It was November when I learned about the Horses in Need project being put on by Equine Photographers Network. I had recently decided to expand into Equine Photography and was trying to find a local rescue to approach about photographing their horses. And then I saw the sign…
It was just a small sign among the dozens of others posted on the door to my local gas station, but it must have been fate. A small sign, indistinguishable to many, stood out like it was the only one there to me. It was a call to stop by the local Tractor Supply and shop a yard sale to support this local large animal and livestock sanctuary- Big Oaks Rescue Farm. I decided then and there that I would have to go and learn more.
When I got there I went up, looked around, asked some questions, and mainly learned that the organization really started decades ago as Joe Mann could never turn away an animal in need. Joe Mann is the owner of the farm and a board member of the Greenwood Humane Society. He is a shy man (you wouldn’t even know he was there unless one of the ladies pointed him out), but filled with love and devotion to all these animals. I didn’t get to talk to him that day, but I did get to talk with one of the many volunteers who told me that Joe will never turn an animal, big or small, and that he never likes to ask for help which is why they were out there selling these donated items, trying to earn money to support this one man’s passion.
I went to another yard sale before I finally got to meet Joe and this time he brought a couple horses and a a few donkeys for the kids to pet and see. He was never in one place for more than a few seconds, always going back and forth tending to the animals making sure they were safe and hydrated, but it was here that I met his right hand woman- Mary Moss.
Mary has been my go-to person when completing this project. She knows pretty much all the animals by name (and I would say there are close to a hundred or more if you include all the goats and sheep). She is completely committed to the rescue going each and every day to help out with whatever needs done which includes feeding, some first aid care, and exercising/ training the horses. While Joe may be the visionary, it’s Mary and people like her that keep the rescue running.
While I was there the first day a young lady and her mother came to take a second look at a beautiful mare named Juliet. Juliet had been there for about two years and yet while still young and healthy, no one seemed to be interested. Then Hannah came, she asked to ride her and they saddled Juliet up, did some lunging, and realized they had a diamond in the rough all this time. No one had realized until Hannah came along that Juliet had such training. Hannah knew pretty much from day one that Juliet was the horse for her, but like any responsible person she wanted to think it over first and not make any rash decisions that would affect both their lives. The day I met Hannah was on her second visit to Juliet in which she brought her mom and by the time she left to double check with her dad we ALL knew that Juliet would eventually be going home with her. Juliet had made her choice, following Hannah around without any provocation or assistance.
I left that day feeling hopeful. Hope for Hannah and Juliet, for Joe and Mary as well as all the many unnamed volunteers that each in turn provide hope to these animals. With adoption fees beginning at $300, it’s a small price to not only find your companion, your partner, but also to help this organization which started out as an individual man with a promise to keep and has become an organization even Betty White wants to support. If you would like to learn more you can go to their Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Big-Oaks-Rescue-Farm or Contact Joe Mann at 864-993-9691.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to The Humane Society of Greenwood at P.O. Box 49776, Greenwood, SC, 29649. Please mark your donation as being for Big Oaks Rescue Farm. “Big Oaks Rescue Farm provides a refuge for abandoned, abused, and neglected large animals and livestock in Greenwood and surrounding counties of South Carolina.
Big Oaks Rescue Farm is a rescue and sanctuary dedicated to helping farm animals who are in need.
* Our mission and purpose is to provide a rescue farm for animals who have been abused,neglected or rescued from euthanasia. We work to provide them with a second chance of health, life, and a loving home.
* Our second goal is to provide education and public awareness about animal care and animal welfare to our community.”