Jack, a donkey at Bellepoint Rescue Farm, grazes in a field at the farm. Jack came to the farm after his former owners decided they couldn’t care for him anymore. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
There is a farm in Union County where the unwanted go to find a home — a 43-acre property on Bellepointe Road with rolling hills, abutting Mill Creek, that offers all barn-yard animals a place to graze and lay their heads.
The farm, owned and operated by Virginia Teitt and her husband, Jim, started with a pair of horses.
“It was a slow collection,” said Virginia Teitt. “Once people know how we got one animal then the word just continues to travel.”
Over the years, Teitt saw her farm grow to “a whole menagerie.”
“We have had some other animals, but one or two at a time,” she said. “Never like this though.”
The farm currently houses a donkey, horse and about a dozen sheep. The Teitt farm saw its largest jump in animals with nine new lambs this spring.
With lambs running around the farm, Teitt started to film the animals and share with friends. Neighbors started stopping by to do the same.
“Neighbors were taking a picture or video of the lambs and sending them to friends and family out of state and hearing about (the lambs) makes them smile,” Teitt said.
Seeing the happiness people were getting from watching the lambs, Teitt wanted to try and help people during a time of turmoil from the spread of the coronavirus.
The family expanded its mission to providing care and comfort not only for animals, but now also for those that are affected by the pandemic.
“We kept seeing parallels between people and animals that needed to be rescued,” said Virginia Teitt. “That is what motivated us, realizing that people were getting such joy from (the animals).”
That motivation led to Teitt and her sister, Julia Reidhead, to show off the rescued animals as a way of spreading that joy to a wider audience. While Teitt is in Union County, which has only had a handful of cases of the virus, Reidhead lives in New York City with more than 185,000 total reported cases. The difference between the two locations couldn’t be greater, according to Reidhead, who also is the president of a book publishing company.
“I have been talking with my staff and it is constant sirens, helicopters and refrigerator trucks that they are loading the dead onto,” she added.
Reidhead said the company of 639 people started working remotely March 13.
“The challenges of working remotely is keeping a sense of community,” said added.
To try and overcome the lack of community, Reidhead started online video sessions she calls Quality of Life were members of the company can share in learning about someone’s hobby. She wanted to show off her sister’s rescue animals.
“There was 80 people on the call from New York,” said Reidhead. “They could not have been more heart warmed. When you look at a baby lamb, you can’t feel bad.”
Teitt said she gets so much happiness from the animals and she wanted to share that. This was an opportunity to give people “signs of hope.”
“They may look out their windows and see brick, but through us, also see lambs playing, bottle-feeding and stories of rescue,” she said.
New York families asked about the stories of each of the rescued animals as Teitt showed them via video chat.
“That allowed us to talk about the animals one-by-one, tell their stories about how we rescued them,” Teitt said.
Showing off the animals sparked the Teitts to start an online presence with the animals, establishing a Facebook page and a YouTube account were they can share videos of life on the farm.
“Our son set up or Facebook site and we were seeing a couple of thousand views and that is how we got some more attention,” Teitt said.
The additional attention prompted Teitt to informally establish the farm as the Bellepointe Rescue Farm.
“Currently we buy all the feed and hay and everything needed for the animals,” Teitt said.
But Teitt is also considering opening the farm as a non-profit operation, after speaking with county officials, so the farm can be formally recognized and apply for grants to help supplement operations.
“We don’t have tax status as a farm because we can’t profit,” she added.
Regardless of the status of the farm Teitt said she will continue to take on animals because it is apart of her.
“It gets me up in the morning,” she said. “I love doing it. Getting out, seeing the sunrise, taking care of them at night. I just do it for the love of the animals.”
With the collection of animals growing, the farm has needed to expand. Teitt said they have had open a second pasture for the herd and are trying to figure out what to do with all the animals.
“If people are interested in them and would take good care of them, we would be glad to give them away,” she said. “We may have to sell to farmers or breeders, but that is something we haven’t wrestled through because we have never had a whole crop of lambs.”
In the meantime, Teitt just wants to share the happiness of her animals with as many people as she can.
“I wish I could tell you I had a vaccine for COVID-19, but maybe I have a little boost of hope for someone,” Teitt said.
Above, a sheep strolls through a pasture with her new lamb that was born on the farm this spring. The lamb was the inspiration for the rescue farm to start a social media page. Below,Virginia Teitt, owner and operator of the farm, feeds her horse Nikki. (Journal-Tribune photos by Sam Dillon)
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