Horse blankets were on the Christmas list for HartSong Ranch this year but when Santa arrived at the ranch in a truck and trailer on Christmas Eve, he brought a whole lot more.
Last Christmas Tamara Diederichs, a Pilot Hill ranch owner, donated $2,000 to a dog rescue facility in Sacramento but couldn’t find any feed stores in the area to deliver the gift.
She talked to Carolynne Knisley and Jody Gray, owners of Cool Feed Supply, who not only agreed to deliver the products to Sacramento free of charge, but also called the vendors of the store and asked them to help out with discounts to increase Diederichs’ donation.
This year, Diederichs decided to up her game and donate $10,000 to be shared among three animal rescue groups: the Dog Spot in Vacaville, Chows Plus in Grass Valley and HartSong Ranch, an animal sanctuary in Greenwood.
Knisley decided to put Operation Santa Paws into effect once again, adding her own donation and talking Cool Feed vendors into adding deep discounts to extend Diederichs’ donation.
Diederichs, Knisley and Gray also partnered in a bit of wish list subterfuge.
“I looked at the HartSong Ranch wish list from Cool’s Angel Tree and donated some horse blankets,” said Diederichs. “Jim Hart came to the feed store and picked them up.”
That’s all the Harts thought Santa had brought their animals and with the extreme cold that followed, they were very pleased.
Christmas Eve surprise
Christmas Eve afternoon, the Harts were expecting the horse blanket donor along with Knisley, a HartSong board of director member and Gray, to visit the ranch so Diederichs could meet the owners and the animals they care for.
A pick-up bearing Knisley, Diederichs, some friends and four surprise baskets of horse grooming equipment arrived at the ranch.
A few minutes later, the other surprise arrived — the Cool Feed Supply truck with a flat-bed trailer stacked with horse bedding, animal food, animal crates, rabbit supplies, dog supplies, chicken feed, mucking carts and masses of other supplies.
A heartfelt story
HartSong Ranch began as an animal sanctuary when Jim and Kathy Hart decided they needed two trail horses to get around on their 30 acres. They went to a rescue shelter to look at trail horses needing a home. Once there, they saw three blind horses who had been confined to a small pen for many months.
“We went home and kept thinking about those horses, blind and confined to that small space and we decided to go back and get them,” said Jim. Two of the three horses have since passed on, but others, some also blind, have come to HartSong — two being rescued from Laredo, Mexico. All the animals live safely and healthily on HartSong’s acres, lovingly cared for by the Harts and their volunteers.
Recently, the ranch began a dog adoption program, rescuing dogs from high kill shelters, fostering them and then finding homes for them.
Currently, the ranch, a non-profit, shelters and cares for about 50 animals including horses, a mule, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits, chickens and dogs. Many of the animals were medically fragile when they were rescued — all were unwanted.
“Every life matters,” said Kathy.
Feed for the animals runs about $2,000 a month.
“All this,” Jim said, indicating the stacks of animal supplies,” is amazing. I think there’s enough food for at least two months.”
The Christmas gifts met with immediate approval from Gorby, an enormous black steer, who trotted officiously up to the flat-bed and began nosing about in the stacks of dog treats, bedding and rabbit supplies.
Other curious cows, after checking out the visitors, wandered over to a picnic table and tried to insert gargantuan noses into small cups of hot chocolate.
Horses, no longer emaciated and ill, galloped up to fences to say hello.
Nigel, the pygmy goat, greeted visitors from behind the fence.
“It’s a struggle for rescue facilities to pay for everything,” said Diederichs. “I’m really glad that we’re able to help.”