Hi Everyone. I'll start with the usual apology...I havnt blogged since June, I am bad, everyone knows it. People often ask me what I do for fun, I always say "Sleep". Someone once asked how to get ahold of me, I said "Call late at night (518)827-7733 or email Laraway@midtel.net during the weekdays." Unfortunately, I can not access Facebook at school, they have it blocked so only the students can get on it with their phones (no, I refuse to get a cell phone). Facebook is pretty much the way that the world uses email now, the school censors will figure that out in time.
Since I have last blogged, the summer has been busy, as always. We had many visitors at our facility. We have taken our educational animals on the road to dozens of events. We have saved more animals than I could ever mention (or list) here in one blog. If you have ever explored our website, we always let people know where we are going to be. I am very proud of our wildlife preservation and conservation shows. Educating the public and trying to keep funding coming in to our facility has always been two of my biggest priorities. Coordinating Volunteers has also become a big part of my responsibilities as Director. Since our Not for Profit facility gets no State or Federal funding, I take help from who ever is handing it out.:) Help in labor, money or supplies is always welcomed.
As the summer came to a close and I was getting back into "School Mode" we also experienced a horrible natural disaster known as Irene. I awoke to the pounding rain on the metal roof that morning, I went to "nap/sleep" late that night after we had gotten the dozens of people settled in that had shown up at our house with no where else to go to get out of the valley. We are not flatlanders, from our facility we have the best view of Middleburgh that there is and it wasn't pretty for the next few days. Our critters and the folks that came looking for a place to stay were high and dry. My wife has always been a Saint, there was always soup on the stove, coffee in the pot and a warm blanket for who wanted it.
The next morning, one of my best friends and I went to check on the rest of the animals that I couldn't get off of his farm the day before because the water was coming up too fast. Most had drown in their efforts to escape but there were some miracles. Two of the four horses had went back into the barn with 7 feet of water. They had managed to climb up on round bales and were alive. A goat and a sheep made it with the same plan......and one little chicken. His llama had swam with the current over the fields to a neighbors a mile away. There were some happy stories, most were not. I didn't focus on the dead animals that we buried that first day after the flood. I focused on the live animals and the people that had lost just about everything that they owned. We are used to dealing with some floods in the Schoharie Valley, we were not prepared for Irene. Water got where it has never gotten before. For crying out loud, the Blenhiem Covered Bridge built in 1855 washed away (I will be putting my 1997 video of it from school on You Tube at some point soon).
For the last month, with my dedicated staff of volunteers, we have tried to deal with the after effects of Irene. We cleaned out houses, barns and stores. My wife still cooks too much for dinner. We still have a lot of animals that came in during the days after the flood. It is amazing to me how people that have "lost everything" will still go out of their way to save their animals and get them to a safe place. Many of the dogs, cats, horses, goats, cows,pigs, etc. that have come in to our facility do not have a farm or a home to return to. We will deal with it but winter is coming. I feel so bad for the farmers that have lost everything, their livestock, crops, equipment and barns. The hay that got wet during the flood did get hot enough to burn down some barns that survived the flood.
Watching the people of the Schoharie Valley dig out, throw out and work together to rebuild their homes, farms and our towns has been amazing. We might not have a gym or cafeteria at school but we have kids learning in our classrooms. Slowly the shops, restaurants and road stands will open back up.....I hope that everyone spends what they can afford with everyone that reopens their businesses. If you have hay, I know farmers that don't. Never take for granted that what you have today can't be gone tomorrow.....I've always said that I don't plan on taking any of it with me, these poor people lost a lot. It seems like the "outside world" has forgotten about us already. It is so easy to turn the channel on the TV or for a politician to go home after the photo opt is over and the promises have been made. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone that has lost anything from Irene. Keep your chin up, walk forward, tomorrow is another day. WES