The scooters are parked in their places, not cast willy-nilly for us to fall over, and the mad search for one pink tennis shoe (and under-our-breath cuss words over car seats) has ceased.
After five days at Camp Mee Mee and PaPa, our granddaughters — Avery, age 7, and Parker, 3, going on 13 — are back home in St. Louis. It was a wild ride, but more fun than we ever expected showing these city mice the best the country has to offer.
We visited Shaw Nature Reserve, had breakfast at Cowan’s, practiced biking on the church parking lot, swung by Orscheln to see the chicks, went swimming, played golf and hit balls at the range, saw a movie, ate ice cream and swam despite the cool temps. But the highlight for Avery and Parker was a trip to Longmeadow Rescue Ranch in Union to meet a filly named Junie Moon.
The equine newbie’s namesake is the Junie Moon Café — a favorite restaurant with the horsey Longmeadow set. And, yes, they were hoping for a yummy delivery, but for now they’re happy to settle for donations being taken at the Union eatery, funds being collected to offset the cost of caring and feeding the adorable filly.
It’s an idea the restaurant’s owner, Steve Hipes, came up with after he heard through the pony-vine that the staff at Longmeadow had named a filly after his place of business. As luck would have it, Steve is a lifelong horse lover, but like so many people he’d never visited Longmeadow before. And like everyone else, when he did, he was impressed with the cleanliness and beauty of the surroundings and the marvelous work being done there for abused and unwanted animals — horses, cows, chickens, ducks, pigs, mules and an occasional llama or two.
Baby Junie Moon is 8 weeks old, and to greenhorns like me, she’s simply a pinto. Officially, she’s a “framed overo pinto,” ranch supervisor Jessica Lindley said, a term that designates her “paint pattern.”
Junie’s mother, Thunder, was in a group of 10 starving, water-deprived equines rescued last fall that included some mules too. At the time, no one knew that Thunder was pregnant. That discovery was made a bit later because all female animals at the ranch are checked for pregnancy.
Junie Moon’s daddy remains a mystery. There were multiple stallions in the group and more than one pinto. The ranch staff set to fattening Thunder up, carefully though, starting her out slow, Jessica added, because too much food too fast can cause problems.
It’s amazing to see how relaxed Thunder is with her new charge. The mare is pretty “laid back,” Jessica said. She keeps an eye on her independent baby, a filly so friendly she walked right up to Avery and Parker, nuzzling their palms and allowing them to stroke her soft coat through the fence. That wasn’t close enough for the girls. If they’d had wire cutters they would have climbed into the enclosure with her.
Junie Moon is already a big girl, with legs that go on forever. She has a completely sweet disposition, the result of being raised by so many doting human mothers at Longmeadow. From day one she’s been handled and treated with TLC.
Yes, Jessica said, Junie Moon is one lucky filly. If she hadn’t been rescued there’s a good chance Thunder wouldn’t have carried her foal to term, and if she had, it’s doubtful Junie Moon would have lived — the conditions were that horrible, the animals “dangerously thin.”
There’s little chance of that happening now. Like customers at Junie Moon’s Café, the filly isn’t leaving the table hungry. She’s getting three squares from her well-fed mama and is being lavished with love by the ranch volunteers and staff.
Come the end of the summer, after Junie Moon’s weaned, the precious pinto with the two brown circles around her eyes and the marking of a saddle on her back, will be up for adoption — off to happy home, yet another miracle story that got its start at Longmeadow Rescue Ranch.