Ever since I was a little girl who bottle-fed an abandoned kitten that I found, I've always been concerned with animal welfare. I've had cats and dogs from the Humane Society, and I've donated to animal rights charities. But I wanted to have a rescue ranch of my own. In April of 2016, I got to live that dream. Unfortunately, it was heartbreakingly short-lived and here's why:
Michael and I scanned craigslist daily for animals being sold to slaughter. We paid full price to rescue sheep, goats, and cows. We also paid for and adopted animals who had been neglected, or whose owners couldn't care for them. Very soon, our ranch was overflowing with so many animals that we had to hire two full-time ranch hands to help. We also had regular visits from a mobile vet, and taking animals to a vet clinic when xrays or other treatments were needed.
Every week, a trailer stacked with hay bales and bags of specialty feed for each type of animal would arrive at our barn. We also bought supplements to keep them healthy, such as copper for the goats.
The expenses were enormous! If you've ever had to pay for pet food, imagine multiplying that expense by 300 animals. The costs began exceeding my income, especially when my income dropped after my conversion, and I chose to not receive royalties on some of my products. So I decided to sell some of my stage clothing and jewelry on ebay as a fund-raiser. That did raise some money, but I had to hire an assistant to help me with processing, packaging, and mailing the items. Michael said that we spent more money on the auction than we raised.
People started asking me how they could donate to the ranch, so we put up a donate button on the site. People were very kind to try to support our animals' expenses with their donations and purchases of my classes and products. But in the end with the high Hawaii state taxes and the high cost of Hawaii food, fuel, etc., it became evident that the ranch wouldn't be able to sustain itself much longer. Our expenses exceeded our income.
Fortunately, since I'd lived in Hawaii for 11 years, I was able to find excellent long-term homes for the animals! We feel good that we were able to save so many animals from slaughter. Our "rookie mistake" was that we should have rehomed the animals as soon as we rescued them. We made a mistake by keeping the rescued animals at the ranch, instead of doing what other rescue facilities do - rescue and rehome. Looking back, I wish we'd immediately found great homes for all of the animals right away.
Michael and I want to thank everyone who helped to support our rescue ranch efforts. We appreciate you! We are heart-broken with missing the animals we loved so deeply! We spent many hours with each animal, and we miss them dearly. But we deal with the emotional pain by knowing that - without our rescue efforts - these animals wouldn't be alive today. We also feel good that we are helping animals daily by being vegan, including by not wearing leather, wool, silk, cashmere, or other cruelly-obtained animal products.