It was November 1992 and we were driving in the country when we came upon a small house with a for sale sign on it. Obviously a fixer upper, the appeal of the area is what drew us in. The open fields surrounded by forests of ponderosa pines and bordered by Riverside State Park on two sides.
We moved into the house in January, married in February and our relationship was tested through the trials of fixing this old place up.
The realtor told us we should tear down the barn, since it had been in a fire. He did not see the potential we saw. We rehabilitated the barn and made it into Pete’s studio.
The doghouse in the back yard was taken to the dump.
The interior of the house had to be approached with sledgehammers, humor and patience.
When Pete and I bought this place we had no idea, no plans, no intention of creating an animal sanctuary. Not because we did not want to, but rather because we did not know the need.
Within a few years of living here we did learn of the need. That need influenced decisions in terms of fencing, building and habitat projects to the point of relating virtually all we did on this property and in our lives to be toward the good of animals. Taking into consideration the wildlife corridor we kept the vacant property for them while doing what we could to make the pastures healthy, the shelters solid and many, and the water lines plenty.
Pete transformed the green metal shed into an 1800 square foot rabbit house, complete with heat, air and water in 1996. Goat and bird shelters were built and in 2004 we had a beautiful monitor style barn for the horses and hay. Nothing has happened overnight as it comes with a lot of work, patience, time and money.
We work as a team and we have terrific volunteers and support.
I ask Pete the same question each year. "Are you sorry that you left Arizona and your studio and your life down there?"
His answer is always the same. “No I’m not sorry. I am happy and we have a strong purpose here. If we weren’t doing this, many of these animals would have met a horrible end. It doesn’t offer financial reward, but when we can go out and be nuzzled by a formerly abused horse who has placed their trust in us, that is worth more than money.” He says this with tears welling up.
I love this man with my entire being. He is sensitive, compassionate, honest, insightful and a gifted artist. He is my rock and the rock to River’s Wish.