middle, but Babe wanders off one way, Lacey the other and Jackson another. They get plenty of exercise. Jake the Brabant Belgian from Animali Farms near Santa Maria (check them out and tell them we said Hi) is the first and so far only horse who talked to me in out loud words. We had gone to Animali to get two injured colts rescued from the PMU farms in Canada. We took babies we knew were at risk and who couldn't be sold because of their injuries. After the three (another story later) were in the trailer a voice said loud and clear "Don't leave without me." I turned to Jim and said "Didi you hear that?" "No" he said. Loud and clear voice said, "Take me with you." I started crying and told Jennifer someone out there is calling to me.

We went to several turnouts and finally I said, " I think it's in that one." In I went with quite a few untrained and young geldings. They bounced around me and the Jake came over and put his head on my shoulder. "Take me home, " he said. Jim got out the checkbook and Jake was ours.

Turns out one of the injured colts was his half brother. They became Jake and Elwood the red Blues Brothers. More of their stories later.Jake is still my baby, albeit a big baby- over 1500 pounds at last measurement. He still sees himself as the little boy who needed to come home. Little Sweetie Pie the Hackney Pony bosses him around. He's camera shy. You know how loud and scary camera clicks can be. He's a love and a good boy. He proved to me that animals can communicate whether or not you can see them and they can talk in many languages.

I have been doing the sanctuary taxes and we are truly blessed by the love and support you have given us through the years. Your generosity humbles us.

Next year's budget predictions ( unless hay sky rockets) are that it will cost about $89,900 to keep us going. We hope we can count on your continued support.

Thank you.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Home, at last...

From Jim: We had a couple of new volunteers yesterday. Very nice ladies that have had some horse experience and want to help out with the critters. Donna usually gives any new folks the grand tour, takes a couple of hours. This gives everyone a chance to really see what they're getting into and for us to see what the interested parties would like to do and are capable of doing. Even folks that have had horses have generally not been out with herds of 20 or more of em. We want everyone to have a good and safe visit and to leave with a positive view of the sanctuary. The single most consistent remark, almost universally, is how peaceful the animals are. I suppose we're so used to the peace and quiet of this place that it doesn't occur to us how really special it is. The dynamics of the herds are the reflection of the nature of these critters. They are naturally well ordered and sociable. I think folks that don't have the day in and day out opportunities to live in close contact with a herd don't get a chance to fully know about these creatures. We've watched horses with a life time of mistreatment and abuse return to a state of mental health and natural behavior. It's not us, it's their herdmates that make it happen. They simply know what horses are and that's what they expect from the others. The scars of abuse still show, both physical and emotional, but the wounds heal. There are still those that weave and crib, show "big" eyes and sit back on their heels, are scarred and marked. They and we don't dwell on that. They're horses, donkeys, and mules, not "rescues". I think it's really important to let them move on and be what they are, not keep them living in their past. That's a real lesson for our kind, isn't it. We believe that our critters know that they're home. They know that this is where they will live out their lives. That sounds pretty anthropomorphic, assigning human thoughts and feelings to them, a mental mistake we honestly try to avoid. But our daily observations of new resident animals adapting to and melding into the sanctuary tells us it's true. One recurring question we get is, "Don't you need help with the chores?" Once in awhile it's nice to have someone feed and water for us so that we can go somewhere and not have to watch the clock. But, for the most part, chore time is much more that throwing hay and running the hose. It is time to assess the well being and behavior of our critters. It's a time to pet a nose or rub some ears or scratch a rump. It's a time for us to tap into the peace of the herd and refresh ourselves. Often, I end my blog by encouraging you to go and love on your critters. I suppose I wish for you what I have everyday!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Where ever you would go, I'll follow...

