<![CDATA[LANCER LEGACY RANCH - War Eagle Blog]]>Wed, 10 Jan 2018 15:22:20 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Crusaders]]>Tue, 06 Jun 2017 13:32:03 GMThttp://lancerlegacyranch.com/war-eagle-blog/crusadersPicture
Personal Narrative of 1LT Christopher Dean
​3rd Platoon Tank Commander, Blue 1, Charlie 31, "Crispy Crème"
​Awarded: Silver Star, Purple Heart

On April 4, 2004, at approximately 1735hrs, my platoon was alerted by a call over 2-5IN (Lancer) battalion net that they had a platoon-sized element that had been ambushed and isolated on route DELTA in Sadr City, Baghdad. Upon receiving the information from our Company CP, I rallied the platoon, and we started moving to our tanks in the motor pool on the southwest end of the Martyr's Monument compound. Due to radio difficulties, the tank was prepped and ready to go before we had solid communications on the company level. I knew that SSG Deaton's tank had communications at the company level, and I had communications with Lancer battalion net, so I determined to perform communications troubleshooting while on the move to route DELTA. We left the south gate of the Martyr's Monument in the order of march (crew designation, as some were working on loaned tanks due to company retrograde and reconsolidation): 32, 31, 34, and 33. I was tank commander of crew 31. I notified Lancer 6 of our departure through the south gate, and then we proceeded north on route AEROS. At the intersection of AEROS and FLORIDA (MB 486904), we continued northwest towards DELTA. As we passed route CHARLIE (MB 475915), my loader, SPC Sanders had completed troubleshooting my company radio, and I received his final "thumbs up" as we were moving northeast up DELTA off of the traffic circle at MB 471919. Lancer 6 then immediately called for a SITREP, and I reported that I currently had four tanks moving north on DELTA. He said, "good", and told us to proceed, so I then I contacted SSG Deaton and told him to continue.
As I finished my transmission, my platoon started to receive extreme small arms and RPG fire. We proceeded north, and I told my loader, SPC Sanders to engage and suppress. He immediately started to lay withering, accurate, and deadly suppressive fire on known and suspected firing positions. Simultaneously, my gunner, SGT Snell, began to engage with coaxial machine gun with killing bursts. SGT Snell was forced to scan and shoot in emergency mode (a degraded and difficult mode of gunnery), due to the fact that the delta p on our tank was not functioning, and normal mode gunnery was impossible. After about 5 devastating bursts from the coaxial machine gun, SGT Snell started getting stoppages, and he began to improvise, firing as much as possible by charging the machine gun and firing it as a single shot weapon. He continued to relay to SPC Sanders and me critical and accurate information of the enemy situation in front of us so that we could accurately engage and/or suppress the enemy in the direction of our travel. Shortly after receiving contact, I was wounded by shrapnel in my left arm, and SPC Sanders was shot in his left shoulder. My .50 caliber machine gun was shot at the top rear of the receiver, cutting the trigger bar in half internally, so I switched to M4 carbine. I knew that I could continue to fight despite my wounds. SPC Sanders denied medical care from SGT Snell repeatedly, which allowed SGT Snell to continue to scan and fight. SPC Sanders assured me that he was all right, and he continued to fight, providing me a second set of eyes on top of the turret and continued, effective suppression of the determined enemy.
At approximately MB 483932, SSG Deaton had turned right (southeast) off of route DELTA onto an unnamed two-lane route. Because he had had communications with the company CP for longer than I had because of my radio issue, I allowed my driver, SPC Rakes, to follow SSG Deaton's tank. On the unnamed route traveling southeast, we were being engaged mainly from the north side of the road, and SGT Snell confirmed to me that we were indeed being engaged by the Iraqi Policemen who were standing behind their vehicles that were parked on the north side of the road. SPC Sanders continued to engage and suppress with deadly efficiency, and SGT Snell continued to scan and operate the coaxial machine gun while in "emergency mode". I then became unsure of where SSG Deaton was going, because I heard another report from the CP that the isolated 2/5 platoon was still north on DELTA. I did not know that SSG Deaton had a KIA on board (SGT Mitchell, acting as his loader), and I repeatedly tried to reach him, but was unsuccessful. SSG Deaton then made a second right turn onto route CHARLIE vic. MB 486927. We proceeded southwest on route CHARLIE, and small arms contact became more sporadic. SSG Deaton stopped his tank at approximately MB 485925, and I called the platoon and informed them that we were going to make another right turn at MB 485926 in an effort to get back onto route DELTA. I expected SSG Deaton to back up and for 34 and 33 to follow my move. After moving northwest for approximately 200 meters, SPC Sanders told me that nobody had followed us. I then thought that the rest of the platoon had decided to backtrack onto the unnamed route that we had originally turned off of DELTA on, so I made another right turn at MB 483928 in an effort to re-link up there. Upon breaking out onto that unnamed route, I could see no sign of my platoon, so I made another right turn onto the unnamed route so that I could look down route CHARLIE and find the tanks that I thought were taking a
longer time because they were turning around. The small arms fire on the unnamed route was still intense, and as we passed route CHARLIE, the tanks were no longer there. SPC Rakes continued to drive southeast on the unnamed route until I had him turn around at a break in the median at approximately MB 490925.
We then moved northwest along the unnamed route in order to return to route DELTA, because my platoon might be there, having heard the same information that I had received. (The platoon had actually begun movement to the intersection of routes AEROS and COPPER vic. MB 505925 in order to perform casevac.) On getting to route DELTA again, the tanks were still not in sight, so we moved northeast along DELTA to search for the stranded platoon as well as to continue to search for the other platoon tanks. Upon turning northeast on DELTA at MB 483932, we started to encounter numerous and elaborate improvised barriers that threatened to impede our travel. SPC Rakes maneuvered the tank under extreme fire in an expert fashion, allowing SGT Snell, SPC Sanders, and me to effectively fight while continuing to scan for the isolated HMMWV platoon (which we now had been told had popped smoke, and were near one of their burning HMMWV's that was left on route DELTA), as well as the other three platoon tanks. I told SGT Snell to concentrate on looking down (northeast) on route DELTA in ten power to try and find tanks, smoke from a smoke grenade, or a burning HMMWV. I told SPC Sanders to look for the same on the routes to the northwest, and I would look on the routes to the southeast. The fighting became even more intense as SPC Sanders and I were fighting armed Iraqis from the top of the turret who were no further than 30 meters away from the tank on both sides as we continued to move. We arrived at the traffic circle at MB 488938 with the large mural on it, and as we passed around it counterclockwise, I continued to ask if any of the crew saw smoke or a burning HMMWV, especially in the vicinity just north of COPPER and DELTA approximately 1000 meters to our northeast. SGT Snell gave the final call by telling me that he could absolutely not see any of the things that we were looking for further down route DELTA.
