Adam and Joy’s Journey to Fauna Haven
Soon after marrying in 2005, we moved from New Mexico to Central Virginia for Adam’s work and immediately fell in love with it. With the breathtaking beauty all around, what’s not to love? We purchased our first home located on one acre of land. Having moved from a city with postage sized lots, we loved having an acre of land to call our own. While we enjoyed our increased space, we dreamed of one day buying what we at the time thought of as the perfect property: 10 acres of land with a creek.
After years of primarily being a stay-at-home mom, Joy decided to pursue a career in real estate. She got her real estate license in June, 2015. Around 2018, we decided that with the extra money coming in from Joy’s new career, it would be a good time to make some upgrades to our nice, but less than ‘dream home’. Months were spent looking at samples, looking online for inspiration, and thinking up ideas. Then, during the summer of 2018, all of the plans were derailed when Joy started showing clients some properties. In the evenings Joy would pull up some of the more notable listings for properties and would show them to Adam to explore alternative possibilities. Suddenly we began to think that maybe our renovation money would be better spent as a down payment! There was one property in particular which stuck out to Joy that she felt the rest of the family needed to see. It obviously needed work (a ton of work), but the potential was astonishing! Looking back on it, neither of us really know how Adam agreed to this knowing the amount of work it would take. Our savings (along with a gross under estimation of the amount of money we would spend in repairs), being swayed by the magical feeling of the property and the confidence this is the direction to which God intended for us, all led to having the biggest adventure of our lives!!
Year one was all about making necessary repairs and trying to keep Adam from having a heart attack! From needing all the wood work redone on the main house (dormers rebuilt, soffits, etc.), all new windows (52 in total), 5 new HVAC systems, 5 new roofs (main house, guest house, barn, shed, little wood shed) and exterior paint on everything. It was a lot to say the least, but we managed to make it through.
With all of the other amazing aspects of the property, we could not believe we found ourselves owning a 4-stall barn! We knew that we would fill it eventually, but vowed for the first year to just concentrate on repairs. We finished with exterior painting and were feeling pretty good about where we were in regards to the condition of the property in October, 2019. The next month, the day after Thanksgiving, the gentleman we had working on our driveway looked at our barn, and knowing through conversation that we aspired to care for animals, asked if we would be interested in a small mule and a half-miniature donkey. He and his wife had just listed them on Craigslist trying to find them a new home. Without hesitation, we said “YES!!!!!” We went to see them and fell in love. We spent the following weekend figuring out how we were going to work everything, how/where they would eat, etc. Neither of us had any experience with equine – None! Having only experience with dogs and chickens up to this point, these equine heads looked gigantic to us! We wondered what we were getting ourselves into and were a bit intimidated, but didn’t really care. We learned as we went along and Hershey and Sally have been integral members of the family ever since!
In February, 2021, while we were sitting relaxing, Joy got an email from a “farm animal” search she had saved on a pet site (you know, just in case ;). We began to read this eloquently written story about a sheep (Lenny) and a goat (Squiggy) who made a daring escape from a truck headed to the slaughterhouse and were now looking for their forever home (click the link below for the story as it was reported in the news!) Our hearts melted and we knew, especially as vegans, that a perfect ending to the story was living happily ever after at home named Fauna Haven. Through persistence (i.e. Joy relentlessly utilizing every single contact opportunity she could find), we were finally able to squeeze in an appointment to meet them, even though the office was technically closed due to snow. We went that afternoon and meet this little sheep and goat, who were much smaller than we expected. Lenny, being more motivated by food, was nervous, but willing to take the risk to be near us if it meant there was extra nibbles in trade. Squiggy wasn’t having it. We knew it would take some time as they hadn’t known a life of love, but we were willing to do whatever needed to show them love. We got the call that afternoon letting us know that they agreed that they should be at Fauna Haven! We couldn’t have been more excited and so began our journey to expand Fauna Haven into an official Animal Sanctuary and to dedicate our lives to that end.
Realizing our desire to not merely provide sustainment, but rather provide complete happiness and love, we embarked on expanding the existing infrastructure by building a second barn and an additional 2000’ of pasture fencing and pen areas with plenty of room to grow. Taking on this endeavor at the heart of the highest priced period for wood not only demonstrated our resolve and personal commitment, but also made us realize that in order to fully utilize the land and be able to “do more” for as many animals as possible, we wouldn’t be able to do it on our own. We applied to become a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which was approved by the IRS in October, 2021. The rest is history!
We cannot wait to see where this journey takes us!