Life Changing Experiences on the Ranch

Spring is an awesome time on a ranch. It’s a time when baby animals are being born, fields are beginning to green up, trees are blossoming, the weather is warming up, and life feels like a fresh start.

That’s how things are right now at KW Legacy Ranch. Spring has arrived and it’s been great.

Our students are enjoying the warming of the weather. They have participated in many projects recently including building shelters for the animals, putting up an entire new fence for the pasture, preparing the fields for irrigation and planting, and taking the cattle back to the range.

Let me tell you about two experiences we had recently…

Sally, our mother goat, had some new babies which the students have really loved.

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Actually…the arrival of the baby goats gave us an excellent therapeutic opportunity. Our mother goat Sally had three little babies. One of them was a runt and was much smaller than the other two. Sally immediately started caring for the two healthy kids and left the smaller one by herself. Immediately one of the students asked if he could care for the runt and nurse it to health.

This student took the baby goat gently in his arms and carried her to the ranch house. There he tried to bottle feed it some milk, keep it warm, and took a deep interest in saving her life.

Unfortunately during the night the little goat died.

Of course this student was heart-broken. He had tried everything he could to save the young goat’s life and still it died.

Now the opportunity for life lessons…

What a great experience it was to be able to discuss with this young man and the rest of the group about life, death, natural processes, meaning, legacies, etc. How do you cope with the loss of a loved one? What is your belief system? How do you show appreciation and respect to someone before the opportunity has passed? How did your parents feel when you were putting yourself in danger and they tried everything they could to help you but you wouldn’t listen?

So many topics to cover surrounding an event like this. What a great experience to be able to have these discussions!

The other event took place surrounding a work project.

During their stay at KW Legacy Ranch each student will have an opportunity to plan and coordinate their own ranch project. This is a time for them to plan materials needed, draw plans if necessary, lead and direct the other students, and to ensure that the job is done right. These projects give the students a deep sense of self accomplishment and pride. Throughout their project the student learns valuable lessons such as leadership, planning, perseverance, motivation, etc.

Recently one student’s project was to construct a brand new fence for the pasture. He had to plan how to do it and decide what materials were needed. The project consisted of tearing down the old fence and building a new one. This young man had to measure out the distance, determine the amount of posts needed, help find and cut cedar posts, dig post holes, set the posts, run barbed wire, set braces, etc. It was a lot of work and took a good amount of time to accomplish.

By the end of the project, this particular student had learned a lot about himself, leading others, hard work and persistence, motivating others, as well as the satisfaction of a job well done. After many long days, the fence was complete.

You could see the pride and satisfaction in this young man’s eyes as he stepped back and looked down the long, straight fence line. All that planning and hard work had culminated in this…he was now looking over his completed project. He talked about how good he felt and how much work he had put into making sure the project was done right.

“I didn’t realize how much work went into a project like this. It definitely opened my eyes. It feels so good to be done and to see the finished fence. This is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Then guess what he did? He thanked us for providing him the opportunity. What? A teenager actually thanked us for being able to work? Wow! At home this young man would have found every reason and excuse not to help out. Now he was thanking us for allowing him to do it.

What an amazing change!

These are the activities and opportunities that make a ranch so valuable for young people. I consider it a great privilege to be involved in this work. I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing. Helping teenagers and families change their lives through ranch experiences, therapy, family work, academics, etc. is a great blessing that we hope to be able to continue for a long time to come.

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