getting ready for spring
Now that it seems the coldest weather is finally behind us, we're preparing for Spring at the ranch. Spring means putting out hoses, cleaning up hay and debris that's blown around the ranch, and dressing up our minis for Easter. :-)
This is Nell, our mini Appaloosa, in her Easter Bunny costume. As a fundraiser, we're offering costumed minis for birthday party and event photo opportunities. We can also dress up a cowboy, dragon, fairy, angel and unicorn mini. We had some photo ops at a few events last year and the kids loved it. Check our Events page for details on how to book a mini party.
Good for the soul
by Krystle Gehring, guest blogger
weather or not
Oof, it's been a challenging winter to be working outside at the ranch! As you all have experienced, the extreme cold weather we've had this winter has been tough to take. I never thought I'd be working outside in -11 degree weather, but that's what I did this past Sunday while helping out with the morning feeding. The first thing I did when I got there, aside from taking a big swig of hot coffee, was get the feed vehicle started (ugh) and throw hay to the horses.
the wisdom of youth
We had a young man come to Wings last fall as an intern/volunteer, helping out with caring for the horses and experiencing the Montana lifestyle. He wrote a thoughtful essay on his experience at Wings that we wanted to share.
By Guest Blogger Tad Wilson
I’m always surprised by how much personality animals have, and how much more there always is to find. My dog at home, a Jack Russell/Maltese mix named Quincy, seems when you meet him to be your typical yappy little nuisance, and a lot of people write him off in a few seconds. If you decide to stick it out past that, he’s an incredibly friendly and patient dog, and I know that all annoying dog owners say that, but in this guy’s case it's true. He’s really good with kids, will put up with nearly anything my little brothers can do to him, and generally complains about nothing except the mailman and our actually annoying toy poodle, Paddy.
Busy summer days
SO much has been happening this summer! Since I last posted, we have been dealing with the unrelenting heat, which is still continuing into September - a first since I moved to Montana 23 years ago. With the heat comes the flies, and we were really pretty lucky this year as the flies didn't get really bad until about three weeks ago. Now the smoky air is making it even harder. My most important tasks at the ranch are now keeping water troughs full, keeping our landscaping plants alive and fly spraying the horses and donkeys.
farewell to sweet ariel
Our little mini-donkey Ariel passed away today from complications of liver failure. It's always so hard when this happens, especially when it's a sweet soul like Ariel. She was always so friendly, coming up to me looking for treats and letting me pet her. The last time I saw her I was helping our volunteer Justin brush out the last of her scraggly winter coat before she left for her summer foster home. She was so good, she just stood there and let us brush her with the shedding blade.
missing my heart
It's been a while since I blogged because I became ill and had to be hospitalized briefly. Compared to being at Wings, being in the hospital is like a visit to another planet. It's been a bit more than two weeks since I've been to the ranch and been able to say hi to the horses. It feels like a piece of my heart is missing. I'm recovering well and plan to be back at the ranch for an event next week, but it's been a difficult time. Being ill is bad enough. Being away from the horses...I miss them more than I can say. They have been a huge part of my life for more than a year, and I know now that I don't want to live without horses in my life. If you've ever spent time with horses you know what I mean.
I missed all the fun the past two weeks. Wings in the Memorial Day parade, Wings at the Montana Mule Days, and Wings' new HorsePlay Days program. I loved seeing posts on Facebook but I miss all the people and animals that make Wings a special place. I hope some of you got to see the equines at Mule Days and meet some of our staff and volunteers.
The thing I miss doing the most is feeding the horses. There's something so basic and fulfilling about caring for them, making sure they have water, giving them their mash and hay, nurturing them just by making sure their basic needs are met. There's a new rescue I haven't even met yet, and I really miss seeing Baby Ellie growing and learning. I'm doing my best to get well quickly so I can get back to the things that really matter to me: horses.
Mini Visits at Sapphire
by Phil Connelly
The Wings mini horses Lucy and Dancer paid two visits to the residents of Sapphire Lutheran Homes in April as part of our community outreach. Laura, Sherry, Karen, Debora, and Lisa accompanied the mini’s. Residents very much enjoyed spending time with the horses. Lots of photos of the horses and the residents interacting were taken (some of which will be shared with the folks at Sapphire). Residents of Sapphire can look forward to two additional visits which will take place in May.
new life at the ranch
Yesterday I got to meet Ellie, the baby mini-horse who was born at 2 a.m. on May 1st. Her mom, Dolly, came to us at the end of January. She was rescued from a breeding facility along with other mini-horses, mini-donkeys and mini-cows. We weren't sure when Dolly would deliver her foal since no one knew when she had been bred, but there are certain physical signs that birth is imminent so Debora just kept checking her. We got a stall prepared in the barn with comfy bedding, a red heat lamp and a table outside the stall stocked with whatever might be needed to assist in the delivery. Dolly started showing signs that she was almost ready. And we waited...and waited. We put Dolly in the foaling stall at night, and Sherry and Debora took turns checking on her all night throughout the last week. And we waited...
Spring ups and downs
It's always a relief when Spring arrives! I love living in Montana, but the winters can be tough to take sometimes, especially working outdoors. I always look for that first buttercup in my front yard, and that gives me hope that the warm weather is coming. This spring was tempered by the loss of our beloved Spike, who died in his sleep at the end of March. He was so sweet, such a wonderful spirit, and it's always hard to say goodbye to a friend. Debora wrote a nice memorial to Spike, and it reminded me of my own animal friends that I have loved and lost. I always try to remember that the joy they bring to our lives outweighs the pain of saying goodbye. I'm so glad I knew him.
Laura Weise is a Wings volunteer who lives in Stevensville and will be bringing you stories of life at the barn.