Our farm animals are our “healing partners” and they are the backbone of our farm!
Often people stop by and walk the field to our goats, visit our horse at the stable or listen to the cackling of our chickens, buy some fresh eggs and they feel a bit relieved of their problems, they are able to refocus energy on the problem/ problems troubling them. They often leave with a smile, a tiny bit renewed, rejuvenated, and ready to face their reality whatever it may be.
When our groups visit they always interact with our horse, brushing and walking him, gather eggs, paint birdhouses for our spring time bird arrivals and visit the hay barn sweeping up the chaff and readying for the first gathering in of hay this coming June.
Our animals are essential …. Let me introduce them to you!
We currently have twenty egg laying chickens, all colors which look very pretty when they are foraging in the pastures. They are a mixture of Leghorn, Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red chickens. We order from various hatcheries day old chicks raise them up and in approximately three- four months they become our egg producers. We have some dedicated customers who buy our eggs and that helps buy our grain for feed. We have a handicapped accessible chicken coop so individuals in wheelchairs or walkers can help gather eggs.
We also have a small flock of Bantam Hens ( these are miniature chickens….who are very sweet and friendly…they coming running up to say hello when they see someone walking in the field )
We bought a Hen and Rooster (we named them Owl and Cricket) from Common Ground Fair in Unity, Me. this past fall (2017) they decided to nest and brought out six little chicks. It was truly a miracle to watch the eggs hatch…. and Owl and Cricket made wonderful parents! These little hens lay little white eggs in the spring. We have a customer who loves these little eggs, she says they fit perfectly on her english muffin….she has one every morning for breakfast!!
Our newest arrivals are a pair of (not so miniature) miniature male goats: Shadow and Gus. They were donated to us from LakeWood long term care facility which is affiliated with Inland Hospital, Waterville, Maine.
They were purchased by Vicki Dyer, innovative supervisor of the Dementia unit who felt that two cute little baby goats would be enjoyed by the residents who live at the facility. The baby goats received a lot of loving attention growing up, and the residents loved them…..However as the baby goats grew to be larger than miniature goats they required more land than could be allocated to them by the facility. Ms. Dyer asked Dr. K ( Roland H. Knausenberger M.D. who is a consultant to the Ephphatha Board) if they could live at the farm. We said a resounding yes after we heard the story (and we thoroughly Applaud Ms Dyers alternative, innovative approach in caring for the residents there)
So Ms Dyer’s husband Gary came and built a mini addition on our chicken coop and Gus and Shadow came to live with us in December 2017 an early Christmas gift!
Even though the winter was challenging (as Maine winters usually are ) the boys came through the cold very well and loved playing in the snow. They are very gentle as they were raised by gentle, loving hands and are fun to watch as they prance and jump from rock to rock! With the warm spring sun they bask in its golden rays and love to lay on a pile of hay and take a mid morning nap.
The farm is less than five miles away from LakeWood so the residents can come visit them whenever they would like….. a Happy Ending for all involved!!
Scottish Piper is our two year old shepherd pup ( and something else…. he is very long so maybe dachshund? However he is over 100 pounds….. so that doesn’t work (ha ha!)
Piper was named for the Scottish Pipes. The Director of Ephphatha’s daughter was studying in Sterling, Scotland at the time the pup came home and Loved listening to the Pipes so the name piper came to be.
Pip (his nickname) is a loving mascot of the farm. He loves everyone. It is true that he can be a bit exuberant and boisterous, and gets into a bit of trouble (like last May 2017 a tumble with a porcupine….after all night surgery and a course of antibiotics bounced back (thank goodness.)
He is calming down as he ages and is a gentle, loving asset to our farm and a lot of fun….he will chase a squeaky ball endlessly and that keeps our younger visitors (and those young at heart) to the farm engaged and giggling…a great sound to
have on the farm.
Diamond was purchased in Pennsylvania last spring by Lea Edwards. Lea saved him from an auction and an unknown fate. She saw his gates (a Wonderful cantor, a bit fast but with training and time this gelding could become responsive)
Lea brought him to summer camp in Maine, where she directs equestrian activities.
At the end of summer after camp had ended, the horses in the summer program were heading to South Carolina to be in the fox hunting program at Lea’s farm. However just about the end of August, Lea and I met and I confided that I was looking for a second therapy horse.Lea mentioned Diamond.
So I met Diamond rode him loved his gates (especially his cantor) and was touched by his quiet gentleness.
So “Diamond in the Rough” is now at Ephphatha. He is 15 years old, 15.1 hand dark bay with two little white anklet socks on his back fetlocks.He arrived here end of September. He is a quiet, careful and introspective horse. We are beginning his therapy training, and he is doing well.He is acclimating to his new home and all the sights and sounds of our therapy farm.
Equipment such as walkers and motorized chairs and wheelchair ramps coming down and going up are all part of his education now! Little by little we approach all of his different assignments and so far he is able to handle these different sights and sounds.
All fall and winter he will receive this education and come spring we hope he will graduate into a first class therapy partner and provider and join our Bodie as part of our equine therapy team bringing healing and smiles to our members!
We will keep everyone informed of his progress so stay tuned!!!
Last but not Least is our therapy horse Bodyke. Bodyke is named for a town in Ireland and was born in Georgia, USA. “Bodie” is 18 years old, 16 hands high gelding part Irish Draft/ Percheron. He is a big horse and his size corresponds with his large gentle, generous heart.
He is trained for therapy by our PATH INTL certified riding instructor (please check out the PATH website for more information on Therapeutic Horsemanship). Bodie is currently being used for ground work with clients who are in wheelchairs or walkers and people who have balance issues. Bodie is gentle and doesn’t shy away from specialized equipment our clients must use for their well being. He approaches all types of wheelchairs(manual and motorized) gently, and softly nuzzles the occupants of all types of assistive devices until be receives a pat on his nose.
As with all Therapy horses (which need to be ridden by able bodied riders, it helps them cope and prevent burn-out as they work with the disabled) Bodie receives instruction in the discipline of Dressage, and in fact is scheduled to attend a Dressage training clinic Last of April 2018 at Emily Stevens farm; Rustic Acres, Somerville,Maine with Dressage Instructor Susan Schoettle.
Currently we are searching for our third Therapeutic horse….its an Intense search, requiring travel, professional Veterinary opinions and physical exams because the horse has to be uniquely gifted, physically and mentally. It takes many hours of consolidated effort by many professionals….but it is all worth it when you successfully find the right horse and see the positive impact this horse can make
on an individuals life.
This spring we have a few candidates to “interview” access qualifications and their potential to become exceptional Healing Horses and steady partners on our farm.