From Jim: Those of us that have time around horses have occasions when we need to lead them. Halter breaking is an important skill for the horse person and to be well mannered on the lead should be part of a horse's skill set. Donna and I differ on preferred halters. She likes the flat nylon halters with buckles and won't use a lead rope with at bull snap. She likes the harness snaps with the little slide bolt. I prefer a tied rope halter. If it has a lead that's part of the rig, even better. Leads should be soft. I like cotton or really soft lay braided nylon or dacron. They should be around 3/4" around, 8' long or so, not flat, not skinny, not stiff, and never ever have a dog lead type wrist loop. When leading the coils should be folded together and held in the middle, not looped and held with the hand passing through them. The idea is that when the day comes that a horse bolts, and that day will come, you don't want to caught up in the lead and get pulled off your feet, dragged, and really hurt or worse. Horses need to learn to lead from either side. They should respect your space and pace. Waiting and turning about at gates is part of the deal. Standing and waiting, without a lot of fuss is too. At Home At Last, we want the critters to understand that they're being led and what's expected from them. Like all the rest of their schooling, it takes time and patience to get that done. We have a number of our animals that will lead on command, at liberty. They step up to your shoulder, attend, and follow. It's pretty cool. Most will lead with a piece of baling twine around their neck. A few, like good old Levi, are just a hand full. Leading a 1000 to 1400 pound animal is a serious matter. You need to pay attention. Your quiet confidence will reassure the horse. That's not the same as complacency and inattentiveness. About the time you get arrogant, the critter will return you to humility. I love the quote that says,"Your horse can only be as brave as you are". I also try not to impress them with how foolish I can be. I think they can easily be as foolish as I am. Respect for the immense power and quickness of these animals should always be included in any contact with them. They are hard wired to take to their heels without a second's hesitation. At the lead, they can overcome some, but not all, of their flight instincts. When, and again, not if, a critter blows up on the lead, Your demeanor will play a big part in the outcome. Yelling and being angry and aggressive will most likely just make things worse. Tugging and jerking on the lead rope in an attempt to overpower a frightened horse and "teach it a lesson" is a recipe for disaster. Restoring focus and attention, reassurance and confident leadership will get the animal back in hand and, then, you can reinforce want you want. I've seen folks back critters excessively, or lash out with the lead rope, as a punishment, or use lip chains and nose wires and skinny little cords to train by using pain. That is not acceptable here, shouldn't be anywhere. We want our animals thinking about us and what we want, not how much they're hurting. Using operant conditioning, pain aversion, and abusive tactics are sorry excuses for effective training. A gentle shake of the lead rope, a verbal cue, repetition of a skill behavior, patience and time, and more patience, that's the trick. Taking the time to "teach" your horse will make it a lot more fun to be around them. Know what you want and expect and teach to that outcome.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"INES" and such...

From Jim: A while back a monk with nothing else to do messed around with some sweet peas or something and now we're stuck with binomial scientific nomenclature-fancy Latin names-for critters. Lineas thought we should sort stuff out and classify it. Kingdoms, and phylums and genus and species and like that. We're an "equine" sanctuary because of that. Otherwise, we'd just have horses, donkeys, hinneys, and mules. We've got some other "ines" here. There's canines, felines, bovines, and caprines-not to be confused with ovines. The thing is, this sorting business is an "us" issue. The critters just accept that they're a part of the web of life. They carry on just fine without a lot of special Latin appellations. Their DNA includes all of the primal stuff that got them here through the ages. Horses know how to be horses and how to make more horses. Left alone, they do a fine job of it. When we mess around with who gets to be sires and dams we end up with all manner of problems. Colorful Appies that go blind from uveitis, Thoroughbreds, running like lightning, on terrible hooves-Secretariat died due to chronic laminitis, giant American Belgians with legs that fail. We choose what we think is wonderful and a bunch of other stuff gets thrown in. If the web of life was like a nylon stocking, we're the snags that cause runs. Doe's that mean I'm opposed to careful breeding programs? No, but I suppose I have a different idea about what "careful" is. Our goats, caprines to the well informed Latin speakers, are Nubian/Alpine crosses and African Pygmy. They are unaware of this, as they think of themselves as people. Our calves/child-steers are from dairy stock. Somewhere, down in the depths of their chromosomes a monstrous forest primeval bull is pawing the ground. Knowing Julian and Banjo, maybe not. The point is, these critters are part of the living stuff on this planet, as we are. Being a "sapient", I guess I should think about that. We're not above all of it, just of a part of it. We have our little linking strand in a great pattern. We fool around with that at our peril. I like sharing this place and time with other living beings. I appreciate their lives as I do my own. This "being alive" thing comes with strings attached. I find that comforting.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Money Worries, Weather Worries...

