For the past six years, I’ve called April my Longmeadow Rescue Ranch season. Returning to Longmeadow is like going home. I switch on a country station and head for the 165-acre rescue and rehabilitation facility for farm animals that’s home to Twister, the star of my book “Twist of Fate, the Miracle Colt and His Friends.”
The ranch is located just west and south of Union.
I’ll be at Longmeadow this Saturday when the ranch kicks off a new event it hopes to make an annual happening. The ranch’s Spring Fling will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will include lots of activities unfolding on an emerald-green treasure of a spot that owns a huge place in my heart.
How well I recall my first trip to the ranch to meet Twister back in 2007 when he was just a fuzzy-tailed colt nuzzling his mother, Mama, one of the animals rescued from the horrific Interstate 44 tractor-trailer accident involving 42 horses en route to a meat-packing plant in Illinois.
Though the accident should never have occurred, it couldn’t have happened at a better place — close enough to Longmeadow for the 26 animals that lived to receive the expert help they needed, and in an area blessed with a number of skilled large-animal veterinarians and compassionate volunteers like the ones who work with MERS, the Missouri Emergency Response Services.
The wreck happened in September and seven months later Mama gave birth to Twist of Fate, a miracle colt who lived despite the trauma his expectant mother weathered. Turning 6 this week, Twister has grown used to flashing cameras and attention.
He’s a trickster and a pet, a gorgeous, good-natured horse that relishes being around people. He’ll be in his stall for the Spring Fling, nose extended to gather all the pats he’s sure to receive, happily posing for yet another photo.
The day will prove to be a reunion of sorts for Twister and another character from my book he hasn’t seen in a while. Willie is coming back to Longmeadow for the day.
He was adopted and now lives in Gerald, another place close to my heart. I can hardly wait to see Willie again — he was the last horse rescued from the tractor-trailer accident and was believed to be dead, his eyes shut as he lay weighed down by two horses that had already died. Wonder of wonders, Willy survived and got his name from his will to live.
Willie’s owner Kylee will put the little horse through his paces in the arena, demonstrating his jumping skills. Other riding demonstrations will be presented by Sarah Sanders, who drives over from Illinois and gives riding lessons at Longmeadow — something I’d like to do that would pair perfectly with that yoga class I’m interested in. What a perfect way to work out any kinks that might result from being in the saddle.
Of course, the ranch’s Barn Buddies will be on hand, and kids can get hands-on with them when the Longmeadow folks walk them about in the barnyard, miniature horses and donkeys, Miss Molly, a new llama, and other crowd pleasers.
People also can tour the ranch, go on a hayride and learn more about the marvelous second chances the fortunate animals receive at Longmeadow. There’s a new barn there too, on the site of what I called the old red barn on the hill, now home to some pigs in need of adoptive homes.
At the Spring Fling, you won’t go hungry. There will be kettle corn, hot dogs, fried fish and pulled pork sandwiches, to name just a few treats, and plenty of picnic tables to sit and enjoy your food while visiting with friends and family. A number of vendors will display their wares, and giveaways are planned too.
You can even take a break and hear a story. I’ll be sitting outside Twister’s stall reading my book — that’s especially rewarding because the main character will be right behind me.
You might recognize another familiar face, or voice in this case. Radio personality Jackie McCoy will be broadcasting from the Spring Fling — she’s with KEZK-FM, and a Humane Society adoptive parent.
Tickets to the Spring Fling are $5 for adults. Children 12 and under can attend at no charge. Advance tickets can be purchased online at longmeadowrescueranch.org. All proceeds from the event benefit the animals at Longmeadow.
Hope to see you there!