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  • Dave Smith, Ranch Manager

"We will get through this!"

So...Monday, August 10th started out just like any other day...doing chores, feeding the horses and feeding our barn cat, Jules. The day was full with us continuing to finish up our updates to the kitchen and dining room. We also had a volunteer coming in to help in doing a deep cleaning of the main lodge. We were scheduled to have a ribbon cutting ceremony the next day with the Marshalltown Chamber of Commerce.

Earlier in the morning we started getting reports of a fast moving storm sweeping across  Iowa. We kept an eye on the radar and then the weather radio started going off with alerts. The rain started first and then suddenly without warning, the wind picked up. The shingles on the barn started to peel up and the pump house roof started to rise up off the building.

By this time, the rain was coming down so hard we could barely see the out-buildings from the main lodge. As we were standing in the doorway doing a visual check of the horses before we headed to the basement, the storm door was flung open by the wind. At this point we had no choice but to head to the safety of the basement. We stayed there until we could hear the wind subside and then slowly came back upstairs to see what was going on outside. 

At this point it was still raining and blowing but we were able to see some of the damage to the buildings from the safety of the lodge. Part of the stall barn roof was gone, and our volunteer's car had a tree wrapped around it. It was still raining too hard to go outside and assess the horses and survey the rest of the damage to the property.

When it was finally safe to venture outside, and I was doing my initial check of the horses, a truck and horse trailer pulled into our driveway.  I could see there was a horse in the trailer because he had his head sticking out the back door. Those of you who know how to haul a horse, this is not how you usually haul a horse! I ran down to meet the truck. The driver informed me the horse had flipped around in the trailer trying to get out while they were driving through the storm. We unloaded the horse and put him in a stall. He had a few small cuts on his legs and we treated them immediately. 

All this time it is still raining but I was able to survey a little more of the damage around the Ranch. The stall barn roof is now in the middle pasture, it flew for about 200 yards. The horses in the pasture were all now standing around that roofing debris. At this point my heart really started to race, concerned they could injure themselves on the debris. I grabbed my rain coat once again and ran to check on the horses once more. They wouldn't let me get too close at this point, but I didn't see any blood or obvious injuries, so I was relieved.

After the horses calmed down and I was able to check them over more thoroughly, there was not one scratch on any of them. Whew! What a relief to find all of our horses with no injuries, just some rattled nerves. God was really looking out for them and us! Without those horses, the work we do here at the Ranch is impossible.

My next step was to call all our stall and pasture boarders who entrust their horses to our care to let them know their horses were fine. To add more challenges to the physical damage to the property, several trees down, branches every where, etc...we were without power...this means there was no way to power the well to get water to the horses.

Once the weather started to clear, our volunteers started to show up and help with the initial clean up. What a blessing! Our main focus was to make sure the horses were safe and could access water. We ended up cutting plastic barrels in half to create make-shift water barrels. Just by luck we do have rural water to part of the residence, so with a couple of hoses we could at least get water to the horses. The Ranch was without power for four days and the weather was very warm and I was filling the water buckets every hour. What a task! I guess, you take your self waterer for granted until it does not work!

The damage to the Ranch was significant, including the roof to the main lodge, the roof to the south side of the stall barn and the roofs to the lean-to's. In addition, the riding arena is now leaning to the east and we lost four pine trees, and part of a fence. So what all this means is it is not business as usual at the Ranch.

Right now we cannot use our indoor arena and are instead relying on our outdoor arena. This creates a large scheduling challenge and has cut what services we can usually provide in half. The next challenge will begin once the weather starts changing and it is cold outside. We cannot provide riding lessons or equine therapy in an outdoor arena when the temperature falls. While, the storm has impacted our services and ability to hold events, we thank God that no one or no animals were hurt. We are also thankful for each and every one of our volunteers who stepped up and assisted us in our clean up.

Please stay posted to hear more about progress of the repairs to the Ranch!

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