Ironwood Maine Web Update

“In like a Lion and out like a Lamb”, thus is March here in Mid-Coast Maine. While many of you are feeling the full impact of this Nor’Easter, as I write this, we awoke to freezing rain, slippery roads and snow forecast for the end of the event.  We’re ready and we’ve faced Lion’s before!

Up until this morning the pulse of spring was broadening as our fields are about bare of snow, except in the spots not hit by direct sunlight, and our stable of worthy equines have been flexing their tired winter muscles on our many pastures. Just to see the horses outside is a harbinger of softer weather to come. And my how the horses respond. Like children on a playground at recess there is much frolicking and jumping as they air it out from the confines of January and February. Our stable is top notch, with all residents acquiring advanced degrees of horsemanship. Not just riding, that comes after hours of tending to and learning about our equine friends. Just this morning the Barn Manager was off to our Frye Campus to conduct her weekly “Horsemanship Training”. Prior to ever getting to the Farmhouse and being involved with the larger animals, the Frye residents learn much about the handling, care and physiology of the sturdy little steeds. Recently, they’ve been actually “harness breaking” one of our minis so that it can pull a cart or buggy! How exciting.

Maple Monday is now entering week three with the Orchard of stately Sugar Maples tapped and depositing their liquid gold through the hundreds of “taps” into the scores of old metal buckets. There has been over 250 gallons of Sap gathered thus far and we have our first “boil” scheduled for next Monday. The residents are not just lugging buckets and doing manual labor, they are learning the process of “sugaring”, the history of Maple Syrup rendering from the native peoples to the early New England Settlers. They are engaging in outdoor cooking, tree and plant identification, the “signs” of spring and a good robust hike.

Farmhouse girls group ventured forth to the PAWS animal shelter in Camden yesterday and spent some quality time with the residents there brushing, grooming, exercising and dare I say, sharing some love!

Today, Farmhouse residents will be doing some baking (did I mention that the kids love baking) of items to be donated to the local church in the town of Brooks. Routinely local churches, Grange’s and other philanthropic groups will hold “public suppers” to benefit a local family or their own group in times of need. For us here in the rural reaches of Maine the public “suppah” is a great way to reconnect after a long winter. It is very meaningful for our residents to be part of these events by sharing their bounty in the way of baked goodies.

Sunday will see the Farmhouse residents going for an Ice skating outing. While you may think that this would be on one of our many local ponds, ice conditions are not always best so staff schedules a time at the Public Ice Arena in Rockland. As hard as the resident’s work all week, an outing to just socialize and simply be kids is a very welcomed and cherished event.


In spite of the awful weather, and at times the deep challenges of living in a therapeutic setting, life does carry on. Just this morning as I came into the Farmhouse there was a Level IV resident who was literally jumping up and down with joy as she was preparing to leave for her home visit. In a moment, as I was standing there, sharing in her jubilance, I couldn’t help myself but to picture this resident’s face on the day of her intake many months ago. And having conducted the parental tour those same many months ago, I could now sense the elation the family must be having at that same moment knowing that their child was coming home and on the last leg of her Ironwood journey. Yet, mostly, the joy she was displaying was buoyant and contagious to the entire group. Every resident, and staff, was keenly aware of the preciousness of the moment we were all experiencing. And yes, it is at moments like these that I retire to the office or nearest rest room to wipe the tears of joy from my eye. Why wouldn’t I. In the moment, there was nothing more joyful than being there!

Thanks for allowing your child to be part of our lives!

Have a great week. And don’t be afraid of the Lion, he’ll soon leave a Lamb.