Just about every day and for sure, when 12 year old girls visit THE FARM, I am asked “What’s it like to live on Refuge Farms?”
That answer is not a simple one...
How do I explain the extreme emotions that come and go within just a single day? The physical labor that never ends? The worry about a creature when you cannot have a conversation and ask “Where does it hurt?” The stress of finding good hay and then the additional stress of trying to pay for it? The work involved in fighting the cold? The extreme heat? And the absolute joy in watching the horses play? The wonderment of witnessing a Human Being connect with a worn out, thrown out Horse and seeing that connection as clearly as I can see the sky? The peace that comes at the end of each day?
The answer to this question is very complicated, it seems to me. But read on… maybe my clumsy words can express to you what my heart is saying:
Each day I begin with a hope and a prayer
That today will be safe and good
And that in some way we will help someone out there.
That calm will prevail: That healing will occur:
That we’ll touch someone with a ragged old horse:
That we’ll make a difference in someone’s life
And be grateful, at the end of this day.
The volunteers come – Oh happy day!
They mow, they trim, and they pull those infernal weeds!
They clean barn and corral and all without pay!
I say simply “Thank You” before they go away.
Without them, you know, there is no Refuge Farms
Thank you, I say, to you at the end of this day.
A new one comes! What joy! We all smile!
Is it a mare? A gelding? Is it big or is it small?
Can it walk? Is it lame? Is it short or is it tall?
Can it eat? Is it starved? Can we brush it? Can we get close?
Most of all, I ask, can we heal it? Can we help it?
How could it have gotten this way?
I am grateful – although a bit worried – with this new one
But I am calm due to faith, at the end of the day.
The volunteers come – Oh happy day!
They clean barn, they pick the corral!
They clean tanks, and they help with anything on the list!
“We take care of you”, one said, “So you
can take care of them.”
No payback expected – only recurring gifts.
I thank the Lord for each and every one
At the end of every single day.
We lose one today. What pain! We all cry.
The healing is over, the time has come to move on.
Selfishly we want a bit more time - another chance to help.
But soon we smile through our tears and tell those stories
Of how this one touched a life and how this one taught us even more.
Me? I’m sad but so grateful to have been there
To hold that big head at the end of It’s days.
Sometimes when I pause to survey the herd, I am truly amazed
That out of these rejects we have such gifts!
Such patience, such determination, such good will and forgiveness!
If only we’d watch and learn from these ministers!
If only we’d let them teach us!
Through all of their pains, through all of their grief,
Through all of their fear they still tolerate and accept us.
I pray for wisdom and a careful eye.
I have the big heart, the big hands, and the strong back.
Please give me guidance to know when to treat.
Please give me wisdom to know only when to help cross.
This is what I ask at the end of every day.
So you see some days I’m laughing and some days I’m crying
And some days I’m weary with the weight of it all.
But I would be no other place and at no other time
For you see my life, too, has known loss and pain,
But these creatures are my salve.
I only want to share them with you – they are all that I have.
So come – come to THE FARM! And know of their love!
We’ll make a difference in your life – I know that
like there’s a sky above!
You’ll have horse drool and you’ll have dog hair on your shirt –
And you’ll notice that you smell like horse, I’m sure
But you’ll be happy you were here, you’ll be glad that you came
And you’ll smile as you remember them at the end of today!
Sandy Gilbert - Summer, 2004