AMELIA, Ohio — Biscuit and Breken are best friends and have been since the day they met a year ago.
That’s when Breken first stepped hoof on the grounds of Foreverland Farm Sanctuary.
The white donkey, a veteran of the farm, arrived at the sanctuary with severely overgrown hooves and the blue-eyed, multi-colored goat, who was born with a crooked spine, instantly gravitated towards each other.
Breken, who was also born with terminal heart defects, was small and skittish around the other animals but Biscuit provided shelter, underneath his sturdy belly for feeding time at the trough, keeping others at bay while the tiny goat had his meal.
And even today, the taller Biscuit pulls down tree limbs for his shorter pal, Breken, to eat.
Together, they are living out their best lives side by side on the farm.
That duo with a forever bond are not unlike many of the animals living there.
They all have a name.
They all have a story.
They all have a past.
But because of Foreverland Farm Sanctuary, they also have a future.
And the farm’s own future and vision has not diminished amid the pandemic.
While COVID-19 has put a strain on the farm sanctuary’s finances, the toll of the pandemic has not veered Brittney Kane, the farm's founder and executive director, from her dream of the possibility of expanding the nonprofit in 2021.
Kane hopes to save more animals, specifically farm animals, who have been abused, abandoned or discarded.
“We take in animals, at the end of the line that really don't have another place to go, animals that have really big medical needs that regular people or farms can't really accommodate, because it takes so much time and money. We think that they deserve a quality of life. So, we're gonna provide that for them,” Kane said.
And just like the animals' sanctuary will persevere through the pandemic and upcoming wintry months, Kane’s mission is also to share their own stories of perseverance and survival that she has witnessed first-hand over the three years since they opened their barn doors.
Biscuit and Breken have been best buds since they arrived at Foreverland Farm Sanctuary. (Jessica Noll / Spectrum News)
Tucked just off the road, along Lindale Mount Holly Road in Amelia, you might miss the modest white barn on a six-acre farm if you blink.
While in the company of a handful of other small farms along the rural, yet residential route, Foreverland Farm Sanctuary is different.
Much like the famed annual T.V. claymation Christmas tale, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and its portrayal of the land of misfit toys, you might consider Foreverland Farm Sanctuary as the farm of misfit animals.
It's home to a one-eyed chicken, one-eyed horse and a three-legged goat named Champion — named after the three-legged dog on “Parks and Rec,” and more than 70 other animals need a safe space to be themselves and live a life that is free from harm, Kane said.
In fact, the farm is home to 10 special needs animals, including eight chickens who suffer from anything from splayed legs to requiring special diets.
But it isn’t a farm of misfits.
It’s a farm full of kind, resilient, forgiving animals, who greet any guest to the farm like family.
Whether it’s a sniff in your ear, a kiss on your hand or cheek, or just trying to eat your hat as you take a quick photograph of them, they just want love, attention and a place to call home — and that is what Foreverland Farm Sanctuary is for them.
"I think that the most important thing for people to know is that their lives have value,” Kane said. "And if you have an opportunity to meet the animals or hear their stories ... it opens up a whole new world of understanding for them, compassion towards them — just seeing what they've been through and how they can now have a good life. And I think that's really important, just making a connection with them. And they are so resilient and so trusting (and) just so willing to be friendly and loved on."
Foreverland Farm, which opened as a nonprofit in February 2018, gives farm animals a second chance at life, Kane said.
In fact, their slogan is: “Saving the world one animal at a time.”
Safe Space for 'Overlooked' Farm Animals
Her dream all started nearly nine years ago, when Kane adopted Booger in 2012. Now, Booger and five other horses are housed in a nearby stable up the road, where Foreverland Farm rents stables.
Brittney Kane, 34, a full-time therapist, runs the farm with her wife, Leann Kane, a 30-year-old social worker. It was their goal to help heal farm animals through rescue, compassion and education, after living a life of neglect.
"We knew that we wanted to start an animal sanctuary because we recognize the plight of farm animals. There's a lot of dog and cat rescues out there — not enough, there's never enough — but there are resources for dogs and cats. But when it comes to farm animals, there's nowhere for them to go, and they're so overlooked most of the time,” Brittney said.
"That's why we share their stories. You get to meet them and see that they have personalities to make that connection between like, ‘OK, this is a real animal with a real personality, just like my dog at home.’ So, that's one component of our rescue — our main focus is to have a safe space for the animals to be themselves, because they do have personalities,” Brittney said. "
They want to live. They want to have a good quality of life, just like a companion animal at home, like your dog and cat.
They want connection with their friend. They want connection with you, as their caretaker."