Archive for September, 2014

May 28th 2013–The Exodus…

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Our journey started in April 2013. I had been packing for the last month and had the household things boxed and ready. Finally, I was going home…..back to Ontario, Canada.

On the first leg of the trip I would take all the barn/horse supplies, books and heavy things that were in the storage unit. My friend Shirley had flown down to drive up with me since I was taking the truck and horse trailer. The last few days were of course very stressful but as we left Florida behind, my thoughts turned to my promised land.

Bridge to Canada....1st load with the horse trailer!

Bridge to Canada….1st load with the horse trailer!

I have been in Florida since 1991. I’ve worked non-stop running a boarding, breeding, racing and training stable on 125 acres for over 15 years, mostly alone. Then I had spent the last 5 years working with at-risk youth offering Equine Assisted Learning and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. But with several health problems and a complete intolerance for the summer heat, I knew it was time to go home. My mother had a stroke three years ago and is in a wheelchair while my father struggles to look after her. I felt an urgency in my spirit for the past few years to get back to Ontario. With the real estate market, however, it’s been tough to find a buyer for the Florida farm. All who have visited Story Book Meadows in Ocala, Florida had appreciated the fabulous facility and grounds that were immaculate and inspired. With the pond and pastures, the many granddaddy oak trees and horses, there was a beauty and peace over the property that every visitor felt.

When we crossed over the border to Ontario, it was cold and windy but there was such a sense of familiarity, a sense of coming home even though so much of the landscape had changed over the past twenty years. I had not been able to come home very often even for visits because of the responsibilities of the large number of horses on the Florida farm. The border crossing was uneventful and I received my stamped paperwork indicating I was now a returning resident of Canada. I was leaving behind my US landed immigrant status. After unloading the trailer a few days later, I immediately returned to Florida for the 2nd load.

The Horses heading north from Ocala with Perry Horse Transport

The Horses leaving the Ocala farm with Perry Horse Transport

Taking a few weeks to finish packing the house and grounds and preparing the horses for the long trip, towards the end of May we were ready for our adventure. I’d been so anxious to leave for so long I couldn’t believe it was finally happening. My health was better, and I knew everything would be great once I got out of the heat. We loaded the horses on the large Perry Transport van with lots of equipment and waved them off. Three days later we had finished loading the horse trailer, the flatbed trailer (with corral panels and lawnmower), all five dogs and away we went. I had such mixed feelings as I drove down the driveway for the last time. Florida had been good to me but also there had been much pain…

Gary and some of the dogs on the way

Gary and some of the dogs on the way

I’d been through a divorce; I’d lost my dream of the thoroughbred farm because of several injuries and adrenal collapse from the stress and overwork. I’d had to close down my non-profit when I didn’t have enough help and I was leaving behind six horses and seven dogs buried on the property who had been my very best friends. There were old friends and new acquaintances I was leaving behind and I would miss them tremendously. But I knew God was calling me back to my homeland. He had heard my cries and answered them giving us this opportunity to return to the country of my youth. It was a tiring trip but I thought “Finally, I’m going home!”

Gary's loaded trailer arrived in Loretto

Gary’s loaded trailer arrived in Loretto

The final trip up was uneventful and tiring and we had a few chuckles with the five Jack Russell’s on the journey. It was their first time on a long road trip and staying in hotels. We crossed into Canada through Detroit on May 28th and were greeted by friendly and efficient Border Agency Officers. I felt the Lord’s favor on each part of the trip and was very thankful for the easy trip. I was anxious to get to our new home since the horses were already there. The previous owner had agreed to stay a week at the farm to look after them until we arrived. I was so thankful for her friendship and help.

The final load arrived in mid-July...finally our backhoe, tractor, Kubota 4 x 4 and we were farmers again!

The final load arrived in mid-July…finally our backhoe, tractor, Kubota 4 x 4 and bushhog…now we were farmers again!

As Gary & I pulled into the drive and let the dogs into their new yard, we were so excited! The horses greeted us with whinnies once they heard our familiar voices. I could see they were stressed and nervous in their new pastures. Gone were the wide open fields of grass in Florida…they had arrived to small paddocks that were overgrazed and overgrown with weeds. Part of the farm was three board fencing and part was four strand electric hotwire, which they weren’t used to.

