We get to the barn when it is still dark. Sometimes as early as 4am. We park our cars, put on our overalls, and pull up our boots. The air is cold, and we see each breath we take.
We put on our gloves. We load a wagon with hay and distribute it around the property – front paddocks, back paddocks, front barn, and back barn. We start graining – each horse with their own requirements and supplements. We bring horses in to eat, and then turn horses out when they are finished. Each horse with their herd in their assigned paddock.
We drag a long, heavy hose to each water trough and water bucket. Our hands are dirty and legs are tired. But the horses are running and playing and happy. Their bellies are full.
We wipe the sweat from our brows and keep going.
Thirty-five stalls need to be mucked. Every single day. We grab our muck rakes and wheel barrows and head to the far end of the barn, inching our way back to the front after each stall is cleaned and bedded. The air that once smelled of manure slowly begins to fill with the smell of fresh wood shavings. Hours pass and we continue to muck.
Arms tired, legs tired, and boots covered in dirt and manure, we keep going.
By noon, the horses are ready for lunch. One flake of hay for each horse. And waters need to be checked and topped off. Out comes the hose again, dragging around the property.
We mentally check off our list as we go, addressing any specific animal needs and treatment that are required for that day – check Cookie’s leg swelling, make sure Max is walking okay today, don’t forget to put on Piper’s winter blanket – the list goes on and on.
We are a rescue. Our animals have ailments, sometimes physical, sometimes psychological, most of the time both. We do what we can to give them a good life, without fear of being harmed or mistreated. We keep going.
It is early afternoon and we have just unloaded 100 bales of hay from the hay rack. We brush off the little bits of hay that stick to our clothes and hair. We take off our boots and get in our cars. We check our phones to see fifteen unread messages, eight missed phone calls, and twenty-seven text messages. We turn on the heat and head home.
Some of us head back to the barn in a few hours to hay, grain, water, turn in, and turn out for the evening. It is dark again as the sun sets and we feed dinner – a few more hours of work. But the horses are happy and their bellies are full.
We close up the barn, lock up the gates, and say goodnight to the animals. We will be back again in the morning to do it all again.
We are tired. Our joints are sore. Our minds are constantly running – thinking of the endless to do list and figuring out how we will keep going. But we do it. Everyday. We keep going.
Some people ask why we do it. We don’t get paid. There is no glamour or prestige associated with rescuing these animals. We receive unkind messages on social media. We are so very, very tired.
But when asked why we do what we do, we pick up our heads high, and with dirt on our face and hay in our hair, we say we do it for Warrior.
And Miss Belle.
And our sweet, sweet Venn.
And all of our rescues.
We do it for the ones we’ve saved, but most importantly, we do it for the ones we couldn’t save. The horses that were trucked to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. The horses that died waiting in a kill pen. The horses that were abused, tortured, tormented, never knowing the good that exists in humanity. We do it for them.
And we will keep doing it for them.
We will keep rescuing. We will keep waking up early and going to bed late to feed animals and muck stalls. We will keep working, even when our boot gets stuck in the mud or we trip and fall and our pants are soaked. We will keep rescuing, even when people doubt us.
Because we believe, that even if we save one animal, this was all worth it.
Because if we don’t do it, who will?
We will do it.
We will keep going.
We are M&M Acres.