Soby Ranch A place for Rescue and a Journey to Peace.
|Posted by SobyRanch on April 28, 2013 at 7:15 PM||comments (1)|
By Anne Lenihan Bremer
This week has been a difficult one. It started out just busy. By Tuesday morning I had a cold which is still lingering even as a write this. At least now I am feeling as if the fog will lift. But let's go back to Tuesday...
I had a bad night's sleep Monday night so I slept on the couch as it elevated my head better, which is important when a cold has you feeling as if you are drowning. By noon I was starting to feel a bit better. It was then I got a phone call from my friend. Joy and her husband John own and run Soby Ranch Ministry, where I serve on the board and hang out as much as I can. I love the ranch, but there is one at the ranch I have loved more than any of the others. His name was Doc.
I've written about Doc before. He came to Soby after years of hard work pulling a Carriage in Central Park. At age 17 he was already an old man due to the nature of his life. A Percheron horse, a large draft species, he should have intimidated this uninitiated horse person. But something magical happened the day I met Doc. I gave him an apple the way I was taught to give one, holding my hand out flat so as not to get bit. I stood on my side of the fence, he on his and held out my hand with its apple offering. He ate the apple right out of my hand and then he leaned forward. I was scared so I just stood still as he reached across the gate and proceeded to wrap his head and neck around mine in an incredible horse version of a hug. I was in love from that point on.
Over the next year I visited Doc at least weekly. Joy and John may have owned him but in my heart he was mine! I finally understood the joy of being loved by and loving a horse. I bought myself a pair of work boots and spent many fun afternoons wandering the pastures and the barn, always with my best bud in tow. And I brought apples for Doc every time! I was his apple lady and he knew it. He was my sweet horse and he taught me so very much.
The phone call Tuesday rocked my world. Doc had gone down in the night, the same night I had had a hard time sleeping. By morning he was having seizures. It was time to put him down. I wasn't there, but I knew Joy gave him a hug for me. I prayed and cried most of the afternoon. I would never be the same having loved that big boy. The rest of the week was spent with me being sick. I had wanted to write something for Doc but have only now finally felt up to putting keystrokes to tablet.
So here is my tribute to my dear friend Doc. Doc was a physical reminder to me of God's love and grace. I loved because he loved me first. He was the one who reached across the divide to invite me into relationship with him. That's exactly how God works. He makes the first overture, we respond either by joining the dance or declining. When I walked through the pastures with him, he never left my side. He was my "strong tower", my guardian protector. No other animal could harm me as Doc stayed tightly to my side placing himself between me and even the hint of danger. Sometimes the other animals wanted to get closer to me but Doc was a jealous horse. He would not share me with the rest of the herd. I was his. He was mine. When I had a bad or rough day Doc provided me with nickers of tenderness and was there to hear my concerns or just hug me. God does that for us too.
Doc loved when I came to spend time with him and bring my gifts to him. His favorite offerings were apples, but he also accepted carrots, grain, hay, and love. And he loved me just as much when I just brought myself and not treats. God desires our worship. He loves our offerings of time, talent, and treasures. But his favorite offering is that of ourselves.
I learned much about horses and farm life from Doc, but even more I gained a deeper understanding of my relationship with God because of him. There will never be another Doc in my life. I'm sure there will be other horses. Doc made my fear of horses disappear. But there will never be another first horse. There will never be another Doc. But our story isn't over. Soby freed Doc from a life of labor. Now he is free from a life of pain. And while I never rode Doc in this lifetime, I am sure that when we meet again we will run together through heaven's fields. We are bound by a bond of love. I WILL see you again dear friend! Until then, run free...
|Posted by SobyRanch on April 15, 2013 at 2:20 PM||comments (0)|
I did want to say to you that we appreciated the animals at the Immanuel Fontanelle Home on Friday 4/5/2013. Someone brought a baby bunny into my mom’s room. She loved the bunny that they have up there full time (oreo) so I think she enjoyed seeing the baby bunny. She passed away the next morning at 3:30 am. It was good to know that your animals were there for some of her last hours. Thanks
|Posted by SobyRanch on December 19, 2012 at 6:10 PM||comments (0)|
Last Sunday some of the Soby animals came to my church to help with our Children's Christmas Program. It was phenomenal! I was privileged to handle Marcus the cow. He didn't like the plastic tarp that was down for him to stand on so the audience got to see his rear end for part of the show. But all in all it was a wonderful opportunity and the animals blessed many families.
