This year Bay Area city kids had the opportunity to raise animals in a ranch settling thanks to Verne Teyler of Hosanna Boy’s Ranch, who extended the ranch as a second home for 4-H kids to keep the animals they couldn’t keep within city limits.
Verne provided an ideal location for the kids to set up and learn about keeping animals for the fair. He offered much appreciated housing and support, but he also gave the kids plenty of space to learn on their own, and the road wasn’t always smooth.
In the first days, there were escaped animals, which thankfully were rounded up by the amazing resident border collies. There was seemingly endless rain, which made the dirt road to the barn impassable by car, causing long treks in mud boots in the rain up a very slippery hill, and intermittent water issues, which required an exhausting series of bucket brigades.
The kids also had to organize feeding and cleaning shifts, which were grueling when a handful of the animals came down with the runs – thankfully it was only a matter of a few messy weeks. Throughout the entire experience, Verne patiently provided his support when asked, but always let the kids figure it out for themselves. He would smile in that knowing way and nod in understanding.
One night when the kids accidentally locked keys in a parent’s car and the parent returned at 11:00 p.m. after getting a ride for the second set of keys, Verne appeared in his pajamas with a flashlight up at the barn to see what was going on. He was gentle and patient when he really wasn’t expected to be.
Verne even extended his hospitality to roosters stranded after the Alameda County Fair. Several children from all over Alameda County had raised chicks that year which grew into fine roosters they had tried to sell at the fair. At the end of the fair, the roosters had not sold and they could not go home, so Verne took them in.
“I would hate to see any animal not be able to live a farm life,” he told me. The roosters now help to protect the large chicken pen from a persistent skunk.
Working with foster kids since the ‘70s, Verne well knows the therapeutic value of animals in helping children learn how to be empathetic and responsible, and the joy of his expertise shines in the 4-H kids anxious to participate again next year.
Currently Hosanna Boy’s Ranch offers foster care to international studies high school students throughout the academic year, as well as parenting classes, and cancer support groups. Its mission is to reduce the trauma for children and their families by providing programs for better opportunities.