Diana Scarborough scanned the large, fenced space, shielding her eyes from the sun.
“Here they come,” she said, a smile spreading across her face.
One by one, horses emerged from the tree line, trotting up to greet Scarborough and some of the other volunteers at The Farm at Oatland North on St. Simons Island. They all know each animal and their stories, many of which are difficult to hear.
All of the animals found in the sanctuary, tucked in the woods off Lawrence Road on St. Simons Island, were mistreated in their former lives. But these days, they are living well.
That was the mission of the Farm’s founder, Barbara Murrah. She established the 501c3 in 2012 on land that her grandfather purchased in the 1940s. Originally, the site was Oatland Plantation.
“This place has been a riding stable. It was once Cannon’s Point riding stable,” she said. “But they eventually transitioned this to an animal rescue center.”
Murrah and her family started the rescue with her first horse, Lightening. Over the years, they continued adding animals — cows, goats and cats. Some came from abusive situations or simply stables that closed.
Scarborough met Murrah while they were working as nurses at the hospital and the two women became fast friends.
“Barbara was a really special person. She loved animals. Barbara’s mission was to keep the animals happy,” she said.
Murrah passed away after a brief battle with cancer but Scarborough and an army of volunteers are dedicated to carrying on her work.
“I really can’t talk too much about her without crying. Both of us had a passion for animals. We’re both nurses. We became really good friends,” she said. “We try to keep all of the animals healthy and happy ... and just make sure they have a happy life.”
That certainly seems to be the case these days. The facility is home to a number of animals who enjoy spending their days interacting with one another. Some have even formed deep bonds, Scarborough adds.
“This is Brugge and his girlfriend Cheyenne,” she said, feeding the horse a treat. “Cheyenne was a therapy horse and she wasn’t very old when they discovered that she has a heart condition. They were going to put her down but we got her. Her medicine is very affordable and now she’s doing well.”
That is the focus of The Farm. Of course, in order to carry on the organization needs to generate funds. Donors often give monetary gifts throughout the year but a number of events also buoy the group’s coffers. One such occasion is right around the corner. A Barn Dance for the Farm will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Bennie’s Red Barn on St. Simons Island. A $20 admission gets attendees in the door, access to a barbecue buffet, entertainment, auctions, raffles and prizes.
“We will also have a square dancing lesson. It’s just going to be a lot of fun,” Scarborough said. “And of course, we could use the money ... we don’t spend much on the facilities, the barn and things. We refurbish and reuse wood and everything we have really. We have mission groups who come in the summer and do some painting and things like that. But all the money goes to take care of the animals which is the most important thing.”