Rosco’s Rescue Ranch has served as a sanctuary for horses in need since its establishment in 2013. In light of current challenges, the Ranch is gearing up for its annual Fall Craft Fair, a crucial fundraising event aimed at securing supplies for the winter. We sat down with the director, Kate Burleson, for an in-depth look at the Ranch’s journey and its current mission.
“In 2013, I rescued a mare named Vinny to be a companion for my horse, Rosco,” Kate recounted. “Soon after, we took in a miniature donkey. From then on, people started to contact me about horses needing homes, and things took off from there. We also help to find homes for horses and other animals at the owner’s request, who do not come to the rescue.”
This sanctuary is now navigating one of its biggest challenges: a severe hay shortage due to erratic weather patterns. “Supply is down, but the demand is still there,” Burleson explains. “Prices have soared to between $10 – $13 a square bale in this area, a significant hike from last year’s prices. With the Ranch consuming up to 30 bales in colder weather, the costs add up rapidly.”
Nebraska’s agriculture sector is facing an alarming challenge. Extreme drought conditions have tightened the state’s hay supply, potentially jeopardizing the livelihoods of countless farmers and putting livestock at risk.
Nestled in the Beaver Valley near Wilsonville is SR Farms Alfalfa Company, a beacon of Nebraska’s rich agricultural legacy. Steve Rice, the owner, states, “Extreme drought has made for a tight hay supply, and SR Farms Alfalfa Company in southwest Nebraska is doing everything they can to get quality hay to customers.” Owned and operated by the Rice family, they have been rooted in agriculture in Furnas County for 150 years.
With hay turning into one of the “hottest commodities” due to its limited supply, the drought’s repercussions are far-reaching. The supply challenge is not only limited to Nebraska but is a concerning issue across multiple feeding states.
Steve Rice elucidates on the severity of the issue: “Last year with the drought, we went into the fall in extremely poor soil conditions. Terrible as far as moisture and then we had extremely cold weather there for a while this winter with no cover and we experienced more winter kill this year than we did any other year that we’ve been in operation.”
To combat this pressing issue, the annual Fall Craft Fair stands as a beacon of hope. “Our first Craft Fair Fundraiser began four years ago with just 12 vendors,” Kate shared. “Each year we’ve seen growth, attracting more crafters and supporters. It’s become a pivotal event for us.”
For crafters and vendors interested, participation is straightforward. “Our only requirement is a $50 donation to rent a space. We strive to ensure no two vendors sell identical items to keep the spirit of variety and competition alive,” she added.
The Blair community’s response has been overwhelmingly positive. “Based on last year’s turnout, I am estimating around 200 shoppers,” Kate notes with optimism, “especially since we have Linda’s Tacos serving lunch.”
Funds raised play a direct role in the horses’ well-being. Kate told us, “All proceeds from the vendors/crafters space rentals, will go toward the purchase of winter hay. We need 880 bales to get us through winter to spring. At $10 a bale, that puts our goal at $8,800.”
Local businesses have stepped up to champion this cause. Farm Bureau Insurance and State Farm Insurance are notable sponsors this year, underlining the community’s commitment to the Ranch.
Kate’s forward-thinking approach ensures the sanctuary is prepared for future challenges. “To combat shortages, we’re securing our needs until next spring. We’re also investing in additional hay storage, and a supporter has generously allowed us storage space in his barn.”
Amid these hurdles, the heart of Rosco’s Rescue Ranch remains in its success stories. Kate fondly recalls Vinny, their very first rescue. “Vinny was severely underweight. Our vet gave her a 50/50 chance of surviving the winter. However, with dedicated care and a weight gain program, Vinny made a miraculous recovery. There are many stories like Vinny’s, and they fuel our passion for rescuing.”
For those unable to attend the Fair but keen on supporting, Kate directs them to their website, roscosrescueranch.org. “We also offer volunteer opportunities at the rescue and during fundraising events.”
As winter approaches, Rosco’s Rescue Ranch embodies resilience and community spirit. Their journey is a testament to the power of collective effort and the profound love for the creatures in their care.