Updated: May 24, 2019
Some words from Critter Barn Founder, Mary Rottschafer:
I wish it were possible to have you all see the memories in my mind over the years of Critter Barn. From the frosty mornings when I walked through the barn at 5am to check on a weak lamb, to the school busses rolling in the driveway, my experience has been rich beyond expectation, my own personal learning has been inspiring… Inspiring to the point of being dedicated to this farm since 1984, when a group of friends from my church choir changed our lives and our community. 35 years is a long time for any business. My love for gardening, for animals, for teaching, and for children has been well nurtured through this farm, as I have had the privilege to work with everyone. Jake the donkey is 34 years old now, he and I are the only two originals.
As we teach about farming with our classes, field trips, traveling farm events and public hour visiting… one thing remains constant: families, friends and students of all ages, enjoy spending quality time together at our farm. We impact families who are too busy, reach people who have special needs, and have regular encounters with children in urban settings, like the 80 children from Grand Rapids who attend Kidszone each week. I have been invited there for at least 7 consecutive years, so the older kids anticipate our “once-a-year” visit with incredible energy. But this year, after enjoying an hour of chickens, rabbits, goats and lambs, the director announced that they had a surprise for me.
A 5th grade girl, named Imani, made her way to the front of the room with a quart jar in hand, and made the following announcement: “Ms Mary, we know you need money for your new barn, so since January, we have been taking a collection for you. We know it’s not enough, but we hope that other people will help it multiply, just like the fish and bread in the Bible multiplied, so you get enough to build your new barns.” For over 3 and a half months- these children, who have so little, collected $58.55. She continued to say, “Ms Julie told us that we would find a way someday to visit your new farm, so you gotta build it.” I want to challenge all of you, our dear friends – to share the inspiration that comes from this group of children, and all the others who have frequented our farm – we have the opportunity to create an awesome place that will serve and bless people for decades. In Imani’s words….