I was so happy to be invited along with my family to Pal-O-Mine Equestrian’s “Winter Wonderland” on the last day of the J-STEP Holiday Market (they’ve since added a few more days…see below!) The childlike delight on my teenagers’ faces made it even better.
This is a deep, yet quiet celebration. It is not a day for the horses to strut their stuff. In fact, they seem to be on holiday themselves, enjoying the beautiful weather and occasionally approaching visitors to say “Hello.”
It is the smaller animals — fancy chickens, sheep and ponies — that have center stage. Children of all ages pet and walk the gentle creatures as they learn about the farm and its residents.
“If you really need some TLC, though,” says an instructor named Danielle, indicating an enormous Belgian Draft Horse standing by one of the fences, “Go see Boomer. He’s the best. He’ll fix you right up.”
“This is the day we give back to our volunteers and funders,” she continues, “Today, they get to come and enjoy, and we get to work.”
The way she phrases this is intriguing, “Ummm….Aren’t you usually working when you’re here?”
“Yeah,” she smiles, “But our volunteers donate so much of their time, and our donors make it all possible. Usually, I’m working with clients. Today, I get to give back to our supporters, hang out with my coworkers, relax and enjoy.”
“Isn’t that right, Lovie?” She nods to the sheep whose line she has just handed off to an older girl. That girl is now guiding other children in petting him and feeling for the lanolin deep in his wool. Danielle offers Co-Worker Lovie a snack and strokes his head.
I have yet to meet a staff member here who does not exude love and deep appreciation for their job.
“I met my best friend here,” says another instructor named Eve. She’s talking about Deb who is standing next to her. With them are two miniature horses whom we’ve been strolling with. They go on about funny coincidences and sweet simple fun. We marvel at the healthy 40-year old little horse named Honey and her dear friend, Darla. We breathe in the whole atmosphere and smile.
“We’re not snorting fairy dust here,” says Deb. Quite the opposite, actually. We laugh, thinking about the stuff inevitably in the air of a farm, even one as remarkably clean and well-kept as Pal-O-Mine. There is hard work being done here every day with a broad range of clients who are generally dealing with serious issues. The energy is overwhelmingly positive, though. Those involved speak of earthly miracles.
Miracles and peace. “Among so many blessings, this place offers the beautiful gift of being present,” Deb reflects, “Whether you work here, or are served here, or are just visiting there is nothing you can do but slow down. The animals require it. The clients with the deepest connection to them need it, too.
“We’re all about the ‘Power of the Pause’ here,” she says. “It’s magical.”
Peace, positivity, and appreciation of what’s possible. “There are so many good people and great stories here…and everywhere, really,” Deb says. “I see it every day. I think more people need to be shown.
“Yeah,” she continues, “we have to face and deal with the tough things, but people need to see the good stuff that is happening, too. Then, they know what can be done.”
I know I’m sure grateful for everyone showing me.
Pal-O-Mine’s added more days to their 2021 J-Step Holiday Shop!
Stop in at the front office if you would like to go to the shop
Thursday and Friday from 10am-4pm
Saturday from 10am-2pm
The Classroom at Pal-O-Mine
829 Old Nichols Road, Islandia, NY 11749
Cash, Card and Check Accepted!
Face Masks Are Required While Shopping Indoors
Last chance for the J-Step Holiday Shop!