When we finished the program the kids got to spend some time outside with the animals. By this time Marcus was cold and tired and wanted to stay put in the trailer. It was cold outside. Luckily for me, Joy brought my pal BamBam along. He wasn't part of the show but he came in very handy. The kids loved him. And why shouldn't they?
BamBam is an unusual animal. Technically, he is a two year old sheep. But BamBam does not know this. He thinks he is a dog. Maybe that is why I am so drawn to him. I love dogs! BamBam follows his people around like a dog. He walks on leash and heels better than a lot of dogs I know. He plays like a dog. He gets brushed like a dog. He even comes when called and responds to his name. Sheep are not known for being very bright animals, but BamBam is pretty darn smart. Especially for a sheep.
There is just one problem; BamBam has an identity crisis. He is not a dog. He is a sheep. Many of us have the same problem as BamBam. We don't think we're dogs, but we don't really know who we are. Or whose we are. Galatians 2:20a has this to say. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." And 1Corinthians 7:23 says "you were bought for a price". So the bible is pretty clear. We were bought for a price (the death of Jesus Christ who died for our sins) and now we no longer live but Christ lives in us.
This means we are no longer ordinary mortals. We are Christ's redeemed workmanship. We have no excuse for having an identity crisis. He has given us identity in Him. We are sheep who have been changed into vessels worthy to carry the Holy Spirit. And we are changed by Him, through Him, and for Him. None of this is our own doing. BamBam will never be a dog, no matter how much he tries to be. But we can be different if we just let Him change us. Don't fall into an identity crisis. If you have accepted Christ and the redeeming, saving work He's done for you, if you have asked Him to be your Savior and Lord, He will give you a new identity in Him. It's time to end the confusion.
As for BamBam, he will always be my favorite sheep-dog. And I'd like to give him a shout out for keeping me warm last Sunday. BamBam, you are the best Sheep-puppy I've had the privilege to know!
|Posted by SobyRanch on November 30, 2012 at 10:05 PM||comments (0)|
Just today while I was driving out to Soby Ranch, I came across a hawk sitting upon a telephone wire while waiting at a traffic light. He was watching his surroundings very intently, looking for his lunch. Now I love birds. Outside of dogs, they are probably my favorite animals. I happen to have parrots of various species and love the birds at Soby. I shed quite a few tears when Wrangler the therapy rooster died this fall.
Well this hawk got me thinking. This hawk was very much like our enemy, the devil. I mean, like most predators, he was studying his surroundings, looking for the weak, injured, elderly, or alone to pick off for his lunch. There was a flock of birds flying nearby. They were some form of sparrow, most likely house sparrows. The hawk watched, looking for one that could be easily separated and caught. He wasn't lucky today, at least while I waited for that light.
As soon as I got to Soby I was greeted at the gate by my dear buddy Lou. For those of you that may not know, Lou is the resident Great Pyrenees that runs Soby. I love Lou and maybe even just a tad more today than usual. You see, Great Pyrenees were bred to be Shepherds. They know every member of their flock and do everything in their power to keep them safe. Lou knows each of his sheep...and goats, and horses, and chickens. You get my drift. He roams the Ranch greeting visitors and strangers and keeping guard of his charges.
I've seen Lou in action. While there I saw several birds of pray circling over the ranch. Lou left them be while they stayed high in the air but no sooner than they got too close for comfort than Lou sprang into action. He ran. He barked. He snapped at them with his teeth. They left. His charges, mostly chicks, and a few other birds, were safe. But he is a diligent Shepherd. And he loves his job. I've seen him at work numerous times and he is magnificent to watch. Someday he'll tire, then he'll retire and a new Pyrenees will take his place. But there is a Shepard who will never retire. That Shepard is Jesus the Good Shepard. In John 10:4-5 Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep".
