On April 21st of 2015, Sir Cactus the Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pig was delivered to our ranch. He was in the worst possible shape that any animal can be in, especially a pig. The fact that he'd even survived the trip to us, after being rescued from a Casper, Wyoming freeway in the middle of the night, told us that he wanted to live, and we made a definitive choice on the day he was brought to us, to make that happen. And live he did. Until the ripe old age of 18 - when after two and a half years of blessing our lives with his presence, and becoming the very reason we started our rescue, Cactus decided it was time to go home. And so on a warm mid summer night, Cactus did just that. As I rubbed his cheeks and belly, I could swear as I said goodbye to him; that his beautiful, protective, and genuine spirit flew straight up to the heavens, and right over the biggest double rainbow I have ever seen.
Cactus was ready for bed and out for the night by 9pm on his first day. It was a trying and exhausting day for him but as he laid down on his new bed, with a brand new blanket (pigs love blankets) in our home (he was too sick to even put in our infirmary barn) we could tell he was relieved to finally feel safe, and cared for. Simon, our resident Newfoundland/Border Collie, stood guard over Cactus while Jared and I checked on him throughout the next 12 hours. That Simon... he never got an ounce of sleep that first night. He was the best animal caretaker we've ever had; and Cactus was sure glad to have him nearby.
It was determined that Cactus had most likely suffered through years of neglect, and abuse. He was missing one eye, had broken tusks and teeth, completely blind in the other, was completely deaf and severely emaciated. His hooves had grown so long, that they were curled up almost twice, and he could hardly walk. We had to tread carefully and with a lot of gentle patience with his care. He needed two in house surgeries and several foot trims before we could get most of his hooves back to something he could walk on. From the moment he came into our lives, he melted our hearts and welcomed our love, care and kindness; something that we became acutely aware of, he had probably never experienced before. After three months of care, 30 days of which was urgent care, Cactus was finally at half the weight of his gain goal, and could walk. He could also eat.... anything and everything, including Rhubarb, which quickly became his most favorite snack of the day.
Meet Maddie, our Jersey Milk Cow, and her adopted son Floyd. When Maddie arrived on our ranch, she needed some weight management and a bit of a boost in dietary needs, and has since come a long way thanks to the help and guidance of Douglas Feed and Purina. This was their first exploration of their new surroundings.
Maddie needed a little extra weight gain, and with some good guidance from our friend Michelle, and a hefty helping of good feed from Douglas Feed, she was putting on weight in no time.
It was a busy and adventurous day for Maddie and Floyd. Near the end of the day though, Maddie was in need of a good rest in her new home. Floyd was still too excited for his new place and wasn't quite ready to settle down yet.
Floyd and Nigel (ranch resident and self proclaimed stable hand) made fast friends. Floyd doesn't mind that Nigel is almost as big as him. Every day he's growing bigger and stronger and will soon be three times the size of his buddy.
Maddie and Sally (a new rescue) enjoying a meal together. It's been great to see her gaining some weight and eating so well.
These two are improving daily. You can already see the change in Maddie's face and neck. Floyd just found out he's going to be a big brother. He can't wait to introduce him/her to all his friends on the ranch! For now though, he's very content and happy to enjoy some cuddle time with mom!
Meet Sally, an 18 hands high, 13 year old Shire Draft horse. She was brought to us through the means of a wide scope of terrific people who wanted to help her get to us, from Billings, Montana to our ranch via Minnesota, her original place of rescue.
Sally arrived at the ranch on July 23rd, 2017. She was 700lbs underweight, with a score of 1 on the THE HENNEKE BODY CONDITION SCORING SYSTEM the worst score a horse can receive regarding overall health. She had little control over her balance and struggled to walk. By the 29th of July she was working with her green ball and able to maintain her balance better.
Miss Sally started to gain some of her independence back. On August 13th, she decided that she was perfectly fine squeezing through the "human" door, instead of her much more accommodating stall exit door.
By the time August 23rd rolled around, Sally had 75% of her balance back; which meant she's started to have more energy, and walked with a much better gait and less of a wobble. She was able to lie down and get up on her own, and had gained a total of 150lbs. Miss Sally also built some muscle structure back, most of which she had lost prior to arriving at the ranch.