From Jim: We're into a new year and it's pretty clear that there will be some significant challenges facing the sanctuary. Because we believe every animal's life is precious and worthy, we are always on the ragged edge financially. If we have extra money, it means we're not saving as many critters as we could. We know from sad experiences that if not for this place, lives are cut short. Some of our residents have gotten their wings after only a few months, but they were loved and the last act of kindness our kind can give theirs was our gift to them. Our standard of care is driven by quality of life criteria that are constantly reviewed by our vet, our fellow horse lovers, and our own deeply held commitment to these wonderful creatures. It costs a lot of money. It takes a lot of time and hard work. It's not convenient or "magic pony" stuff. We need everyone who reads this blog or follows our Face Book page to step up. Small donations of 10 or 20 or 50 dollars truly make a difference. We are really concerned about holding this place together for the herd. Our outreach includes participation in local events, Home At Last Thrift and Gift Store, contests-we've won and placed in two national programs-and interaction with the media. We work very closely with Horse Plus Humane Society and Butte County Animal Control, Laura and Amazing Gracie visit rest homes, rehabilitation hospitals, and care facilities. We support and promote other rescues and sanctuaries here in Northern California and all over the United States-even some in other countries. We don't like to ask for help. It's uncomfortable for us. But, the needs of the animals are more important than our comfort. The other real issue facing us is the current drought. Without rain, soon, the wells will continue to lose production. The herd uses about 2500 gallons of water a day. Hauling in water would be possible, but really costly and time consuming. Worse still, the hay crop for next year will fail. Our hay is already up, but needs rain badly. I have already started weighing contingencies should we lose it. Again, it's possible to use cubes or pelleted feed but it would be a financial and logistic nightmare. Our animals live in herds. Trying to figure out how to feed a concentrated product and insure that everyone was getting their share is kind of mind boggling. We have 80 residents. Right now, it takes about 6 hours a day to feed and water. Bucket feeding? I don't know. So, a rain dance or three would be appreciated. I sure hope this doesn't sound like whining. It's not what was intended. We are so grateful for the great folks that support us. It's a large undertaking, this sanctuary. Your help is and always will be needed. We're not going to give in. Lives are at stake. Thanks for helping us save them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lacey, The Haflinger...

From Jim: A few years back Lacey came to Home At Last. She had been labeled a behavior problem. Seemed she bucked every time someone tried to ride her. Experience tells those of us that have been around horses for awhile, that usually the bucking comes from something other than a bad attitude. When we got Lacey home and started to carefully observe her, it seemed she was short on her right rear and toed in about 15 degrees. Well, we thought, Aaron can trim a lot of that out and with some time all will be well. WRONG! When her right rear was lifted to be trimmed, She did not like it at all. Stifle? No, not that. Hock? Not at all. That left her hip. Dr. Darling came out to put his eyes on the problem and, sure enough, Lacey has a dysplasic hip, congenital defect, not injury. She can manage this issue by compensating her stride, but the weight of a rider causes excruciating pain. And, there's your buck! Lacey is a really neat pet. She can be a sassy-pants. I love it when she tucks her head down and shakes her head and trots off. She's a real lady on the lead and enjoys being groomed and made over. She's prone to the scours. Dr. Gary feels there's nothing really wrong, just her particular digestive system. It does mean more bathes and tail scrubbing. She accepts and enjoys this attention. We've put a rocker in the trim of her rear right hoof and pushed the toe out about 10 degrees. This has helped her stride to even up and taken some of the strain off of her hip. She hangs out with Babe, our Pony of America, Bow, the mustang, and, now, Jackson, Bow's mule friend. This little sub-herd is about diversity I guess. They make quite a parade as they amble past. Lacey is an example of how misunderstood horse behavior can be frustrating or dangerous. Defects, injuries, ill-fitting, broken, or poorly constructed tack can and will usually result in what we perceive as behavior issues. A horse person should make it a point to become a skilled observer of the animals they're with. Watching a horse "walk out" or even lounging them to observe their movement is important in gaining insights about an animal's soundness. Thoughtful palpitation and the ability to test for flexibility, range of motion, and soreness are musts. If you're not up to that, have a trusted trainer or vet take a look. Too many animals are needlessly and painfully "trained", when there's an underlying problem that will never be trained away. Lacey can't be ridden. Never will be able to be ridden. It's not a fault of her mind or personality. She has never been bred, and with her defect, never should be. She sure can be a pet. Gives it her best everyday! We love our Haffy!

