January is a month that often makes us think about beginnings and fresh starts. Some part of every day can be beautiful.
We just celebrated our 5th Sanctuary anniversary in December, so it seems fitting to honor the very first official rescues to arrive here. You probably already know our Three Amigos! Yes, Marky, Billy and Napoleon Goats. You may not have known Pippin Pony.
In November of 2016, John and I visited the MSPCA Nevins Farm in Methuen. Equipped with the knowledge that we had a small barn onsite and one aging wooden paddock, we approached the MSPCA with the plan to bring a truly needy equine to the sanctuary as soon as the ownership of the land was official on December 15, 2016. They had many deserving equines, each and every one in fact. But we knew that we needed to keep things to the scale of our inherited space, so we focused on the ponies over the larger horses. Elderly Pippin at thirty one years of age, a gray Welsh pony with his lesson-pony and companion-pony past, spoke to our hearts. The MSPCA agreed to hold him for us until we could take him.
They then asked if we might consider helping them with another rescue situation. They had just received two Nubian male goats from Lawrence Animal Control. Found and saved from an illegal backyard butchering operation in Lawrence MA, they arrived unneutered, thin, shy, and scared at the MSPCA. In the same week, a small, unneutered and shy male Nigerian Goat (with jaw wattles, and a dapper beard and horns) arrived as a surrender at the MSPCA, and they placed the three of them together in a quarantine paddock to bond. We could not leave them behind, so we agreed to rescue them as well.
In November, all three male goats were neutered, and fed appropriately to build up their weight. Marky was the boldest of the three - Nubian, tall, grizzled gray, long ears, horns, and some arthritis plus the orthopedic quirk of walking on his toe-tips on his rear legs. The best guess is that Marky was about five years old at that time. It is possible that Billy might be Marky’s brother - if not from the same mother or father, then certainly in spirit. Billy is tall, white, has long ears and horns, and is a very gentle soul. At first, the little Nigerian male, Napoleon, was very shy and would not spend time with Billy and Marky, and would not come up to John or me. Hard to believe, I know.
December 16th arrived, and the MSPCA transported Pippin Pony, Marky, Billy and Napoleon to the Sanctuary. Pippin was led to a cozy stall in what is now our Healing Haven Barn. During the day, we spent time with the goats, who moved to what is now the Welcoming Corner Paddock.
It did not take very long before Marky, Billy and Napoleon became close friends, and grew to love the gentle attention of all of us at the Sanctuary. Everyone would say that it is hard to imagine them thin and shy! We would have to guess they are about ten years of age now in 2022.
We loved sweet and gentle Pippin Pony for the 7 months we were blessed to know him. He was described on his intake papers at the MSPCA as a "soured lesson pony" who had just been working at a barn as a companion to a mare that had just passed. He ate more and more calories under the guidance of our vet team, but continuously lost weight. Pippin must have lived at so many different places before he came to us, his final home. We learned a lot from him about the day-to-day with equines, and we also learned how to say farewell to a rescue, when his wasting-cancer was clearly not something we could cure. We made sure to lay him to rest before he was unable to walk on his own, giving him the best last day possible. We miss him still, but he inspired our determination to rescue horses as part of the mission.
When you visit our live webcams, or visit in person, you are greeted by our goats, sheep and Maxine the Llama. Marky is still the bold one likely to be first to come to the fence. "The Three Amigos" we call them, and they adore it when the volunteers brush them. Marky and Billy are inseparable, and Napoleon is still usually found near them. They have experienced what it is like to be at-risk in the past, and truly know the value of kindness. Marky, Billy and Napoleon teach us daily about the beauty of forgiveness and love.
What will the year ahead bring? We don't know for sure but we will focus on doing our very best for all the rescues.