We are closing in on the time of year when Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd. And the first people on this earth to see him (other than his earthly mom and dad) were shepherds. Kind of neat, huh? So my thought for you this week is this: are you Lou, or are you the Hawk? Do you seek to protect and defend the weak or prey on them? These weak could be defined as those cut off from the congregation, or those down on their luck. They could be the widow, or the kid whose dad took off. They could be the disabled girl who uses a wheelchair and lives with caregivers or the elderly man who misses his wife. And they could be those outside of the church. They actually need help the most. It is my prayer that you are more like Lou. But even more importantly, it is my prayer that you belong to the Good Shepherd Himself, that you hear His voice. He laid down His life for you! If you don't know Him, talk to John or Joy today. You'll be glad you did.
|Posted by SobyRanch on November 23, 2012 at 10:05 AM||comments (0)|
By Anne Lenihan Bremer
Tonight I sit reflecting on another year. You see, today I am another year older. The verdict is still out as to whether I am another year wiser. This is one of those years when Thanksgiving falls within a mere two days of my birthday. Yesterday I went shopping for the stuff for my family's Thanksgiving feast. Tomorrow I get the house cleaned and ready and then it will be here. My children will come spend the day with their father and me. But I have to pause. In all the hustle and bustle of the season, which really runs from Thursday till just after the close of 2012, do I stop and truly give thanks for the gifts I've been given?
I mean, I have a nice house. It's not fancy or very big, but it's almost mine. (The bank still technically owns it for seven more years). I have a vehicle that is economical and in good working order. I have plenty of food. I have electricity. You get the picture. I also have my health. It's not perfect but you can manage diabetes if you are diligent. I have a wonderful husband, great kids, a fantastic church family, an abundance of good friends, and the most loving dogs and birds a person could ever count among their family.
What does this have to do with Soby? I will tell you. Like my personal dogs and birds, most of the animals at the Ranch are rescues, or rehomed animals. Some have been rehomed because of illness on a prior owners part. Some have come from neglectful situations. Some come with baggage. Others do not. My Great Dane came from Soby. I have been on the receiving end of the gift of many a rescued pet. The one trait they have all shared is thankfulness. It is as if a part of them realize they are very lucky to have a new chance at love, that they get a reprieve from a worser fate. And they live grateful lives. It's not just because we offer treats. It's because we offer love. And love in spades.
And so this Thanksgiving, let us be thankful for those who love us. And no one loves us as much as God Himself. In the words of John 3:16, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life". This is something to be grateful for. As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving and head into Advent season, let us be mindful that all of us are rescues too. Let us follow the example of the Soby animals and live our lives thankful for the second chance we've been given. May you have an enjoyable, Happy Thanksgiving!
|Posted by SobyRanch on November 10, 2012 at 1:25 AM||comments (1)|
By Anne Lenihan Bremer
I can't believe it's been over a week already but this story goes back to Halloween
evening. I received a call from Joy at Soby Ranch telling me that she and a few of the
animals were going to be out in my neck of the woods for a petting zoo event. The
event was at a local church and was fantastic! And the animals were quite the hit.
Anyway, I have been very busy this past month and my visits to the ranch were effected
by my schedule. So I was really missing some Soby animal cuddling. They got me all
caught up that night!
As soon as I spotted the trailer and got out of the car I spotted my buddy Freddie.
For those of you that don't know, Freddie is a llama. Well, he recognized me. As soon
as he saw me coming, he raced to the edge of the pen, cried out to me, and proceeded
to give me a great, big llama kiss on the mouth! Needless to say I was in llama heaven.
Proceeding to the fence line, albeit a bit slower, was Gable. He didn't give me a kiss but
he did want his ears scratched which I was happy to do for him. Those two llamas have
come a long way since their ﬁrst petting zoo in the spring!