Horse work, Paper work...

From Jim: We're a 501c3 non-profit public charity. We're tax exempt and your donations are tax deductible. We're also a California State non-profit corporation. That's good, but means tons of paper work and very careful record keeping. Donna handles this part of the sanctuary's business. When you get your letter to document your donation for your tax return, it came from her. It was done with a lot of care. If it has an error, or doesn't show up at all, please let us know. We want you to have the tax benefit you deserve. Dr. Darling keeps very accurate records on all of our residents. They all receive at least an annual exam, often more. They are given yearly immunizations and dental care as needed. The geldings get a sheath cleaning whenever they're sedated. We check over the good Dr.'s records from time to time. Our accountant does a super job with tax filings with the Feds and State. We try to provide the best prepared information to keep the costs of this as low as possible. (Think, How many bales of hay is this?) The continuation of Home At Last is a life or death issue for our herd. They really don't have other options. That's why they're here. This time of year, Donna is up between 4 and 5AM, writing and printing letters to you and setting up records for Susie, our accountant. At six o'clock, we start getting sorted out to go feed. We want everyone of our supporters to know how very grateful we are for them. The wonderful animals that live here would tell you for themselves, if they could. We'll give em a pet for you!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

House pets or Pet house?

From Jim: We have four cats and three dogs that live in the house, most of the time. There are enough colors to complement anything you might care to wear. The furniture is considered to be community property by all. You will not find a protected seat anywhere. Patches, who is black and white, can single-handedly leave a trail of shed fur on any garment. The dogs feel an obligation to make sure everyone has a dog at arms reach at all times. Laz, our "small" dog weighs 82 pounds. Keecha and Love are WELL over 100. They all see themselves as potential lap critters. The kittys, true to their kind, would prefer to wait for really inconvenient moments to demand attention. When I'm fixing a meal seems to be a favorite. They also like to help with word processing by stepping onto the keyboard and hitting the "enter" or "escape" keys or, with their keen technical skills, any other key which will disable the danged computer. This is done whilst purring and rubbing on your clean shirt. We have Jurassic dust brontosaurs. They consist of enough fur to create museum quality models of the largest animals to walk the earth. The critters that reside in the house also expect that meals will be catered in appropriate quantities and at the correct times. Again, these are carefully coordinated to not fit in with anything we're doing. Serve the wrong repast at your peril! It will be scattered in a finely crafted geometric pattern requiring the maximum effort to clean up. Usually it will have sufficient water drooled on it the create a super glue floor coating. Stepping on a hard kibble in stocking feet is really something not to be missed. I'm pretty allergic to animal dander. Always have been.The constant congestion that results from this close association with our house pets is simply part of the deal. I could not imagine life any other way. Our house pets, all of our critters, are part of family. The cats and dogs which share our house help to make it a home. They give us their best all of the time. Sitting in front of the wood stove, with a hot cup of tea, a warm lap kitty, and a tail wagging dog at your feet , that's what a cold winter evening is supposed to be. They know it and so do we. If you visit the sanctuary, plan on a lot of close contact with the fur bearing members of the household.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Up Beat Update!

