Hope Haven Farm will leave you feeling lighter in spirit

Hope Haven Farm

There is a place where the cast of characters come straight out of a children’s book.  The setting is a farm where most mornings you will find the sun streaming through the trees and raining hues of gold down upon the buildings and the grasses below.  A place that makes you feel good about what real people are doing in order to make this world a better place. The cast of characters are many, and they are sure to leave an imprint on your heart.  When you leave Hope Haven Farm, don’t be surprised if you are a little lighter in spirit.  It has that kind of affect.  This is something that we could all use today.

Beautiful and quiet spaces at Hope Haven Farm.
Some of the resident ducks welcoming you to the farm.

I recently took a tour of the farm on a Saturday in late summer, however, it felt more like an early fall morning where the mist blankets the ground only to reveal a bright autumn sky.  It served as a backdrop to a very peaceful place.  I was the first to arrive that morning and took the opportunity to use my new camera.  As I stood by the lower gate, I kept getting the feeling that I was not alone.  A few seconds later I managed to locate the culprits-two emus doing a sort of marionette-like dance behind the gate. It almost appeared as if they were saying, ” Hey lady- look at us!” “Hey, whatcha doin?”   I stood alone by the farm gate laughing to myself at these two.  Soon I was joined by the rest of the tour group who were equally amused by their antics.  I  learned later that their names were Ruckus and Rigby. No one would ever know that their journey in life did not start out on a good note.  Ruckus came from a hobby farm where he had been beaten up quite badly by the other animals and was in terrible shape when he arrived at Hope Haven.  Rigby had a different story in that a farmer had a soft spot in his heart for him and set out on a mission to find him a proper home. Both animals were spared being killed for their meat which is the reality for most emus. The two have found their true calling in life and make a pretty good comedic opening act.

One of the many characters at Hope Haven Farm.

Seconds later, Dr. Karen and her group of volunteers arrived carrying a small table and other items for our group.  In a flash, the table was set up with snacks for the animals that the visitors could take along the tour as well as human treats for our group which were placed in a basket on the table. I am always thankful for the fact that some of the most memorable and funniest moments in life come unscripted.  Ruckus and Rigby proved the point as they got a little too fond of the table and managed to knock over the basket of human treats. Something told me that they knew what they were doing. Within seconds, two of the resident farm hogs seized the opportunity for a snack and swooped in trying to devour wrapper and all.  Rather calmly, Dr. Karen took over like a boss and put an end to their early morning crazy as the code enforcer.  The laughter continued as we walked up the hill towards one of the buildings.

This beloved farm pig loves to follow you around at Hope Haven Farm.

As we walked, Dr. Karen talked about the animals as she knows them by heart. All the while, Agnes, her faithful dog who is also a rescue never ventured too far away. When she speaks, you understand immediately-her love, mission, and compassion for these animals is genuine.  Her humor is spot on as I can only imagine that she is highly entertained by this group of animals.  Dr. Karen is a Veterinarian and is employed full time while running the farm.  She has always dreamed of rescuing animals and decided to put those dreams into action by purchasing the farm in 2011.  With a tremendous amount of hard work she has created a true safe haven for the animals. She is always going forward with a project that would benefit the animals in some way which is evident by the pond that was built for her ducks.

Just a few ducks and some goats coming to say hello to the visitors.
One of the many residents at Hope Haven Farm.

All of these animals have a story as to how they came to live at Hope Haven.  Many of them were being raised in deplorable conditions. After coming to the farm they were given proper treatment. I remember seeing three of the most beautiful black swans. They were once raised by someone who bred animals. When they arrived at Hope Haven, they could not walk due to a lack of muscle mass from being kept in a tight cage where they didn’t belong. Some of the stories are very hard, but they are real.  I smiled to myself knowing that these animals finally had the loving home they deserved.

Beautiful black swans of Hope Haven Farm.
Look at this face! Hope Haven Farm.
One of the many alpacas at Hope Haven Farm.

In order to keep this farm running as smoothly as it does, Dr. Karen surrounds herself with wonderful people who volunteer.  Opportunities to volunteer at the farm  exist and the responsibilities are varied.  If you feel like your heart and time is open, feel free to visit their website.

Donations are graciously accepted and I have listed some of the current needs at Hope Haven Farm:

A covered carport to hold shavings

Wooden split rail fencing

Cans for scrap metal

Food, (can be dropped off at the gazebo)

This is just a few of the items.  For a complete listing, please visit  their website.

You might spot a peacock strolling the grounds of Hope Haven Farm.

I am a firm believer in the theory that laughter is good for the soul. If this is true, then your soul will be in a good place after visiting. By learning the stories of each animal, I was able to appreciate this true sanctuary in the North Hills of Pittsburgh.  I hope that you will put Hope Haven Farm on your list of fall road trips.  I promise that you will remember your visit for quite some time.

Some of the sweetest residents at Hope Haven Farm.

Natalie
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