I then made the decision to continue around the traffic circle in order to turn around and move back south to a major landmark where I knew the rest of the platoon would absolutely be able to find us, and where the rest of the company could easily get to us (The DAC building, MB 473923). Coming around the traffic circle, we continued to engage with all available weapons systems, and SPC Sanders was now engaging with his M4, because his M240 machine gun had stopped reliably firing. Armed Iraqis were running along the street sides, and SPC Sanders and I were often forced to lean out over the sides of the turret to shoot them. Even in single shot degraded mode, SGT Snell was still hitting longer range enemy while moving, and SPC Rakes had avoided numerous significant barriers that could have stopped our travel or made us throw track. While moving southwest on DELTA back from the mural circle, explosions started to hit on all sides of the tank, and I could not tell if they were from RPGs, IEDs, or hand grenades. I then felt more shrapnel hit me in the neck as we moved south, but I knew I could still fight. On the way southeast, I finally resorted to my M9 pistol, as I had run out of 5.56mm ammunition for my carbine. When we had reached a point approximately 300 meters northeast of the DAC, the
enemy firing stopped. We then finally reached the DAC, where SPC Rakes made a U-turn to face northeast so that we could pull security in the direction of the enemy, and SPC Sanders handed me another magazine of 5.56mm ammunition. Crusader 5 then notified me that the platoon was performing casevac at routes AEROS and COPPER with Crusader White platoon. A 4 HMMWV element from 2-5's "Comanche Blue" platoon simultaneously arrived at the DAC, and they dismounted to secure it. I recommended that I keep my tank at the DAC and wait for my platoon to link up there, because I felt that without the additional security that my tank was providing the DAC may be overrun.
Shortly thereafter, Aggressor 6 arrived, and I gave him a brief synopsis of the enemy situation on DELTA. He was immediately followed by Crusader 6 (on his tank) and the simultaneous arrival of Red platoon (with two tanks) with the remainder of my platoon, and we redistributed what little small arms ammunition we had in preparation for the company attack. Crusader 6 mounted my tank, and I also gave him a current SITREP of the enemy situation. After hearing the analysis, he told SPC Sanders to jump on his tank, and he told me to get into my loader's hatch, because he was going to lead the attack from my tank, which had communications with both our company and Lancer battalion. I could hear that Lancer was making every effort that it could to retrieve the isolated platoon, and Captain Moore quickly organized the available tanks into an ad hoc, yet functional combat unit. Then, CPT Moore called Lancer 6 and informed him that he had seven tanks organized and at his disposal, and that he was going to attack to rescue the isolated platoon. Lancer 6 approved, and he directed that we attack directly northeast up route DELTA to eliminate the enemy presence there and rescue the isolated platoon. CPT Moore then immediately laid out the attack plan. He would lead the attack from my tank with crew 31 (my crew). 1LT Fittro (Red [1st] platoon leader) would lead the right side, abreast of the commander's tank, up the east lane of DELTA. The two platoon sergeant's tanks would follow off of the leader's tanks and provide flank security and suppression. The rest of the tanks would follow, as terrain, maneuver space, and situation dictated, providing additional flank and rear security and suppression as needed.
While CPT Moore was communicating with Lancer 6 and giving his guidance, I could see and hear 1LT Fittro's tank observing and engaging enemy to their front with coaxial machine gun and .50 caliber machine gun. After his guidance was given and he had received affirmative responses from the tank commanders, CPT Moore initiated movement, methodically creeping the tanks in a wedge formation. He observed all of the tanks from the open hatch, and coordinated their moves in an alternate bounding fashion, with the west lane tanks forming an improvised section and the right lane tanks being an improvised section. As the left lane tanks started the first bound, with CPT Moore's tank in the lead, the right lane tanks were able to overwatch and destroy the enemy who were forced to react to our movement. After the left section had begun to move, the red tanks on the right (1LT Fittro and SFC Franklin) immediately engaged and destroyed the enemy that were trying to reposition in response to our move. Then they bounded up with us. After the first 50 meters of movement northwest on DELTA, our tank
started to receive light but sustained small arms fire all over our tank. The bullets were audible, with rounds pinging off of the turret as we rolled, but CPT Moore remained out of his hatch the entire time, and I remained out in order to cover his back and keep an eye on my platoon tanks that were to our rear. We continued to bound and engage in this fashion, and CPT Moore and I were often forced to engage near enemy to our front and flanks from the top of the turret with carbines while SGT Snell continued to scan, engage, and report effectively while still operating in emergency mode. SPC Rakes, whose chosen path was dictating the movement of the entire company formation, expertly selected routes that would accommodate a much larger element than his own vehicle. His route selection was a key factor in allowing the company to attack down this highly restricted and difficult route.
SGT Snell, when unable to engage with his coaxial machine gun, was able to talk other tank crews, CPT Moore and me on to enemy who were in the distance and unidentifiable as enemy to the naked eye. Soon, the route became too restrictive to bound effectively, so CPT Moore compressed the formation and maneuvered it as terrain permitted, interlocking weapons systems and fires and making sure not to lose the initiative or attack momentum. While CPT Moore was making frequent SITREPS to Lancer 6, I was able to position my platoon tanks on the left side to help CPT Moore's efforts in maintaining a deadly and impassable moving perimeter around our attack formation. In this formation, SFC Calmes (Blue [3rd] platoon sergeant) was moving with us at our 7 o'clock position, and was effectively covering our left flank, by directing SGT Anthony to shoot down alleyways at enemy as we passed them, and stopping them from getting exposed flank shots at our tanks or track. SSG Deaton had taken SFC Calmes' rear, and he was engaging to the left and rear of the left side of the company formation, open hatch, with himself and PV2 Long (who had replaced SGT Mitchell as his loader during the casevac) also covering and engaging with small arms from the top of the turret, killing and suppressing enemy opportunity targets that presented themselves. SFC Franklin (Red platoon sergeant) was on 1LT Fittro's 5 o'clock, providing the same kind of dominant suppression with coaxial machine gun on the right side that SFC Calmes was providing on the left side, and SGT Jordan, CPT Moore's gunner (who had stepped up to the position of tank commander), was directing his gunner, SPC Zehtab (who had stepped up from loader's position), onto enemy that threatened to envelop the company to the rear, while simultaneously engaging targets himself from the top of the turret with SPC Sanders who had now become his loader.