Sally has made herself right at home. She's had no problem making friends with everyone from Nigel the St. Bernard, and Maddie the milk cow, to all the ponies and mules. Even Big Josh (our resident Belgian greeter) has built a very special bond with Sally by showing off his chivalrous side.
It's been a month and a half since Sally joined the ranch. When she's not following the other horses around during their exercise programs, she's out posing for pictures like a super model. She's gained a healthy 200lbs and she will now start putting on weight more rapidly, since she is stabilized and her stomach can handle an increase in her feed program.
Say hello to Angel and her little girl, Petunia. They arrived at our sanctuary on April 30th. We were so excited to work with them, and get them acclimated and introduced to the rest of the animals at their new forever home.
Making new friends seemed to be at the top of the list for this little girl. After introducing himself to Petunia for the first time, Big Josh, (our resident Belgian greeter,) explained to her that if she needed anything at all in this great big world, she just needed to whinnie, and he'd be right there.
After a few weeks at her new home, Petunia tried hard to figure out how to ride horse back like the humans, and with some encouraging words from beyond the fence, she just about figured it out. Angel, being the supportive parent that she is, had an unlimited amount of patience that day. All in all, mama and baby were proving to make good progress in their weight gain, and overall health.
Something smelled good and it didn't take long to discover that one of the humans brought coffee... in a Petunia proof cup.
Petunia has brought so much life and laughter to the ranch. She's the perfect combination of silliness and sass, and isn't afraid to let everyone see it.
After Cactus had been with us for a little while, we received Little Miss Pickles the Micro Pig, from Jared's Mother in Law, so that Cactus could have a more suitable friend, not that he minded Simon, or the ponies, or Jack the Turtle. Pickles guided Cactus around our yard, kept him company at night, and even shared her meals with him. They became the very best of friends, and were inseparable the entire time that Cactus was with us.
My favorite photo of Cactus, sixty days post his rescue, and his first outdoor bath. One that he got to enjoy without having to be sedated first. It was an incredibly joyous occasion for us, but more-so for Cactus, as it turned out he absolutely loved water, and insisted on baths on a regular basis. Even though Sir Cactus is no longer with us, his willful personality and desire to live, has never left us. His strong presence will be forever remembered, and missed around our sanctuary.
Duke, a Percheron nine year old Stallion, came to us on September 22nd with a lower leg and back injury, approximately 500lbs underweight, and with severe and extremely large fungal infections on the backs of both of his hind legs above the ankles; all of which were making it difficult for him to walk Comfortably. He also had a severe fungal infection on the top of his tail bone.
We knew that Duke had a LOT of life left in him, and soon found out that he had an enormous amount of will, and willpower, as well. He's made much progress in the last few months, especially after a visit with Horse Chiropractor Sallie Hawken, a good foot trimming from Jared, and a thorough vet check and regimen schedule from Dr. Smylie. Duke will receive monthly visits from the chiropractor and equine therapist for the rest of his years, and so will become part of our long-term care program, but he is well on the road to a better life.
Duke graduated to VERY light pulling exercise with our light wagon, 45 days post his arrival, and it is surely a sight to behold! Exercise and pulling will help build back the muscle he lost, and will help strengthen the muscles in the areas of his injury, which will help him move about more comfortably. Duke exudes a determination to keep moving forward in his progress, and he blesses us every day, with his willpower, and gentle nature.
Introducing Little Quack and Big Quack. These two fellows were brought to our rescue late one night around 9:30pm, along with one other duck friend; they were sick, under nourished, and in need of urgent care. Their friend who we named "Percy" was relocated to a new home (after she was brought up to better health) where a duck enthusiast and caretaker was better equipped for her special needs. After several weeks of care, Little Quack and Big Quack soon grew healthy and were even able to float again without sinking. Completely cleared of any illness, and now fat and sassy, they've both become quite comfortable with their new surroundings here at the ranch, and keep all the other fowl on their toes.
Big Quack and Little Quack have a great time sharing the yard with the other animals. They don't even mind when Pickles our resident "Greeter" micro pig, engages in sharing the spotlight, and providing us with some pretty memorable photo bombs. The three have now become fast friends, and Miss Pickles never minds giving us a notifying squeal if one of them need a little assistance in their (very own, built just for them,) pond.
When we got The Quacks, it was decided a swimming hole would need to be installed for them to play around in. Little Quack wasted no time at all diving in and getting his feathers wet.