In our last newsletter two and half weeks ago we shared the very exciting news that we were trying to raise the finance to buy this incredible place from our landlord. I can't believe it's only been eighteen days - it feels like a few months with all that we have been doing and have achieved in this time! Our heartfelt intention is to safeguard this place for the herd to continue to live happily - as the terrain, the infrastructure, the grasses, herbs, trees and water suits them so well and this lovely valley and hillside even seems to have its own micro climate which also suits the herd perfectly - all this is enabling them to truly thrive. Beyond their days and our days, it is also our deepest desire to put this land into a trust so that it can remain a wildlife and nature sanctuary forever - beyond us, our children and our children's children... in perpetuity! Whenever I feel this intention I get goosebumps and my heart bursts open - it feels like it is the legacy I am here to create.
We were blown away by the many offers of funding to help us buy the entire estate - and within 48 hours of putting a tentative post on facebook asking whether there was interest in some kind of collaboration, we were offered enough pledges to hopefully raise the full amount! No mean feat as the asking price is a cool £1.2million.
THANK YOU ALL!!
My words cannot convey my deepest heartfelt overwhelming gratitude I have for every single one of you who has been able to see our vision and jump in to support us with offers of buying cottages, land, investing in future holiday or retreat time here and even to incredibly generously give from the heart without any desire for return - just to see this place stay a sanctuary forever. We have had so much support and love from you all and it has kept me going in my crazy, often seemingly impossible quest to make this dream a reality.
We have been literally living hand to mouth for the past nine years whilst running the sanctuary and putting everything we earn and are donated into keeping the herd and caring for the land they inhabit. This has made it a challenge to find investment from traditional sources such as banks ... but having been buoyed with offers of many individual investors it gave me the courage to try getting a conventional loan. To put in an offer to buy the estate from multiple sources seemed fraught with difficulties when it came to arranging a simultaneous completion. So, I pulled out my "Cape of Courage and Confidence!", wrapped it around myself and phoned numerous mortgage brokers, investing institutions, business angels, banks and so on. After a lot of "I love what you are trying to do but you must be joking" type responses, I eventually found a few people at ethical banks supporting sustainability, animal and human welfare and our Earth, who understood what we were doing, saw the huge potential here and were prepared to take us seriously. We secured an offer letter for a loan within days, miraculously in time for the very short deadline our landlord (the vendor) gave everyone for all offers to be in by. We put in a full offer to buy which had to include our detailed plans for estate including sustainability, animal welfare, human wellbeing etc in order to meet the Charity Commission's objectives ... and then lay in a dark room, crossing our fingers and pinching ourselves in equal amounts!!
We then had to wait an agonising few days before we heard a tentative YES from the vendor, and then an even more agonising week until a letter of acceptance dropped into our email box!
The last few days have been spent sourcing and instructing the perfect solicitor who has much experience of agricultural land and multiple property conveyancing as well as business and charity knowledge to ensure as smooth a process as possible for us where our best interests will be protected.
Please hold us in your thoughts and wrap us, the herd and the land here in highest possible light - we need all the most wonderful energy and love to keep this in flow and fully aligned to our purpose.
Our heartfelt thanks to you all once again.
During this crazy, busy time where my brain has been almost exploding with all the phone calls, networking, business meetings, business plans etc etc it has been wonderful to have the company of friends for chats, walks, meals together and help on the land. Thank you to everyone who has been here and supported us so much over the last few weeks. Your gentle, loving energy and laughter as well as your physical help has been so greatly appreciated.
THE HERD AND THE HENS
Everyone is very well! They are enjoying the abundance of grasses, herbs, wild medicinal plants and hedgerow foraging.
We now have access to the entire estate as the sheep farmer who was a previous tenant has thankfully left back in the spring. Although it was lovely having the sheep here with their babies, it was always incredibly bitter sweet as we knew too well their imminent demise waiting their fate as the lambs get taken off for slaughter and the mums are left to grieve the loss and mated again to continue the endless cycle of use and exploitation.
We are conservation grazing with the herd - rotating the grazing and allowing many areas to grow long grasses, wild flowers and be enjoyed by wildlife.