SGT Jordan's (and his crews') efforts were almost solely responsible for the rear security of the company element as we moved, and they devastated the enemy while performing this task, as CPT Moore, 1LT Fittro and I never had to reapportion coverage to perform this task. SSG Worthington had remained at the DAC to aid the security plan there, and his tank did not join the attack northward. We had been receiving RPG fire during the entire movement, and the closest tank to the firing signature never failed to perform a contact drill and at least suppress the firing location, if not kill the RPG firer. Those who were fighting out of the turret (including CPT Moore, SSG Deaton, SGT Jordan, SPC Sanders, PV2 Long and myself) were doubly able to
engage close-in combatants, and were often the ones who were fast enough to shoot the RPG firers, because they didn't have to wait for the turret to slew while putting or talking the gunners onto the target. Soon, we encountered enemy who had taken fighting positions in key terrain in our path of travel with enough cover that we could not engage them with small arms. CPT Moore identified these targets and then chose to use main gun to engage these enemy. CPT Moore had SGT Snell mark these enemy positions with coaxial machine gun tracer fire to ensure accuracy and minimize collateral damage to the city. SSG Eldridge, who was gunning for 1LT Fittro, expertly placed his shots, which destroyed the enemy on the other side of concrete cover which kept him from directly seeing his intended target.
As we neared the traffic circle at MB488937, the route became even more restricted, and the company was forced to maneuver as a staggered or single column at times. When the company was constricted into a column formation, CPT Moore flexed 1LT Fittro's tank to the lead of the column, because he was able to engage distant targets forward more easily with his .50 caliber M2 which was still functioning, and SSG Eldridge could more easily engage with coaxial machine gun, because he was operating in normal mode, unlike SGT Snell in our tank. For the times when 1LT Fittro's tank was in the lead, SPC Albertson, 1LT Fittro's driver, masterfully navigated the company column through horrendous and elaborate improvised barricades and obstacles, insuring the company would not have to backtrack or lose mobility. We met increasing levels of small arms fire and RPG's around the traffic circle at MB 488937 and northward. I was able to pass back information on the company net about enemy activity on the western side of DELTA in alleys after we had passed them and CPT Moore and I had had an opportunity to shoot down them, while CPT Moore constantly informed Lancer Mike (their CP) of our forward progress and front line trace. The rest of the company's crosstalk was also effective in distributing fires and covering dead spaces, and both the battalion and company nets were a cacophony of voices passing critical information to the elements that needed it. Eventually, at dusk, we had made contact with the isolated element, who signaled to us with a flashing light, and we established a hasty perimeter with the northern front on a major intersection. CPT Moore ordered those who were still buttoned up in their tanks to fight open hatch, in order to facilitate the close quarters maneuver needed to establish the perimeter, and to ensure that enemy infiltration of our perimeter was impossible.
Then, CPT Moore dismounted to link up with the platoon leader of the HMMWV element, and I saw gunfire hit the ground around him. He didn't flinch or break pace as he ran to the two functioning HMMWV's. While CPT Moore was dismounted, I reapportioned the defense to better insure that we had comprehensive 360-degree security. While we were stationary, the small arms fire never ceased, and each tank around the perimeter continued to fight their own intense firefight within the larger context of the company's defense, passing information and turning that block into an impenetrable fortress unassailable on all sides. 2-37 Armor's commander, LTC White, then seemed to magically appear from our south in his tank, and he dismounted under heavy fire to distribute some badly needed ammunition that he had brought
with him to each of our tanks while we were defending. CPT Moore then put four soldiers on our tank, including their KIA, remounted, and started to cue the vehicles for exfiltration. CPT Moore quickly became busy with reporting to Lancer, and readying the company for movement. We had lost the ability to directly communicate with the HMMWV element, so CPT Moore told me to dismount and talk face to face with their platoon leader. I grabbed my carbine and jumped off the tank and ran across DELTA to the two good HMMWV's.
The Lieutenant there wanted to make doubly sure that they weren't going to leave anybody behind, so I ran back to the tanks and made a head count to give to the platoon leader. After I told him the numbers, I then ran back to the tanks and told CPT Moore what caused the delay. After I remounted, CPT Moore became personally interested, and he dismounted another time under heavy fire to absolutely ensure that we were not going to leave any American behind. CPT Moore personally double-checked the tanks and those who were riding in the HMMWV's to make sure that they had everybody. He then came back to the tank and initiated the company exfiltration, collapsing the defense so that each member's departure was overwatched, and then we proceeded northeast on DELTA. During the final rush to SILVER (the northeastern boundary road of Sadr City), CPT Moore regulated the speed of the movement so that we could use speed as an evasive asset, while still moving slowly enough to be aware of our surroundings and effectively engage any present threat. The company had to fight for the entire exfiltration route from the rescue point, northeast on DELTA to SILVER, then southeast on SILVER until we finally got to Camp War Eagle to download, refit, and refuel. Some tanks, like SGT Jordan's and SGT Calmes' further back in the column had to fight while catching up to the lead of the column, because they were assisting HMMWV's that had been so damaged by enemy fire that they were riding on rims or had to be pushed by SGT Jordan's tank. When everybody finally arrived, CPT Moore gave guidance and prioritization for the rearm, refit, and refuel portion of operations, because we weren't done yet. Then he immediately dismounted to report to Lancer 6 and get guidance for follow on missions.
<![CDATA[We still don't rent pigs...]]>Thu, 19 Jan 2017 20:44:45 GMThttp://lancerlegacyranch.com/war-eagle-blog/we-still-dont-rent-pigsPicture
This is my running buddy, the indestructible Ms. Piggy Porkchop.  On this particular day she was running a fever and had quit eating.  My daughter loves this critter so I nearly panicked as I scooped her up and loaded her not inconsiderable quantity of ham into the shotgun position of my small truck.  She didn't complain and just more or less settled in for the trip.  When I arrived at the vet they were still gone to lunch.  Since I didn't get to be my size by skipping a meal, I decided to make use of the time with a quick trip to the local McSquizzle's.  The young girl who took my money didn't even glance up from her register.  My disappointment at her refusal to wish Ms. Piggy good health was tempered by the response from the next window.  "Here's your sandwh- OH MY GAWD YOU'VE GOT A PIG!"  Totally worth throwing my back out to load her up.