Earlier in the spring Soby Ranch was lucky to get three male llamas; Freddie, Gable,
and Charlie. Freddie and Gable were close to the same age; Charlie was several years
older. When they went out for those early petting zoos, Joy usually brought only one
llama. I remember those early petting zoos because no matter which llama came, he
spent the entire time crying. This past time there was no crying except for the happy
moan when Freddie spotted me.
Part of the lack of crying was that these boys have done a bunch of petting zoos now
and have gotten used to them. And they know they get rewarded with lots of treats. But
I think another part is that they were together. They had each others back. This is a
very important concept. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says "Two are better than one, because
they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the
other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie
down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one
may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly
The Soby llamas instinctively know the power of living in community. Together they
are stronger than as individuals. Together, they can face the world and all it dishes out.
A cord of three (Freddie, Gable, and Charlie) are not easily broken. So, this got me
thinking. Who are my cord of three? Do I live my life independent of others or
interdependent with others? There is real power and strength in community. I pray you
discover that for yourself too. And Freddie, I'll be ready for another llama kiss next time
I'm at the ranch!
|Posted by SobyRanch on September 27, 2012 at 8:45 AM||comments (1)|
I'm on the board of directors of a unique ministry in Ft. Calhoun, NE. Anyone who knows me knows how very blessed I am to have met John and Joy Soby and to be a part in their wonderful ministry at Soby Ranch as well as the privilege of counting them among my dear friends. Soby Ranch is a place where God's presence is felt, daily. And He uses a bunch of rescued farm animals, dogs, cats and people to do it. He taught me a very profound message just a few short weeks ago which I decided to share with you.
There are many animals at the ranch and I hope I get the chance to tell you all about each of them as time goes on but today I'd like to talk about just one. His name is Doc. If you've been to the ranch you know him. If not let me introduce him to you. Doc is an east coaster like me. He used to pull a carriage in Central Park, NY. I'm a Jersey girl. Doc is a Percheron horse, a big white draft horse. I had never dealt much with horses before Soby so I must admit I was a bit scared of them. I felt much more at ease with the dogs and chickens. But Doc had a way about him that pulled me in. Who would have thought that this girl's horse fantasy would be fulfilled by the biggest horse on the ranch?
It was love at first sight! When Doc reached down and wrapped his giant size head around my neck...well let's just say I was hooked. So now it has become my thing to go out every week and bring Doc treats. (Just so you don't think I'm mean, I do bring treats for everyone. It's just that I specifically go to feed Doc. I let Joy give the other animals treats). Anyway, Doc has gotten to the point that he knows the sound of my voice. As soon as I get out of the car and yell "hello" to Joy I can hear his trademark foot stomp and huff of air and I know he is waiting for me in the barn, by the door, awaiting his apples. He gets so excited he moves everyone out of his way so he has total and complete access to me for himself.
So a few weeks ago I go out to the barn and Doc greats me waiting for his apples and it hits me: this is how I should be when I hear the voice of my Lord! He desires to spend time with me and brings me all sorts of good things to eat. Do I rush to the sound of His voice? Do I drop everything to be in His presence? Do I push my way to the front of the line expecting His love and returning that love to Him? I have to admit that more often than I'd like the answer is "no". So now what? I think I'll start taking a lesson from Doc. When my beloved calls my name, I'll be waiting. Thanks God...and thanks Doc.
|Posted by SobyRanch on April 13, 2012 at 12:55 AM||comments (0)|
Doc has blessed us with his unconditional love as he has made his journey from New York working for 15 of his 17 years in the fields and the streets pulling carriages. He will now only be putting smiles on faces.
|Posted by SobyRanch on February 21, 2012 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
On Valentines day we took animals and delivered gift to special people in the community the proceeds went to help children of abuse and trauma, watch the video of the lives we touched that day.
|Posted by SobyRanch on January 25, 2012 at 9:50 AM||comments (0)|
Please see the video the Soby Ranch animal did telling thier Story of Christmas.