Thursday, November 20, 2014

Good Morning Good News !!!! November 20, 2014

I just have to tell you a story from our first ThanksLiving Dinner in the 9th Life Center in 1999.  At that time only one room had much of a floor.  Did I mention when we got the place the fields were in corn,
Rikki’s First Sheep Escape

the front yard and barns were full of trash and appliances,

and the house was falling down? 

People would visit and say ... seriously .. YOU’re going to turn this dump into a SANCTUARY?   What kind of mess have you gotten yourself into? 
Do you have ANY idea how much HARD work this will take?  You’ll never make anything of this place. 

Well on that first ThanksLiving day the volunteers who’d made a vow to stick to it and to make a sanctuary happen had had just about a year of hard work, they’d cleared away all the garbage, dump truck after dump truck full, they hauled 32 rusted out busted refrigerators to the dump, they’d eaten a lot of corn cooked over a bon fire, they’d built a feral cat run,

Rikki’s First Family of Ferals

dog pens, a rabbit area and had fenced in a horse area for the skinny old horse found tied to the three legged picnic table that was our dining room. 

That first ThanksLiving dinner was in the evening, after dark, and after cold, cus we had to work all day caring for the animals
that were already calling Rikki’s home and so it was the “kitchen” which was for hoomans and animals,
where I had my desk,
we had a couch, a half functioning smoky wood stove for heat, cages for any sick animals, and the animals that came inside when they wanted, including Copper the horse, Claire the pig, Nanny the goat,
Babbs the sheep and Chuck the Rooster who’d occasionally like to squeeze in and cozy up to the wood stove. 
The next room over that had a very very sagging floor, very uneven, had blankets on the floor and was the cat room. 
The other two rooms had no floor and were unusable. 

Are you getting the idea of primitive?  There was probably 10 or 12 of us, including my Dad who loved working at Rikki's and would spend a month or two building things every year.  He and my mom had come for a visit, he'd stayed almost 3 months that year, sleeping with me and any others staying over in sleeping bags on the floor in that one room. 
My mom had visited often, but stayed in the Holiday Inn for a couple weeks, then gone home to her house with flush plumbing, and other such luxuries.  As much as she loved the animals, especially the cats, and for all the foreign and primitive places my dad’s work had her living, she was done with that.

That ThanksLiving dinner was probably most unsanitary by common hooman meal standards !!!  The most common phrase was, please pick up the cat and pass the dressing.  The delicious vegan dressing was in a big bowl with plastic wrap over it and Slinky the resident Chief Cat insisted on curling up and sleeping on that warm dressing. 
SLINKY, Rikki’s Original Kitty

Though the dressing really was fabulous, I think the driving force behind serving after serving was people loved watching Slinky being removed and then curling back up in the bowl and going back to sleep ... all while purring loudly.  

With most of the windows broken and clear tape over them, no insulation anywhere in the house, huge cracks in the floors and walls .... it didn't hold in a lot heat and was pretty chilly inside ...  the dressing was a really nice cozy bed.  Those of us who lived in sleeping bags on the floor only wished for something so warm. 
All our volunteer efforts had gone into building animal housing, there had been no time and not enough volunteers to bother worrying about “house” space yet.   By the time we hoomans got inside at night, we were totally exhausted and even a cold sleeping bag on a hard floor felt good for the few hours we wasted in sleep.  We had a sanctuary to build !!

The most remembered scene from that first ThanksLiving Dinner was when Slinky, after eating, if I recall, the vegan whipped cream off someone’s pumpkin pie, climbed to the top of the water heater that was also in that room, along with washer and dryer, and started gacking and did it right in one of Auggie's boots !!!!    

Auggie launched into a hysterical monologue complete with miming   
       .. with all this space 
              ....  in this entire place 
                          ...  and here comes this cat 

         ...  I got a twitch in my stomach 
                ...  I think I gotta gack 
                         ...  he looks around frantically 

            ...  no, not over there 
                  ... not on a floor that's bare 
                      ....  no, not where it's easy to clean 
                           ...  I want to find a place that's really mean 

          ....  where oh where shall I gack 
                    ....  WOW check out those boots !!!   

        But how tall they are 
             ....  how can I reach that high 
                 ... so I can gack up inside 

          ....   Ah I shall climb to the highest place 
                 ....  and pray that my aim is purrfect !!!!

All you have to say to anybody who was at that first Thanksliving dinner is "Auggie's Boots" and to this day they will go into a fit of hysterical laughter !!!

One person relatively new to animal rescue and who'd had volunteered a time or two on building projects, never been inside the totally falling down farm house,
that someday would be named the 9th Life Center, who hadn’t yet learned what really hard goal driven work to the point that nothing else mattered meant, had come dressed up like she was going to a formal dinner.  She immediately felt out of place with the rest of us in overalls and dirty jeans. 
She kept saying, Oh maybe I should go.  But she quickly fit in and had the time of her life.  Maybe more fun than all the rest of us !!   One of Slinky’s wives, Short Tail Mom, claimed her beautiful cashmere scarf and kept hauling it off to make a bed.  She gifted it to Short Tail at the end of the evening saying it was far better used as a cozy bed than a scrap to tie around her neck!   That volunteer is still a hard worker in the animal world today !!

This year’s ThanksLiving Dinner will be a far cry from that first one.  Though we will have critters about, Opie and Timmy and Sylvestra, Duke and Mr Turkey at the very least   .....  we now have the lovely Life Center.  The Life Center building is about 100 years newer than the 9th Life (which has had a lot of upgrades since those early days, so much so, that people who pop in like a blast from the past often ask, so you tore it down and built something new?), it has flush plumbing and a huge modern kitchen, central heat ....  Ohhh and a fireplace ... hey somebody ought to bring wood ,... or get out here and chop some ....  we’re yet to use the fireplace!!! 

ThanksLiving Dinner is Saturday, so this is it if you’re signing up to dine with us.  And if not, we pray you have a happy and safe for all species ThanksLiving Dinner where ever you are. 

Thank you for making Rikki’s what it’s become today. 
I knew together we would make that happen.  It’s taken a lot of faith from donors and a lot of hard work from volunteers. 
And just look where we are today!  1300 animals of 22 species who’ll never again know a cruel hand, hunger, or the feeling of being unloved and unwanted.

All because of YOU !!!!

Thank you !!!!   

I hope to see you this holiday season.  If you’re unable to stop in and visit with the animals you’ve built a home for, all these wonderful little furry and feathered friends who’s life you changed, would you please consider sharing what you are able with them? 
It is only thru your continued support that we are able to carry on, to feed everyone, to care for them, to pay for their medical needs.  There is no government funding, no grants, no support from larger organizations, it’s all here, just you and me .... doing what we can to change the world and to give our wonderful animal residents the chance at life they deserve.

Thank you for helping us,


PS We always spend your funds very wisely and frugally.  We buy the basic necessities, we buy generic in bulk, volunteers drive many miles, donating the cost of gas, to get the best deals, we use day old produce, recently expired products, others left over construction materials and recycled products. 

We don’t need luxury, we don’t need the best ... we just want to save lives and create a world of happiness and contentedness.

When we can meet our basic needs, we are happy ... so very happy.

Thank YOU for making that happen.

PPS Ya all remember to vote now, ok?  Rikki's Refuge, VA, USA in the Shelter Challenge !!!  Win nums for animals with just a few clicks !!
It’s very important -- with the advent of on-line contests -- we’ve come to rely on the winnings for an important part of our funding.  So PLEASE click every day !!!

This is YOUR Rikki’s Refuge !!!

Please Join us Saturday as we Celebrate Life !!