The most influential poem during my formative years was written by Rudyard Kipling for his son who was going off to war.  Title 'If', it is the manliest anthem ever penned.  Kipling gives his boy a list of action items to guide him toward the transition from youth to maturity.  If he is able to do these things the paternal promise is, "Then yours is the earth and everything in it. And, which is more, you'll be a man, my son."  I'll not copy it here, google it if you wish, but I would like to include one stanza that has been pounding in my soul these last few months:
​If you can wait, and not be tired by waiting;
​or, being lied about, not give way to lies;
or, being hated, not give way to hating,
nor look too good nor look too wise...

​I know that it has been a while since I updated this website, but I've been waiting.  Many of you can no doubt catch the spiritual overtones in what I write so I'll not mince words.  God told me to wait.  Not in a burning bush voice or fiery letters in the sky, but in the quiet way that He has with people who slow down enough to listen.  You can think me crazy or whatever, but I believe that God wants to communicate directly to each one of us, no priestly connections required.  So, one day while trying to decide what to do about Lancer, whether to quit or change our mission, I heard/felt God say, "wait." 
"How long?" I asked.
"Not long.  I'm getting ready to do something.  You'll know."
​Well, I'm sure by now that I've lost some of you who don't hold to such things.  In a little bit, I hope, I will get to tell you about what happened next.  Something really awesome is in the works here, but I'll have to keep it under wraps for a little while longer.  In the mean time, the ranch is gearing up for spring planting while assisting the Ranch Ministries here in Mt. Pleasant.  The Ranch Ministries works with men addicted to everything you can imagine, and I have been amazed to see what they've been able to do.  I strongly encourage you to follow them on Facebook.
​Many thanks to all of you who have supported the release of my new book Black Knights, Dark Days.  I'll get the first royalty check in June and will put the proceeds toward the ranch endeavors.  It may even be enough to buy a veteran a happy meal!
​Feel free to come by if you're ever in this part of Texas.  I'll keep the coffee on for you.

<![CDATA[Charlie Mike]]>Sun, 14 Aug 2016 15:50:10 GMThttp://lancerlegacyranch.com/war-eagle-blog/charlie-mikePicture
Howdy, folks! It's good to be back.  Where have we been?  Good question which I shall now illuminate in my own inimitable fashion.
​Back in October of last year I got sick.  I haven't said anything about it because I'm not the sort who goes to Facebook every time I have the sniffles or my cat dies or I find out they cancelled Firefly (still sore about that).  I'm uncomfortable with displays of sympathy and would rather endure C-SPAN set to interpretive dance than a moment's pity.

As the months wore on, my condition worsened until I was unable to get off the couch on bad days. April was hard, and May was worse.  By June, I could hardly do anything at all.  Still, the animals needed tending and the garden watered and a hundred other things required to keep both a homestead project and a burgeoning non-profit alive.  My wife really stepped up and Carl, as always, was someone I could depend on.  Ben and his father drove all the way from Washington state to help out with putting up a vital cross fence among other things.  All sides of my family have been in and out helping to care for the young'un and with other chores.  All these special people have kept the dream alive while I heal, and I could never thank them enough. ​Through all of this we have still hosted veterans and their families, attended community veteran functions, assisted veterans in financial crisis and offered counseling for our brothers and sisters suffering from PTSD.  But to be honest, more than once I wanted to quit.  The only thing that kept me going in those moments was the tattoo on my forearm:   SGT Yihjyh "Eddie" Chen. 

​Now before I get any comments or messages asking, "oh, poor snookums, what happened?  Are you okay?", let me assure the community of two things: 1) I'm much better and 2) the mission continues.  This may shock some of you but the VA actually has a really good pulmonologist who was finally able to diagnose and treat me.  And as frustrating as it was, my time in the metaphorical desert was helpful and illuminating.  I had time to reflect on what we've accomplished, where we are and where we need to go.  Spoiler alert - Lancer Legacy Ranch will evolve very shortly into a more efficient and effective tool for helping veterans with PTSD.

1. Every time I am able to share my vision with a group of people, the response is always positive.  The comments all run in the vein of "that's a great thing you're doing there", "really great concept", "good idea" and so on.  What has confounded me is if it's such a great idea, why haven't more veterans availed themselves of our program?  Since we've started, our average has been about 5 veterans a month coming out to stay for a weekend.  Only two have showed an interest in staying long term.  One of those was lying about his service record, and the other dropped out when he realized that I was serious about not smoking pot on the ranch. Even among my old unit, getting anyone to come out and visit proved to be far more difficult than I thought.  There are a few reasons for that. Chief among them is the fact that we are out in the boonies which requires hours of travel for just about everyone.  Few have that kind of time with competing demands from family, work and the like. 
​So I have to ask myself, even though this is a great concept, if I'm not actually helping the people I set out to help with it, what good am I doing?
​2. The concept of LLR as a community for combat veterans and their families is an end-state.  By that I mean it would be the realization and culmination of years of work and labor that resulted from the success of a thousand smaller goals and projects.  Upon reflection I realized that the goals I set for completing the ranch were unrealistic given the limitations of personnel and finances.
​3.  No one can do this on their own.  At least three people are needed to perform this mission.  Five would be better.
​4.  Which brings me to the biggest lesson I have learned in the past year and a half.  This is not my vision.  This is a vision that God gave me, a work that He wants to do with me joining in.  All this time, I've had it backwards.  I tried doing this all in my own power: planning, resourcing, networking, counseling, laboring.  In so many ways I have come up short.  It occurs to me now that perhaps God was trying to reveal how much of my ego was tied up in this. Clearly, if I am able to accomplish this in my own power with my own intellect and strength, then who deserves the praise?  And honestly, I think that's what I wanted. Like King Nebuchadnezzer standing above the Hanging Gardens of Babylon saying, "look what my hands have wrought."  So I am thankful that God has pulled me back from that. I feel like He is saying to me now that I need to relax, listen and watch.  He is about to do something awesome with this place.  If I will just get out of the way.

​So stay tuned, everybody.  We will release the details of Lancer Legacy 2.0 by the end of September.  I can tell you that LLR will not contain a residential component.  That will be outsourced to the Valhalla Project, our partners in Arkansas.  I can also tell you that LLR will be unapologetically faith-based. If you are uncomfortable with either of these changes and would like to withdraw your support, I completely understand.  If you have contributed financially to our cause since January and would like a refund, I will be happy to accommodate you.  Please email me with these concerns directly at j.matthew.fisk@outlook.com.