When the weather is hot, the herd are choosing to spend a lot of time in the yard and various barn and shelter areas during the heat of the day. We have had our lovely local fencing contractor Andrew Davies here with his tractor and digger to move muck heaps, clear the yard and tracks from winter mud and lay 20 ton of sand in the yard and barn so that they have a really good healthy footing. Exiting the yard is an area of stone and slate which is also really good for their hooves and overall health. Alongside the barn are a selection of water buckets with either pure spring water or some with organic apple cider vinegar, zeolites or salt for them to self select. There are also lots of good scratching posts for them, overhanging branches of trees and buckets of various dried and fresh herbs to select. Now the sand is down we won't be feeding hay in the barn area as it can lead to sand colic if they ingest any, so we are feeding hay on the stony track and in hay boxes away from the sand. We are looking forward to seeing how the sand impacts on their hoof health - especially for the donkeys who are desert creatures naturally and ideally require even drier, sandy terrain than the horses.
Very sadly one of our dear lavender bantams passed away a couple of weeks ago. As they were living here before we arrived we are unsure of their age, and hope that her dear friend will continue to live happily and healthily for many more years. We therefore needed to find her a companion as a solitary hen is not a happy hen. We are very grateful to have met a family locally who donated one of their hens who needed a home, so Ginger and Penny are now enjoying the sanctuary together.
We are loving sharing the lake with wild ducks and swans and are very excited that we have ducklings and cygnets. The swans are wonderful parents and it's such a joy to watch them caring for their young family.
The yellow irises all around the lake edge and huge pad of water-lillies on the lake are all starting to burst into flower which is such a beautiful sight and is attracting vibrant coloured dragon flies ... so amazing to see.
We have lots of frogs around who are enjoying all the water as well as the long grasses and flower beds.
Swallows, bats and sparrows are nesting in the barn. I love seeing the bats and swallows swooping over the lake at dusk. Red kites, herons and buzzards in the sky are a spectacular sight. Woodpeckers, squirrels and many songbirds feed on the feeders outside our kitchen window and enjoy the huge amount of natural foraging there is around too.
Further around the land so many other creatures call this place home including badgers, rabbits, foxes, otters, salmon, trout, kingfishers, grasshoppers etc. We love sharing this special place with them all as well as the magnificent trees - including so many ancient oaks - and feel very blessed to be guardians here to ensure their wellbeing.
We have created a memorial garden to our family who have passed over, including dear Ollie who was a dear friend to many of you. Sadly the rabbits took advantage of many of the lush plants, shrubs and trees we planted in this new garden, so we have now erected a rabbit proof fence around this new garden area and are watching as everything hopefully recovers.
SPONSORING THE HERD
Springwood Sanctuary is completely privately funded by a 'family' of sponsors and volunteers - including ourselves David and Jacqui. Much of income from other sources is put into keeping the herd happy and healthy, as well as our time given for free. It costs on average £2,000 per month and a great deal of time, energy and physical hard work to keep the herd of eleven horses and donkeys living their best lives as freely and healthily as possible, and we are very grateful for all the support we receive from our friends who we truly regard as part of the Springwood family.
We are a not for profit social enterprise, supporting others with mental health challenges, wellbeing and immersion in nature, mindfulness and healing - often for free or in exchange of some help on the land. It is our hope that we will be able to start offering retreat days again which support the herd by giving us a small income. Unfortunately we've not been able to do this since our move last November.
If you aren't already part of our Springwood family of volunteers and sponsors and are interested in being involved in this way, we would really love to have you join us. Our website pages have options to volunteer, make one off donations, sponsoring the whole herd of the eleven beauties or several individual herd members - Blue Moon, Missy, Tor, Rodney or Thomas. Please feel free to browse and join us if you are able. Even a £1 donation makes so much difference and if you can't afford that (I know that feeling of being strapped for every available penny so I totally understand) but would like to be part of the sanctuary please send LOVE by connecting with your heart and envisaging love flowing from your heart to the hearts of the all the beings here... the love and heartful connection from every one of you makes a big difference.
Last but not least ...
"THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU "
Immense, incredibly huge and abundant gratitude to YOU my dear friend who is reading this and supporting us on our journey. If it wasn't for all the support energetically and financially that we receive to pay for the huge day to day expenses of the herd, we simply wouldn't have been able to achieve all we have so far. We are so indebted to you all and want you to know that we receive any money and physical help with absolute immense gratitude.
Wishing you all a wonderful few weeks ahead.
With much love to you all