Pulling into the driveway of a charming old stone castle-like home in southern Maine, I had no idea what to expect from a place that had been billed as a ‘horse rescue farm’ by the friends who introduced it to me. I saw lovely stables, befitting the old-world charm of the ‘country estate’ (to call it a ‘farm’ seems a bit of an understatement) and assumed the owners’ horses resided there.
Every inhabitant had been rescued and came with stories of abuse and neglect. Today they receive good care, a healthy diet, veterinary and farrier care, turnout and lots of love and attention.
Stonehouse Farm is a work in progress. Just this summer a new arbor was built and lush gardens are beginning to fill in the walls on this 100+ foot long path complete with crystal chandeliers and stone statuary – everywhere.
Manmade ponds are under development and you can rest in a small gazebo, with yet another set of chandeliers, while listening to the trickling water flow between them.
Bridle paths are being cut into the 50+ acre property and here and there small patios, with more statuary, have been strategically placed bringing to mind a buddhist retreat.
Even the elusive barn cat is a rescue kitty – now well looked after but still frightened of all humans.
Meanwhile, the new stable inhabitants have learned that visitors usually mean treats or a head scratch or maybe even a walk or ride in the cool of the evening.
Trust is building again.
The owners, Milena and Erik Banks, are ex-pat New Yorkers. After 9-11 they made the decision to create a simpler life and, after a stint in Connecticut, headed further north to Maine. Milena said, “The horses have their forever home here. We took on numerous sheep, six cats, up to 14 dogs at one time, although now there are only 11. We took in an abandoned rate who ate and lived with the chickens till he died of cancer. We have a rescue quail too. Three of the geese are rescues.
“We thought, after 9-11, that we wanted to give something back to the animals in the world. Seeing the billowing smoke from the towers changed our lives.”
And they, in turn, are changing others’ lives, one critter at a time.