<![CDATA[January 2016]]>Sun, 21 Feb 2016 16:50:01 GMThttp://lancerlegacyranch.com/war-eagle-blog/january-2016Picture
The picture on the left is a view of what we see every time we leave the ranch.  It reminds me that although I've left the battle field behind I still go to war every day.  I mean this both figuratively and literally.  In one sense I personally believe that the forces of light and darkness struggle continually for the souls of mankind.  You may think that to be hogwash, but I'm sure that you would recognize a conflict of sorts within your own mind.  We face daily choices to do either the wrong thing that is easier or feels better or to make the right decision at great personal cost.  In the Army we called this value integrity.  An example would be choosing between hating someone who has hurt you or deciding instead to forgive that person.

A veteran with PTSD carries this fight daily along with another.  They relive the very thing that caused their symptoms daily.  Each and every time they see a trash bag on the side of the road that could conceal an Improvised Explosive Device, or spot a construction worker on a roof that could be a sniper, or any number of other triggers the veteran is transported in time back to an event in their past which seems more real than life around them.  If the veteran does not find his way back to the hear and now they can become lost in themselves.  Eventually they will despair in such a spiral of constant terror and opt out.  They lose the fight.  So every time I leave the ranch I like to see this sign to remind me that I'm still a warrior in the most important fight of my life.  Both for myself and every veteran out there still struggling. 

This January was extremely productive.  Our guest RV stayed full the entire month with a steady parade of civilian volunteers and former comrades stopping by to visit.  We were able to get our perimeter fence completed which will allow us to use the USDA's cross fence initiative to pay for our controlled grazing plan.  Chief talked me out adding any new animals to the herd until spring.  We're looking to get rabbits and a couple of baby calves and maybe a pig (though we STILL won't rent it).  I began taking the Master Gardener's course at the Texas A&M Agri extension and absolutely love it.  Our ultimate goal is to become self sufficient and teach others how to do the same so gaining expertise is absolutely vital to that outcome.

We would like to thank you for your continued support of this mission.  If you would like to know what we need or how you can contribute your skills, please check out the page titled Impact.  Perhaps you would like to sponsor a particular animal's care or you have experience in construction that would be helpful.  You can always designate your gift for a particular project.  And as always if you want to stop by and visit, just give us a call!

<![CDATA[December, Transparency]]>Sun, 21 Feb 2016 02:33:08 GMThttp://lancerlegacyranch.com/war-eagle-blog/december-transparency
We’ve heard much over the last decade about transparency as it pertains to politics and government.  It is a high-sounding, noble aspiration that those in power utter when they wish to give the appearance of responsibility without the nuisance of true accountability.  The unfortunate consequence of using a word too often that does not fit is that it robs the entire concept of its meaning.  We now no longer believe anything that our government tells us because we have been lied to for so long.  This pessimism permeates other areas of our lives as well poisoning even our most cherished relationships as we expect yet again to be deceived.  The only antidote, I believe, is truth.  So, in the spirit of true accountability allow me to begin to reclaim that word ‘transparency’ by giving you an unfettered glimpse into our organization’s financial state.  I want you to know what we’re making, where it’s coming from and where it’s going.  So if numbers make you yawn, go ahead and skip to January, because this next bit will bore you more than a C-SPAN round table discussion.

First of all, let me begin by saying that the vast amount of our bills are paid by two or three of us in the board of directors.  We are all 100% disabled and are using our disability checks to fund what we do.  I won’t tell you who gives what because it would seem bragidocious.  Jesus said when you give don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.  As it happens, this is very easy for me to do.  My mild TBI often leaves me in that state where I’m not sure what in the hell I was doing five minutes ago.  My right hand is pretty sure that my left hand is a buffoon and will have nothing to do with it anyway.  This has been largely true my whole life and was the major reason why I never played high school sports.  I digress. 

If you’ve kept up with the news lately you may have noticed that Wounded Warrior Project has been under fire lately for how much they pay their top executives and other things.  Personally I think that’s their business.  It’s perfectly legal for a nonprofit to pay employees a salary commensurate with a similar position in the profit-based market.  In fact, I would like to get to the point that we are able to pay our staff a modest wage as well as offer a stipend to residents.  That is a long way off, however, and we are content.

So, if we don’t have enough coming in from outside sources and nobody is getting paid diddly squat, what ARE you making and where is it going?  Good question.  From last January until the end of December we received a grand total of $11,866 in cash donations.  Wow!  The generosity that you all have displayed is humbling and inspiring.  My good friends and mentors with UBS financial, gave $1000.  The father of my former executive officer gave $3000.  The Abatix Corporation raised $2000 in a golf tournament.  The Texarkana VFW raised $1750 with an auction and bake sale.  My best friend since high school gave $500.  Many more people gave according to ability.  We thank all of you for your trust and support.  We currently have over $4500 in our business account that will help pay the light bill, buy construction supplies, feed our livestock and so forth.  During the past year we spent a total of $6512.79.  Here’s where it went:

The pond.  We paid Roland Nicholson, a local earthmover, to put in the ‘pool’ that is 12 feet and 80 feet across for only $3000.

We provided $1100 in financial assistance to veterans were in need.

Every April 4th, the Lancer community takes a knee to remember our brothers who fell during the Battle of Black Sunday.  This year we paid $774.60 for plane tickets, hotel accommodations and food for several in attendance.

I commissioned two brochures from a talented graphic designer to the tune of $750.  This will enable us to present our plan professionally to potential donors.

Given the rise of the Islamic State and the fact that many of our group have played roughly with their affiliates in the past, we thought it prudent to upgrade our security.  Night vision camera system: $552.38.  The look on Jihad John’s face when he realizes we has made it onto the property of combat veterans with a night vision camera system: priceless.

Livestock feed and admin supplies:  $200.81

Yep, that was every bit as exciting as promised, but I hope that our transparency is well received.  We would be glad to show you around the place if you ever make it out this way.  For security reasons, we don’t list our physical address.  If you want to visit just call our number and I’ll tell you how to get here.  Until then, thank you, my friend, for making this a great year.

