Perhaps the best article ever written and the one that brought me a Presidential Leadership Award was this one by Dan England. http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/local/home-on-the-plains/
The place was completely off the grid, windows broken out, there had been a fire in it at some point and walls were black. No heat existed, the windmill was broken and that was the only water source and the few solar panels that were there were haphazardly strewn and hanging, dead batteries to boot. I thought to myself..I can totally make this work 😉
For me, saving animals was a calling that I had been taught to ignore throughout my entire childhood and young adult life. When I finally discovered who I was and the path that I was called to take, it rocked so many boats. Life turned inside out and upside down for me. I was in the middle of an ugly and very nasty divorce and facing losing my two wonderful boys who at the time were only one and four years old.
We had just lost everything in a bankruptcy, I had no vehicle and was getting by with a crummy work van and then later a truck I had managed to get donated by the skin of my teeth. It was a FORD it had Ford problems..constantly.
I had already several horses and dogs that were in rescue with me and had to find a place to go all the while fighting through a vicious court battle for my children. Today looking back I have no idea how I managed to pull off what I did. But I managed. I bartered and traded for pasture for my horses, I managed to find an incredibly generous farmer who rented his place to me and worked with me on payments, though his wife did not want to rent to me. He believed in me and gave me a chance.
There was no funding coming in yet other than the dog adoption fees and a little trickle of donations here and there. I had to become very creative as to how to get hay and feed for the animals and started calling horse boarding facilities asking for their bottom bales as they don’t normally feed those. I managed to drag in quite a bit in donations that way. I wasn’t able to buy food for myself or the kids. I had no idea about food stamps back then, so we scraped by with generous help from individuals who brought over canned food and trips to the food bank.
I rented rooms in this house out to individuals to help pay the rent and every cent that came in went into the animals and the landlord. Eventually though, they didn’t want us there anymore and so began the struggle to find a new location.
We really didn’t have much if any money and with no credit were not going to be able to rent a traditional location, besides who would want to rent to an animal rescue and risk having so many animals on their property? To say I was stressed and worried would be an understatement.
Luckily I cam across a man who had some property near Nunn. It wasn’t very livable and had been abandoned for many years. I was not afraid..I went out to take a look at it. The reality that stood before me was a historic home built very early 1900’s with hand molded cement blocks. I could even see the hand prints in the block from the people who had built it. The place was completely off the grid, windows broken out, there had been a fire in it at some point and walls were black. No heat existed, the windmill was broken and that was the only water source and the few solar panels that were there were haphazardly strewn and hanging, dead batteries to boot. I thought to myself..I can totally make this work 😉
So we moved Denkai. We put up fencing, cleaned out ten foot walls of tumbleweeds from pens, cleaned out decades worth of garbage from the barn, replaced broken windows, tried to get the wood stove working, cleaned walls, painted, fixed the solar the best we could, fixed the windmill and got the water system working again, ran pipe in the house so that we could have water inside as all pipes had at some point in time frozen and were never replaced.
The winters were harsh in this location. I had to haul water from town for the horses when it got really bad as the water would freeze in the tanks as it pumped from the windmill and we would have no water in the house or for the animals. I broke ice every day four to five times a day for the animals and lived on canned food. There was no heat, I was able to get a five gallon propane bottle and have it filled in town. The propane company would not fill the tank on site because of the piping to it. They said it was outdated and by then we were out of money for that repair. There was just one small heat register in the house downstairs and it didn’t heat much, you had to be standing in front of it. The wood stove was piped in poorly and would just smoke out the house so was not useable.
I remember bundling my kids up in our winter gear at night and we would all curl up under the covers and go to bed. People were so used to this place having been abandoned I slept with a twelve gauge next to me. Trucks would roll in with headlights blaring and stop at the house. I can only assume it used to be a drug or party house because it was not lived in. Either way it was scary.
Rattlesnakes were thick at this location as well. I couldn’t step outside during the summer without seeing at least three in a day. In the fall when the eggs hatched, babies were everywhere and the place was crawling with them. I will save those stories for another blog post here though.
It was living in this location that I became very ill with pneumonia. It started the first winter I lived there and continued for many years every winter after that. I remember that my reality check and decision to get out of this location came when my seventy year old Grandmother came to visit. This woman who had made it through many rough times as a child and adult said to me, “Floss, none of us could have survived this place.” I’ll never forget her words. It was then and there I decided to start looking for a better location.
I found it in Carr for a little while, that location gave us just enough time to raise a capital campaign for what would be Denkai’s very own home near Grover, CO. I will get into those stories in another blog as well.
Years later I went back to visit this off the grid property, it had been purchased by a uranium mining company and it sat empty ever since I had moved out. As I drove by it I shuddered remembering how hard that part of my life was and how I was grateful to not be there anymore. I have never gone back.