We unloaded what we would need into the empty house for the first night and settled down. In the morning we had a closer look around. I noticed much more than I had when I viewed the property. All of a sudden it didn’t look as “ready” to use as I’d thought. I looked at all the work that needed to be done and the difference from the picture perfect farm I had left behind….and the doubts started!

When we arrived and before changing the fencing.

When we arrived and before changing the fencing.

The next day the weather dropped to 36 degrees. We had to find the horses blankets and put them on. Poor Sasha was shivering. They had left 95 degree weather to come to the Canadian North! What a shock to their systems. But they were frisky and excited and running around much more than they did in that heat. More doubts plagued our minds. And the murmuring started. We were sure we had made a mistake. It was so much easier in Florida!

As we were running around town the next day, considering packing the dogs and horses back up and going back to Florida, we passed the Alliston Pentacostal Church about five minutes from our home. We looked at each other and knew that was where we needed to go. We now had so many doubts about God’s plan in leading us here that I was wondering if we’d missed His voice somehow. It was Saturday afternoon so we planned on going to church the next morning.

We spent most of Saturday night grumbling and complaining about the cold weather in May. Apparently the locals were grumbling too because it was unseasonably cold. We were putting the horses into the stalls during the night until they were more used to the facility and turning them out with blankets in the morning. I tried to assure Gary that it would only last a couple of days. We only had our summer clothes unpacked at that point so we layered to find warmth.

On Sunday morning we arrived at church to be greeted by many warm and friendly people. Of course no one could understand why we would leave Florida to come back here! I had to keep reminding myself I couldn’t take the heat anymore. As we settled into the service we found ourselves feeling very much at home. The worship was fabulous, and of course the message was just on time… the Pastor spoke about how God had you just where you’re supposed to be; that even though things seem a certain way, there is really something deeper going on…..something big that God has planned which is why He has us just where He wants us. By the end of the service, Gary and I looked at each other and knew that God had given us confirmation to silence our fears and doubt. As we spoke to people in the congregation I met several who were interested in what I did with the horses and in partnering with me. Where I had struggled in Florida to get a program going in my own strength, here God was just handing me the plans. I was so excited!

Their new tranquil!

Their new pastures…how tranquil!

I realized we had acted so much like the Israelites in the Old Testament. When God heard their cries to deliver them from the brutal hands of the Egyptians and sent Moses to help them escape, they repaid God with grumbling and complaining and the constant demand to return to Egypt where life was “easier”. I knew we were behaving like them. God showed the Israelites miracle after miracle yet they still didn’t ‘trust’ Him. The great thing about having The Holy Bible to learn from is that we don’t have to make the same mistakes. The move had been hard. Packing up an entire 50 acre farm (which took about 4 four months) including horses, household furnishings, stable equipment, tractors, mowers, tools, backhoe, tack and dogs isn’t an easy task at the best of times but moving all the way from Florida over the border to Canada was exhausting. But I didn’t want to wander for forty years in the wilderness missing my promised land, so I thanked God that he confirmed His purpose in bringing us home and we settled into making this new ranch a place to do His work.

property 006

As the weeks passed and new fencing started going up, the horses became more at ease here. We tore down the wire fencing, opened up the paddocks and made larger pastures and put up the same fencing we had in Ocala. They started to feel more secure and at home as they had room to run again and grass to eat! The weather was fabulous all summer with very few hot Florida days. Justice and Noah, the two oldest, were so much better with the cooler summer. We’ve been so blessed with God’s favor and the friendliness of the community. I’d forgotten how wonderful the Canadian people are. It really feels like home now!

Now we look forward to the exciting things God has in store for us here in our Promised Land as He brings those in need of healing down our driveway and into His arms through His angels in horse hair. As we open our farm and our hearts to our community we hope they will find the comfort we did as His creatures greet them and the peace of His presence encompasses them.

Praise and Glory be to God our Heavenly Father!