<![CDATA[November, Honoring those who Served]]>Fri, 22 Jan 2016 21:30:03 GMThttp://lancerlegacyranch.com/war-eagle-blog/november-honoring-those-who-servedPicture
Sometimes I must admit to feeling a bit sorry for the civilian.  If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then veterans are from Krypton and civilians are from Planet Hollywood.  I don't mean that in the sense that veterans are superior (although they are kind of a big deal, to quote Anchorman).  It's just that we see the world through two totally different lenses and speak a nigh-foreign tongue.  "Hooah", for example, is a wonderfully multi-tasking word absent from non-veteran vocabulary.  In the Marine dialect it's pronounced "Hoorah".   The Navy says "Booyah".  The Airforce says "Gosh, that's awesome, Dave!"  I sometimes poke fun at my AF buddies by praising their merit badges and asking when they will officially be recognized as a branch of the military.  To be fair, I'm often asked by my Marine friends when the Army is going to get a real fitness test.  I smile and point out a shiny object to distract them.  I would joke on the Navy, but my wife's father scares me.  Also, I had my Carpal Tunnel fixed by a very nice Navy Commander named Deborah who's adam's apple was barely noticeable.

That being said, there is something you should know about veterans from the current wars:  they don't like being praised for their service.  Not all, but the vast majority with whom  I've spoken.  While I don't quite share that sentiment, I almost do and understand, perhaps, the source of their unease.  Our wounds are still raw, so to speak.  We haven't quite come to grips with the complicated feelings that come after having done some of the awful things we've had to do.  So when someone thanks us for having served our country, we feel uncomfortable being praised while simultaneously feeling unresolved guilt.  At least that's my take on it.  If you want my advice, look for the guys with the Vietnam ball caps and thank them.  Those guys didn't have a sweet old lady welcoming them with a hug at the airport when they returned home.

Our efforts at the ranch this month were very much focused around Veteran's Day.  We were invited to attend the Veteran's Appreciation Day at the Mt. Vernon Methodist Church.  This event was put on by Marine veteran Bob Kerr, a staunch ally of LLR, and it was a sight to behold!  I did not expect a standing room only event in a huge auditorium.  Veterans from every war since WWII packed the place.  It was humbling to stand among these great Americans.

The Titus Veteran Service Officer, Steve Austin, invited us to attend a plaque dedication on the town square followed by a Veteran's Day lunch at P.E. Wallace elementary school.  We stood in the rain, listening to the dedication speech and then the bugler playing Taps.  What a beautiful, horrible song.  I was equally touched by the lunch event at the grade school.  We were met at the door by ten year old greeters who directed us to the lunch room for banquet style eating.  The young students, dressed in uniforms from various historical periods, waited on us with minimal adult supervision.  In an age where I wonder what our future holds, this school stands like a light in the darkness.  I left the event proud of their sense of civic duty.  Well done, P.E. Wallace!

Our friends at Texarkana VFW Post 4562 have adopted us as their veteran charity for the year!  To kick it off they put on a benefit BBQ and auction.  These folks not only showed us a great time, but also managed to get our picture in the local paper.  This led to a local news channel doing a great story on our cause and raising awareness of our mission in the community.  You can watch the show by clicking on the link above.

Thanksgiving was a lot of fun this year.  We were privileged to have a couple of Navy veterans over for lunch to share in our bounty.   And by bounty I mean fried turkey.  If you've never had the national bird runner-up prepared in this way go ahead and knock out pushups until I get tired.  Friend, goest thou unto the nearest merchant and purchaseth for thyself, yea and thy family with thee, a turykey fryer forthwith.  You will be so glad you did!  Provided that you don't burn your house down or unintentionally scald your family pet.  On second thought, don't.  Can't have that on my conscience.

<![CDATA[October, New Friends and Old Horses]]>Fri, 04 Dec 2015 12:26:25 GMThttp://lancerlegacyranch.com/war-eagle-blog/october-new-friends-and-old-horsesPicture
This picture sums up my attitude toward the ranch: the day is just getting started!

Buoyed by the outpouring of support from friends old and new, October was by far the best we've had so far.  We were able to help more people, get more projects accomplished, raise more funds due to the generosity of spirit contained within this community.  Thank you one and all!

In order to make a short story longer I suppose I should begin with the horses.  One of the first relationships I formed here in Mt.Pleasant was with the Titus County Veteran Service Officer, Steve Austin.  He introduced me to Ryon Cox, the previous year's FFA president for the state of Texas.  Ryon took me by the hand and drug me down to meet Dr. Robinson, the local large animal veterinarian.  The meeting was bitter sweet as I enjoyed meeting the staff but was subjected to the process of gathering a semen sample from a bull.  And I thought veterans were screwed up! What is wrong with veterinarians?  Well, Ryon went back to Texas A&M and I put it out of my mind.   Then I get a call from Mr. McCourt, a total stranger, who asks me if I would like a registered quarterhorse.  As it turns out he was a client of Dr. Robinson who mentioned our project to him.  I thought about if for a second and said yes before I was done thinking.  If I had thought longer I might have wondered what the catch was.  It was Mystery as it turned out.  You see, Sadie, the most beautiful horse I have ever seen, came contingent with baggage.  Namely a five year old, half blind, full crazy pony named Mystery.  Not sure where the name came from unless they were baffled at why the little scamp likes to bite so danged much. 

Well, we finally finished the fence in September to contain the critters and, with the help and guidance of a vet from west Texas, successfully transferred both horses.  Successful in this context does not mean without pain, struggle, sweat and tears.  But they seemed to like the new digs.  The goats didn't know what to think about them at first, but once they decided that they were harmless the goats went back to deciding how next to break out and which of my wife's remaining plants they were going to eat when they did.  I've enjoyed integrating the new animals into the daily routine.  Sadie knows when I'm coming to feed and always paws at the ground until I give up the goods.  Mystery was redesignated as Blue after the cataract on his right eye.  He likes to break the monotony by alternating between nipping the back of my arm or one of his adorable kungfu kicks to my shin. 

In other news we began putting the siding inside the cabin.  We had wanted to use recycled pallet boards and cast our net about looking for the cheapest source.  By good fortune we found a pallet factory less than ten miles away.  While their pallets were a little more expensive than I thought, they agreed to sell us the pre-assembled pallet boards at a ridiculously low cost, oak no less.  Not only did this save money, but also the time it would take us to pull the pallets apart.  Hooah!  One of our guests led the project, advising us to use a ship-lap style which I enjoy.  It really gives that rustic, manly ambiance, if I can combine those two words without so much irony.

Toward the end of the month we were finally able to get started on the pond installation.  This will serve as a central feature in our permaculture design by providing livestock water, controlling the movement of water across the property, another source of food through fish and plantings as well as a great recreational asset.  The work was done for a pittance by Mr. Roland Nicholson and company.  His team was able to craft a fine "pool" as they call it in these parts with hardly a second to spare before the autumn rains began.

