On the conveniently sunny Sunday afternoon of Sept. 13, the directors of Mary’s Farm Sanctuary held an open house to raise funds for their animals.
The sanctuary is part farm, part animal caretaking center.
“We’ve been here for thirteen years, but we’ve officially been a…nonprofit for four,” founder Mary Dyroff said.
“Once we moved in, we started having people dump animals out here in the rural area, and we started getting involved in equine rescue. It just kinda grew from there.”
Currently, the sanctuary is host to 19 equines, two goats, nine dogs, and 20 cats. The crops grown at the farm are distributed to senior centers in Lone Tree and CommUnity, the crisis center in Iowa City. The animals sometimes travel there, as well.
“We put an emphasis on therapy visits for nursing homes and seniors, and school projects for kids,” Dyroff said.
The events that the sanctuary holds are usually posted on Facebook, or word of mouth spreads and draws peoples’ attention.
“Because of the farmers markets being closed, this was our only shot…to get people out for them to know about us,” said Barb Wagner, a board member for the sanctuary.
Wagner said she has firsthand experience for how the sanctuary treats its animals.
“I brought my brother’s elderly dog here. They thought they were going to put him to sleep, and three years later he’s still here in excellent care,” she said.
The open house featured various local vendors selling goods, from stuffed rabbit dolls made by Dyroff’s 90-year-old mother, to animal sketches, t-shirts and food. A pumpkin pop-up proved a popular display.
Also available was a petting arena, where multitudes of donkeys and horses (including the farm’s largest acquisition, the 6-foot-at-the-haunches, 2600-pound Belgian draft horse, Dutch) strolled around and let visitors pet them. A few of the smaller ponies even walked around amongst the visitors.
The event attracted dozens of guests some with children, some with pets of their own and lasted for four hours.
To find out more about Mary's Farm, go to their website: www.marysfarm.org/about-us.