From Jim: Well, the trip to and from the airport was the trip to and from the airport-with a little fog. We really like Southwest Airlines. Their folks are so nice to work with. The TSA folks carry out their "treadmill" tasks with efficiency and politeness. Stopped for some breakfast on the way home. A little waffle shop in Oroville has reopened with around the 5th new management. It was good! I hope they make it, jobs are so important right now. Got home to find Brian and Linda getting the tractor loaded up to feed. Boy, was that ever nice. I immediately steeled myself for the hard work of a catch-up nap. It took a lot of self-discipline, but I was able to force myself to fall asleep in front of the wood stove with Laz at my feet. He's doing well with his cast and the mending process. Sure hope the "mule lesson" stuck. Pretty quick now, we'll need to get out and fill the water tanks. And then on to the evening chores, a simple dinner and back to the difficulties of being compelled to get more sleep. The holiday season is getting smaller in the rear view mirror already and that's OK. There is a season for everything under heaven and it's properly time to return to the quiet familiar life of the sanctuary.

Leavin on Jet Plane...

From Jim: Today starts at around 2 AM. Beth has an early flight back to Denver and we need to be at the airport by 5:00 so she can do all the "airport check in stuff" and we won't feel rushed. Beth is such a great kid. As her Poppy, it's been both hard and wonderful to see her grow up to be the young lady she's become. She'll start high school next year. Wow! Brian and Linda will feed for us this morning. We probably could have made it home in time, but, again, now we won't feel rushed. We've laughed about soon to be "empty nest" when Brian and, then, Linda move to the state of Washington. They're a lot more than just friends to us. They're planning a wedding later in the year, to be held here, at the sanctuary, critters are invited-ties optional. Our big plans for the rest of week include no big plans. It's time to cease the endless partying and get back to work. Every year, as Donna prepares the tax letters for our donors we are simply overwhelmed by the generosity of folks. We know and appreciate the love for the animals that went along with each gift. I've had more time with the lower herd lately. What a bunch they are! Tucker, our Appy mule, and Sweety Pie, the Hackney are worth the price of admission. Then there's Jake, the Belgian, and Smoke and Stony, the Q-horses, and so on. There's 18 in this herd. For a lot of reasons, they have the largest turn out. They are generally more aggressive, more active, and younger. When they decide on a rumpus, it's a wild west show for sure. Well, enough rambling. It's time load up the truck and head on out to the airport. Take some time to get the new year started by loving on your pets. It'll make you and them happy!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hello 2012!

From Jim: Well, Happy New Year! Time for writing the wrong year on stuff for about two months. Time for mourning the passing of DOA resolutions. Time to kick the can on down the road on issues and projects that were "For Sure" gonna get done in 2011. Isn't that just the way of it? We're not really into making resolutions based on the calender. We tend to get committed to stuff as it comes up. Doesn't mean it gets done any quicker or more certainly, just puts the disappoints on a longer schedule. Losing weight is the number one resolution that folks make each year. I would do that, but it would get in the way of eating. The best thing anyone can do for themselves seems to be to quit smoking, if they're doing that. Then I guess more exercise and a healthier life style would come next. I know being peaceful and really trying to get along with others is a positive trait. For sure, loving on your pets can help with this. They're so willing to share their peace. Around here, we're believers in serving a cause beyond yourself. Finding something meaningful and worthwhile and quietly working at it is a good thing for being at peace. Being for others, random acts of anonymous kindness, sacrificing a little comfort or self-indulgence so that another creature can have the necessities, being kind and gentle as a mark of strength, these are some things that create peacefulness and a quiet mind. Getting "I" statements under control helps. Listening more helps. None of these are destinations, just part of the journey. 2012 gives us another chance to drive forward with our goals and aspirations. I hope your new year is the best one you have ever had, until 2013!