Happy Holidays to the friends of Hercules’ Haven. May your celebrations of light, renewal, fresh-starts and family fill the darkest days of winter with joy and hope. Thank you! Thank you all for helping Hercules’ Haven weather 2020. We started the year full of optimism. We had a full calendar. We had barns full of rescue animals. We had a full volunteer team. And then the world changed.
Covid 19 — Quarantine and trying to figure out what “New Normal” means
The prohibition on group gatherings immediately cancelled our soup suppers, programming, and fundraising events. By the time we could resume limited events, the Haven had lost thousands in projected revenue. Open Barn Days were restricted by our social distancing plan, and most group tours were cancelled. We were extremely excited when volunteers could return and help with the daily tasks.
Devastating Iowa Derecho — Hurricane of the Plains
Shortly after noon on August 10th, a massive derecho storm tore across Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. Cedar Rapids and Springville were pummeled by winds up to 140 mph. Our volunteers secured the animals before the storm, but the strength of the winds caused devastating damage. When the barn doors blew off, Danny ran into the maelstrom. Goats, horses, and sheep were safe in the barn, the chicken coop held, and mini pigs were brave as their metal roof peeled off. Unfortunately, the winds snapped off fence posts in the Big Pig Yard, and our beloved, Babe, was gone. As volunteers arrived, we organized search parties and repair crews.
An army of volunteers began immediate repairs and clean up. Downed trees littered the property, blocking roads and crushing fencing. The goat’s corn crib tumbled into the Mini-Horse Yard after bouncing into the barn. Doors were torn off in the Quarantine Garage, Horse Barn and Big Pig Barn. We found most pieces of the large barn door 1/4 mile east. The Quarantine Garage is a total loss, the house has siding and window damage and glass from the house and Pig Barn litter the property. The green house disappeared except for a few small scraps. Our favorite shade trees laid in splinters.
Joyful shouts echoed through the Haven when Babe sauntered to the main gate at dinner time. Fences have temporary repairs, and we continue to work with insurance agents. We are lucky that power was restored after 14 hours. The Haven team delivered meals to friends in the community and welcomed many volunteers to help with cleanup. We are grateful to offer and receive so much help. Paying the deductibles and extra expenses is a daunting blow to the Haven.
Life on the farm
Life on the farm continues regardless of storms and pandemics. We lost our beloved mini-horse, Finnegan, due to his constricted esophagus. Kitten, Willy, broke our hearts when he died of feline leukemia. Senior horse, Ginger, suffered severe lacerations after a crop duster frightened her, and she bolted through a fence. She battled an infection and had a three day stay at the equine clinic. Baby pig Willow arrived with a broken femur but is thriving. She may need orthopedic surgery this spring, and has found a life partner in new pig, Elton. The rescued house pigs continue their diets. Goats and sheep sorely miss their legions of fans who once eagerly gathered for nibbles. The chickens liberated from a factory farm have made life-long friends with our flock. We finished off 2020 with a December adoptee – Sawyer is a 4-month-old potbelly pig who loves snuggles on the couch. Amid all the stress, we welcomed Shelby, a Great Pyrenees rescue puppy and two kittens, Tempeh and LB. Donations helped us fence a 1.4-acre pig yard and purchase a tractor! The sun still rises in the morning and sets in the evening, but the sky seems much larger without all the trees and buildings.
It takes a global village to run the Haven. We never felt alone, even during the months of physical isolation. Your words of encouragement kept us going. Your donations allowed us to care for abused, neglected and unwanted farmed animals. We mourn for the ones we lost, celebrate the vitality of our residents, and grieve for the souls still treated as a commodity. We can’t help them all, but if we work together, we can change the world.
How can you help?
We’ll take all the encouragement and positive thoughts we can get. Like and share our stories on social media. Tell your friends about the Haven. When it is safe, attend a Haven event in Central Iowa or visit in person. And as always, donations support everything we do. You can donate with these links…