Spring 2020 – This YEAR IN REVIEW update follows the adage that “Life happens while you’re busy making other plans!”
That was certainly true for us in spades! Last year we had to limit our scope for the year for Paws for Humanity to tend to personal and family matters.
With our more limited time, we were able to start planning programs for THIS spring / summer season! We focused on 2 program goals:
- Working with scouts
- Developing animal training programs and educational workshops for our community
> A girl scout troop had taken us on as part of their community service program, starting a drive for needed supplies for us, and planning a weekend to come out and help work in the barns this spring.
> We officially hired our Dog Trainer and outlined training and educational workshops to kick off the summer on site, and prioritized needed repairs and additions to our facilities to house groups come rain or shine.
> Hazel, our therapy dog, started accompanying Dale on some home and nursing home visits he had for hospice, and when we took in a litter of kittens at 5 weeks, we found a way to provide “kitten therapy” to the hospice team in the office once a week. We’re proud to say all 3 kittens were spayed/neutered and adopted out to loving homes!
> We even had a boy scout troop come camp out on our farm right before the stay at home proclamations rippled through Michiana. We were excited to figure out how to work with troops to help them obtain their badges and training goals!
Then the world shut down. It took the wind out of our sails. As it did the country. As it did all countries. So, we need to find our new normal. and take care of ourselves and the animals we are stewards to. And we need to be patient. And be present. and BE…
Spring 2019 – Honestly, our first year and a half here has been a BLUR!
It has been wonderful to take the time to look back to be able to share this with you! It was a year of firsts… finding our rhythms and schedule as we juggled our day jobs, the land, caring for the Alpaca, and the beginning of the rest of the work to make our dream into a tangible business reality.
We thought we started well through fall… then the snow come. Holy cow did we get snow in the 2017-2018 season! Good thing we planned our swan song vacation for February… we went to Hawaii for a week while friends and family pitched in and cared for all our animals. We came back to an early warm spell… very squishy land for a couple of months, impossible to take the tractor out! But, the geese came to our pond late February inspiring us to thoughts of a new season.
We adopted a (newly fixed) Billy goat, and a pregnant doe in early March. While at the store getting all the supplies we needed, I slowed down by the baby CHICKS and we brought 6 home and set up a spare room in the basement for their home until we could acclimate them outdoors. What a fun March!
April came, real spring came, we built a chicken coop in a barn (still not warm enough for the little ladies to be all the way outside without heat) and started preparing for fun on the land!
We made it through our Alpaca’s first shearing (an interesting and intense experience the first time); found our farm vets; prepared the outdoor chicken coop and run; and started planning our projects for the year.
By May we had our website domain secured and were planning our website; logo; incorporation papers for the state; and the bylaws and board planning for the federal application for the 501(c)3. Beth took a week class at an Equine Therapy Center on business planning and sustainability.
May was also full of new life. Our doe, Janey, had her baby Gabby on May 25; and we accepted a barn cat and her kittens into our fold. Early June we also added another female goat. Our Chickens were happy in their coop and secured area until a major storm downed part of a tree right over their coop. Amazingly, they were in the coop at the time, on the side that was spared. All were fine… and by morning enjoyed the benefits of now being free range! We let them continue to roam the land as they made their way back to the coop each night by dusk… everybody just marched home!
I can describe summer on the farm in three words. Mowing mowing mowing.
We had visitors, tons of fun with the animals, and just kept plugging away at repairs, projects and working on the business end of things. One of our female Alpaca, Tamara, came out of her shell and started coming up to us – and visitors to say hi when she felt like it. It’s humbling and wonderful to be trusted by those amazing animals!
In September, we accepted in another small family of chickens… literally. An English Game hen who had 4 chicks needed a new home when they found that 3 of the 4 chicks were roosters… most town zoning doesn’t allow roosters… so they had to move. They are so beautiful, and I don’t think anyone ever told them they were so small… their personalities are just as big as the rest of our flock!
We also welcomed a second litter of kittens by our barn cat… she had escaped our effort to catch her to be fixed… and, well, nature is nature. She’s smart, but we’ll never give up! Later in the fall we took one of the kittens into our home as he had an eye infection. We then decided to bring them all in before Christmas. We wanted them socialized well and fixed and will adopt them out this year.
October brought a shift in our projects… prepping for winter! We had our first community program with cub scouts, and had the alpaca fiber processed into dryer balls and yarn for our first fundraiser which rolled out right before the holidays.
Our website went live December 4, and we completed our by-laws and got our application finished soon after. In February we started looking into social media platforms, and hope to go live by summer!
Our goals aren’t nearly as lofty this year… we’re hoping to gain a little traction month by month… in planning, networking, and starting programs. It feels good to be well into year two, settling in, understanding the routines, being able to plan ahead a little… and of course knowing that life happens while you’re busy planning something else!