by Clay Stauffer
“I gotta win the lottery, get a house with a front porch and a pond, and get ducks.”
That right there is pretty much my one-word summation of spending the good part of a week at Horse Camp (a close second would be “Making coffee with a percolator is not something I am born for.”) Horse Camp is what we are calling the two campers out at the third pasture overlooking a pond and the ducks thereof. The ducks come in to be fed, and horses come up to hang out, and if that sounds amazing, why yes. It most certainly is.
by Jen Zak
On my first day of volunteering at the WINGS Programs I got to meet most of the horses and donkeys on the ranch. Of course, little Abby stood out the most. I have such a hard time remembering names and identifying who is who, but not Abby. Abby is special, and it is obvious by her physical appearance that her past may have not been an easy one. The description of how this beautiful dwarf mini-horse arrived versus her life now is the happy life I believe Abby was intended to have all along. Her new life includes being very well taken care of at the ranch, having friends to hang out with, and enjoying a healthy diet. Not only is Abby one of my favorites on the ranch, but she is also a favorite at all the events she attends.
by Cari Denhardt
Summer is in full swing here at the Wings Programs! With summer comes all kinds of excitement on and off the ranch. Our group of minis have been moving and shaking all over town. Between birthday parties, their Friday cameos at Sapphire Lutheran Homes concerts, the Stock Farm cookout, Celtic festival and more - they’ve been busy to say the least! These minis love the attention, as much as the kids (and adults alike) love giving it. We'll be there all four days (Aug. 30 - Sept.) of the upcoming Ravalli County Fair - be sure to come say hi!
by Clay Stauffer
My name is Clay Stauffer and this is my blog post for Wings. You may know me as the “Sundays with Clay” guy who posts fun, quippy videos on Instagram and Facebook (something I need to get back to.) This will not be a fun, quippy blog post. But I feel things should be shared. Let me formally introduce myself: my name is Clay Stauffer and I suffer from depression and it’s annoying little brother, anxiety.
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.
by Krystle Gehring, guest blogger
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.
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.
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.
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.
Laura Weise is a Wings volunteer who lives in Stevensville and will be bringing you stories of life at the barn.