I've been trying to decide how to talk about the veterans we serve since we began this mission.  In previous posts I've referred to our guests by code names to protect their privacy.  On the one hand, we're not dancing monkeys to be paraded before the general public, but on the other hand I'm sure the portions of the public inclined to support this endeavor would like to know that their donations are going to the aforementioned former service members and not toward pot and loose women.  My hesitance stems further from the knowledge that not every interaction will be entirely positive.  Veterans with PTSD are likely to have a host of ancillary symptoms that create as much drama as the PTS itself, such as drinking, drug use and uncontrollable rage.  I can tell you from experience that when you finally confront the problem head on you feel ten times worse until you achieve a breakthrough.  That's why we tend toward avoidance strategies.  A vet may come here looking for help but leave in anger before healing can take root.  We've had one such case already and I'm sure there will be more.  It would be enlightening to discuss the event in detail as there is so much more to be learned from struggle than triumph, but I think it better to protect the individual's privacy.  In any case, I've learned that one person may till the ground, another may plant and still someone else may harvest.  I recognize that recovery is a journey and that we are only one step in the veteran's path.

<![CDATA[September, Semper Fidelis]]>Thu, 12 Nov 2015 00:12:52 GMThttp://lancerlegacyranch.com/war-eagle-blog/september-semper-fidelisPicture
"Jeremy was born on September 6, 1983 and passed away on Friday, September 4, 2015.  Jeremy was a resident of Midland, Texas at the time of his passing.  Jeremy graduated from Midland High School in 2002.  He was married to Patricia. Visitation for Jeremy will be Friday September 11th from 9:00am - 3:00pm at Lewallen-Garcia-Pipkin Chapel. He will then be moved to Crestview Baptist Church for a visitation on Friday September 11th from 4:00pm - 9:00pm with a Celebration of Life at 7:00pm also at the church. Funeral service is set for Saturday September 12th at 10:00am at Crestview Baptist Church. Burial will follow at Fairview Cemetery."

Jeremy, the Marine pictured on the left, lost the battle to PTSD after years of struggle.  His brother, Ray, died in 2004 while attempting to rescue my platoon.  The Arsiaga family paid a very high price for their patriotism and valor.  In a very real sense, their sacrifice is the reason why we are able to do what we do.  Chief and I would both have died in a stinking alley in a stinking country over a decade ago had they not drawn the heat of the ambush off of us and onto themselves.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about that.

So when I found out early this month that Jeremy had died I felt such a profound sense of loss for a man I hardly knew on behalf of his twice bereaved family.  I'm sure that we were all asking ourselves the same questions.  Why? What did I miss?  Could I have done something to prevent it? 

While we tried to process this tragic loss of life and waited to find out when the funeral would be, life continued at the ranch.  We hosted a volunteer from Louisiana who wanted to help with construction and generally get dirty for the weekend.  She managed to get the floors of the cabin done as well as a few other important tasks.  We love it when people want to jump in and lend a hand.  I really feel it important for the recovery of a veteran with PTSD that he or she reconnect with the community, though that particular endstate may take longer with some.  Our culture lacks any kind of ritual or custom for welcoming warriors back into society.  The veteran feels cut off from themselves, from family and friends, from 'normal' people, and from the pursuit of spiritual truth.  In that isolation he or she is more vulnerable to the stinging repercussions of guilt, excess, self-medication, unchecked rage and a host of behaviors that leave destruction in their wake.  Even as we attempted, and frankly failed horribly, to build a bridge between ourselves and a very selfless volunteer who served as a stand-in for polite society the questions surrounding Jeremy's death haunted me.  I felt that I was once again drifting away into the comfort of isolation where all you have is yourself to let down.

Jeremy's memorial service was to be held on 9/11 in west Texas.  That same morning a golf tournament was being held in McKinney to benefit the ranch.  I stopped by on my way to the service to show my appreciation for what Abatix and LCR were doing for us.  LCR is a company owned by the father of former Charlie 2/5 Executive Officer Clay Spicer.  Back in the day this man showed me a large measure of grace by reminding me gently to maintain my humanity in the face of adversity.  Long story, but suffice it to say that he's my hero.  I was privileged to pal around with Clay, Derrick (another former Cav guy) and two other veterans who played some formidable golf.  They even let me hit a ball...which promptly sliced a sharp 90 degree turn and slammed into a patio window.  Oops.

Later that evening, after a long drive that was excellent for clearing the mind, I arrived only a few minutes late to the memorial service.  It would have been easier if I had missed it.  The magnitude of the family's loss exploded across the church with several hundred in attendance.  Such pain and sorrow and loss.   Hardest of all was listening to the man's children talk about him with such affection, longing and questions that will remain for years to come.

To my surprise and delight I ran into another former Lancer, an excellent NCO who had been seriously wounded during our first firefight and had subsequently left the service.  He had been one of the most competent guys in our company, the go-to guy for the young soldiers.  We caught up with each other and I could tell that he was struggling.  He said that he was in limbo, trying to find answers and direction.  I told him about our mission and encouraged him to come hang out with us.   In that moment I was struck how we had naturally leaned into each other for help.  Two old soldiers hauling each other out of the fire once again.

I returned to the ranch the next evening and continued to muddle on though I must confess that my mind was anywhere except where it needed to be.  Chief and I continued to work on building a fence in the cool morning hours and then on the cabin when the heat came.  The ground had baked into an impermeable porcelain from the heat and lack of rain.  Our tractor-powered posthole auger could barely penetrate the earth.   We would dig six inches, fill the hole with water, and wait for the next six inches to soften up.

Honestly, I was glad for the labor.  Anything to take my mind off Jeremy.  I didn't feel much like talking to anyone, almost like I did for those many years when my PTSD was at its worst.  Many times I considered quitting.  Losing like this, even though I knew academically that there was nothing that could have been done, dealt me a blow that I was slow to get up from.

It was about that time that I got a message from Arsiaga's sister.  She said that her family had decided to start a movement to raise awareness about veteran suicide.  A local news station had hear about it and had asked to do a story about the family.  Angel wanted my permission to mention the ranch and asked for a short write up.  I was all too glad to provide it all the while feeling deeply shamed by their family's faith and perseverance.

The next day I got a call from a man who described himself as a Marine (they're never 'former') from the first Gulf War.  To make a long story only marginally shorter he said that he felt that he was at the end of his rope and needed a place to get away for a bit with people who "get it".  Wow.  Like that I was back in business.  Thanks, Jeremy.  Tell your brother I said, "hooah!"

