Wondering what motivated the beginning of Tomten Farm and Sanctuary?
When I, Jenifer Vickery (the Founder of Tomten), was much younger, in college and far more naive, I reluctantly had to place my beautiful thoroughbred mare, Sturgeon Moon, in another home. Despite my parents’ financial help, there just wasn't enough money for college and a horse. So sadly she was given to a "good home" with a safety net contract… a signed promise to return her to me if they could not keep her.
It was one of the hardest decisions of my life—college or Moon. As it turned out the new owners determined, "Moon" was not the best fit for the girl she was intended for and her father asked for my permission to place "Moonie" with their neighbors who seemed to love her. We allowed it with another signed contract, another promise and the belief we were doing the right thing.
We visited her both on the property and again at a horse show, continuing to check up on her as regularly as we could back in a time when there were no iPhones or internet and one had to rely on snail mail, landline and in person contact.
But then, out of nowhere, something went terribly wrong; we couldn't reach them. After dozens of sleepless nights, unanswered phone calls and countless phone calls to vets, rescues, and slaughterhouses, we learned that we were too late. Moon was already gone.
Much to our dismay, my childhood mare, ”Sturgeon Moon" had been sent to auction. Her new owners had broken their word and their contract and abandoned the horse they had promised to protect. The auction house further confirmed our worst nightmare.
The first horse I ever owned, the only horse I had ever owned, had gone to slaughter. My beautiful mare, the horse who depended on me for peace, protection and possibility, had spent her last days, her last hours, alone and scared...first at auction, then en-route in a double decker trailer (legal at that time) and finally at the slaughterhouse. She died a horrible, horrible death and I vowed to never, ever, no matter what it took, allow an animal in my care to find themselves in that position again.
I have never forgiven myself for giving her up and “allowing” her to be sold by-the-pound and slaughtered. I have questioned my college choices again and again and again. Perhaps this knowledge, this scarring, this lingering emptiness in my chest, is where my everyday drive and determination comes from to create this place where every animal’s dreams-come-true. It is that permanently etched memory of my once beautiful mare that speaks to my soul and gives me the strength to be more, to do more, to help more every day. It's also why some of our rescues are pulled directly from equine and livestock auctions where they stand alone, lost and confused at the end of line when there is most often no hope and no kindness in sight.
For Moon, it could have been that one thing that would have made all the difference, one person, just one kind stranger, to be there at a sale, to be able to have stepped up to save her, the much loved mare who found herself in need.
And so, together with others who have joined this journey, I (we) strive to be that kind stranger and rescue—as many as our resources allow. Horses, pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys, cats, cows, rabbits, chickens and more. Together we provide a fortunate few the peace, protection and possibility that, in the end, Moon did not receive. And it is here, at Tomten Farm and Sanctuary, that with your help, these animals—the lucky lives we rescue—can find dreams-come-true for the rest of their days. It is here they find a tomorrow filled with peace, protection and possibility.
Thank you for reading Moon's story, perusing our website and getting to know who we are, what we do and how we do it. Your presence is in itself a gift, an opportunity to share her memory and help others like her, live on through those we save. No animal should have to suffer Sturgeon Moon's fate and together, with people like you, we can make the world a better place for animals in need. Together, we can offer many a lifetime home at Tomten Farm and Sanctuary, we can raise awareness, be a force of good and make a life saving, life changing difference.