HODGES — Panic set in Monday afternoon when Mary Moss went to draw water from her well, but water merely trickled out from the hose.
Power had just been restored following an outage Monday, and Moss, owner of Big Oaks Rescue Farm, said that’s when she realized nothing was coming up from the well.
“I went to put water in the barn, the whole barn was without water,” she said. “I went to cut the hosepipe on and it just went trickle, trickle.”
About six gallons of water were used to try and prime the pump in the well, but she, her family and those helping her couldn’t get the pump running. Every day, the farm uses about 1,200 gallons of water. They have an average of 50-60 horses at any given time, along with cows, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens and dogs — providing fresh, clean water is essential to running the rescue farm.
With help from volunteers with Oaks Recovery Center, Moss said they hauled buckets of water Monday afternoon and evening from emergency tanks nearby to the troughs.
“I told them, OK, this is nitroglycerin we’re carrying,” she said with a laugh. “We are not spilling a drop.”
In the morning, with the pump still not working, Moss called for help from local firefighters. County volunteer firefighters have loaned her a hand before, like in June when sweltering heat and a dry spell coupled with trouble with the farm’s water pump created demand for water. This time, firefighters from the Hodges/Cokesbury Fire Department came out to fill the troughs and volunteer their time and water.
“For me, it’s a community thing,” said fire department President Jorge Jones, who was joined by Justin Fricks at Big Oaks. “We do first response calls, we do wreck calls, of course we do fires — any way we can support our community, we’ll do it because they support us so well.”
With some help from Warner’s Pump Services, Moss had a part replaced in her well pump and water was flowing again before 11 a.m. The ordeal highlighted for her the importance of people coming together for the purpose of saving these often neglected, abandoned or abused animals.
“Knowing that if I get in trouble with my water, I know the fire department is going to be there to answer my call,” she said. “If people didn’t donate, if the fire department didn’t come out here and donate their time and water, I don’t know where I’d go.”
When Moss took over Big Oaks following the death of its founder, Joe Mann, in October 2016, she went from barn manager to carrying the weight of operating the business herself. In August 2018, while the farm was financially on its last legs, Lonza purchased the old 2305 Kateway land for $900,000, giving Moss the money needed to buy and move into the current, 47-acre Hodges site at 809 E. Townsend Road.
“A lot of people don’t realize that I’ve moved instead of being on Kateway,” she said. “This new location meets the animals’ needs better.”
She said the new location feels special to her — her own monument to the daily efforts she, her family and her volunteers and workers make to save the lives of sickly, abandoned and abused animals. Volunteers and donations are key to that mission.
“I would hate to think what would happen to them,” she said of her animals. “They just wouldn’t stand a chance.”
She said each day is an effort to carry on the work Mann started, and she knows he’s looking down and smiling about it every day.
Anyone interested in donating to or volunteering at Big Oaks can visit the farm, message the farm on Facebook at facebook.com/BigOaksRescueFarm/ or call Moss at 864-992-3570.