I started writing my blog a couple of weeks ago. Then the unimaginable happened. Randy was rushed to the hospital, transferred to St. Louis, and was in surgery for a thoracic anuersym within a few hours. The original plan for the blog was to discuss the recent school shootings and the vision for the ranch. Along with answering the question, “What does one have to do with the other?”
The message is still an important one, but I also realize how close we came to losing the heart behind the vision. The difference between a successful and unsuccessful implementation of a vision often comes down to heart. Randy has a dream, a passion, and a vision. His heart lead him to the ranch and his passion is making it a reality. As he was going into surgery, he was more concerned about the care of the animals than he was his own health. During his time in the hospital his absence at the ranch was felt by all. The ranch was well cared for by everyone, but even the animals knew a critical part, the heart, was missing from the ranch. You could see it in the faces of the workers and volunteers. It could be seen in the eyes and actions of the animals. It could be felt in my heart, as I couldn’t seem to put words and emotions onto paper. There are certain people that God has chosen to share with us, that inspire us, to be better. Randy is one of those people and I am thankful we will have more time to move his vision forward at the ranch. My heart is much lighter knowing once again, the heart of the ranch is home where he belongs. We are all blessed.
Below is the finished blog I was writing before that tragic Friday when all of us were saying a few more prayers.
Healing our Nation, One Person at a Time
A lot has been weighing on my heart since the most recent school shooting. I pray for all of the families that have been touched by these tragedies and I pray for our nation.
I look around at our our menagerie of animals and have first hand witnessed their healing power. These broken and forgotten animals have come together to create a place of healing, for both themselves and those around them. I wonder if these children committing these horrible crimes were somehow broken and forgotten, just like our animals.
The world can be very hard for people and animals that don’t fit comfortably into our society. We, at the ranch, have a unique opportunity to help both animals and humans. Randy has a vision for the ranch that goes beyond saving the animals, he envisions helping people who may struggle to fit in as well. The ranch has already provided healing powers for many of the volunteers and just as the ranch is in its infancy, so are the programs we foresee for people.
There is a term for the vision, it is animal assisted activity (AAA). It is a more casual and unstructured group of programs allowing interaction between people and animals.
This interaction may be as simple as spending quiet time with the animals or may include more hands-on working and learning at the ranch. In all cases, the programs will be custom built to heal and strengthen the bonds between humans and animals, as well as appreciation of the ranch. Below are some of the programs we hope to develop and how I hope we can begin healing our nation, one person at a time.
Special Needs Program – designed to help children and adults that have physical or mental abilities which require learning outside of traditional environments. Each program would be customized for the participants. Hopefully this will include special needs students from local schools, autistic individuals, those with Down’s Syndrome, and other groups yet to be identified. How amazing it will be to connect these group with the ranch and animals. There is a special language that goes unspoken between this amazing part of our society and the animals.
Seniors Program – Often our senior population is confined to senior living facilities. Many in this area came from farms and ranches. The vision is to bring those individuals back to the ranch to rekindle their passion. This may come from spending time gardening, visiting or assisting with the animals, or simply fishing in the pond. Mentally and physically our seniors can benefit from this interaction. We can listen for there is still much to learn from our seniors.
PTSD Program – People suffering with PTSD have a unique disadvantage in our society and need special places to heal. With our ranch located near a major military base, we have the opportunity to offer a place where these individuals can come and benefit from a relationship with our animals. With proper resources, we should be able to develop an equine program that can connect these individuals with our horses. There is nothing quite as special as the bond between man and horse. In its own way, it can help settle a soul.
Youth Program – This program would be specifically designed to reach the youth in our community that often don’t fit into the ready made society created in our schools. They may be bullied, or be the one doing the bullying. It may be the socially awkward or LBTQ kids that really don’t feel they fit in anywhere. It may be the underprivileged or those missing a responsible adult in their lives that can introduce them to the special relationship between man and animals at the ranch. It is society’s responsibility to identify and reach out to these kids before they reach the point of hopelessness. Both Randy and I know what it is like to be on the outside and if the ranch can be a part of helping these kids, we owe it to them, ourselves, and the ranch.
I am being given a very special opportunity to assist in the development of these programs and I hope to share with all of you the successes and challenges we face along our journey.
As always, be kind to one another. Give your kids, human or otherwise, an extra hug. Life is too short, as we all have recently been forced to realize.
Love from the ranch,