<![CDATA[August 24-31, Strange Times, UFO's and Tinfoil Hats]]>Sun, 25 Oct 2015 01:19:54 GMThttp://lancerlegacyranch.com/war-eagle-blog/august-24-31-strange-times-ufos-and-tinfoil-hatsPicture
You heard it here first, folks.  The ranch has had a close encounter!  But it's actually an IFO since we know what it was.  The Goodyear Blimp gave us a flyby this week on its way presumably to the Dallas game.  I'm told that Cowboy's practice was halted this week when a white powdery substance was found on the field.  Forensic testing confirmed that it was the goal line.  The team was told not to worry as it is unlikely that they will encounter the substance again this year.

Jokes plaigerized from Facebook aside, we've had a pretty good week.  Chief and I got an actual, no-kidding ceiling installed inside the cabin, almost as if we knew what we were doing.  We used a camo-print OSB and a metric crapload of brad nails.  We also got the bedroom prepped for the floating wood floor installation.  I'm extremely frustrated with the slow pace, but that's what happens when you get two 100% disabled vets to do the work. 

We finally had our carport assembled and promptly filled it with some of the hay we baled this summer.  When the rains come, we are ready!  Now if they would only get here.  It's been drier than my sense of humor these past few weeks, underscoring the need for us to implement Permaculture protocols with a quickness.  The key to making the Permaculture system work is water.  In addition to using rain barrels to catch and repurpose storm runoff, we will be installing multiple ponds (called pools in this area), berms and terrain features designed to slow the movement of water across our land and create an H2O surplus even in the driest of times.  Like this year.  Hard to believe that we were complaining about the floods of May and June.

We witnessed first hand another principle of Permaculture this week.  We planted squash earlier this year and just left everything to decay when the fruit had been harvested.  No more watering, no more weeding, no more fussing over a plant that had outlived its purpose.  The wife pointed out to me that the heritage seeds that had gone back to the earth from a neglected squash had rooted and was producing again.  All without any work from us.  Permaculture Principle: create favorable conditions for life and sit back while life does what it does best.

I had previously mentioned how grateful we are for your continued financial support.  We take your trust very seriously and do not spend money frivolously.  I grew up with very little though I never knew it; a loving family makes a person feel rich as a king.  But I did learn how to pinch a penny and squeeze out a nickel, a useful skill in this calling.  I've been in need of fill dirt for various projects but have been reluctant to let go of the $80-$120 per load until it became a crisis.  This week, however, it rained pennies from heaven.  The county was cleaning out the ditches and hauling off the dirt.  I stopped the truck driver and told him that they were welcome to  put it on our property.   Before the day was out we had $1500 worth of good dirt for free!  It's going to be a little more work screening out the trash, but opportunities await those who are willing to put in a few extra pints of sweat.  Ok, that's gross but still true.

We have a lot of exciting developments in the wings but I can't get into the details just yet.  Suffice it to say that we are being blessed beyond what we deserve.  As we approach the end of our fiscal year at the end of September and our first three months on the ranch I would like to thank all of you have been so encouraging in your support of this mission!

<![CDATA[August 17-23, The Goat Whisperer]]>Sun, 25 Oct 2015 01:19:32 GMThttp://lancerlegacyranch.com/war-eagle-blog/august-17-23-the-goat-whispererPicture
This week we had a visit from a dark and mysterious stranger from the far South.  To protect the innocent we'll call him 'Joe', codename 'Boomer'.  If I might tangent for a moment, it has occurred to me to file a class action lawsuit against Hasbro for my PTSD.  At the tender age of 8 I was unwittingly exposed to a hazardous level of the action figure known as GI Joe.  Soldiers with beards and machine guns and codenames, what chance did a boy have?  And then came the kungfu action grip?  Get out of here!  When I arrived at basic training I asked the Drill Sergeant when I would be assigned my codename.  He surprised me by giving me one on the spot though I found it tasteless and frankly illegal to mention in most southern states.

Anyway, Boomer turned out to be quite handy with our continuing effort to ready the cabin for business.  He, Chief and I made short work of insulating the roof.  What an amazing difference that simple task made in the comfort level of the cabin!  Now we can continue to build with a reduced risk of heat stroke.  If you've never worked with insulation, let me give you some advice that will set you up for success:  let someone else do it.  Pay a professional, bribe a friend with beer or coerce your children with threats of that timeless game 'Biodome' (hint: it involves a sheet and a can of beans) lest you desire to itch for a week after.  We also managed to finish the tile floor in the bathroom so, all in all, a very productive week.  Not to mention the therapeutic  value of spending time with a former brother-in-arms.

Now, we've had a lot of requests for updates on the status of the baby goats so I'll tell you a quick story.  I pride myself in possessing a certain amount of empathy with the animal kingdom.  Though I wouldn't go so far as to take on the title of Beastmaster, I've always gotten on well with cats and dogs.  My mom's bias against the goat kingdom notwithstanding, I really hoped to bond with the wee kids.  Chief and I were the first ones to hold them when they were only minutes old.  As it turned out that would be the last time that we were quick enough to grab them.  The little ingrates stubbornly refused our advances as though we were hungry velociraptors.  Set aside for a moment the fact that we DO intend to eat them at some distant point in the future, their English is horrible and they should in theory have no idea about our schemes.  Their reticence is the primary reason why it took us so long to figure out that we had improperly named one of them.  We thought we had two boys and a girl and therefore developed a naming convention based on the Lonesome Dove series.  Augustus, Call and Maggie.  Enter the Goat Whisperer.

Boomer entered the goat pen for the first time and sat on our mineral block feeder.  He held his hand out and I'll be dipped in snuff if two of the kids weren't practically crawling in his lap!  He looked like a really scary Snow White at home among the forest creatures.  It must have been the Goatee.  Anyway, it turned out that Augustus was actually a girl, hence the name-change to Caitlyn.

All jokes aside we would like to thank Arthur and Anita for their generous contribution of $1000 with a matching grant from their employer soon to follow!  We are humbled by their trust and will strive to prove ourselves worthy.  We've had a number of cash donations of $20 to $500 recently which never fails to choke me up.  You guys are the best!  We have a standing invitation to anyone that wants to see how the money is being spent to come visit.  For security reasons we do not broadcast our physical address on social media.Just get in touch with me via email to set up an appointment at j.matthew.fisk@outlook.com