Good Sam Gives Back to Celestial Farms


All farms are unique because the animals and the people there are unique.  Add rescued farm animals to the package, and you have a formula for inspiration and yet, very hard work.  For our November Good Sam Giveback, we chose Celestial Farms. Celestial Farms is a not-for-profit farm animal rescue and educational center located in Jacksonville, Florida.  Not only do they help farm animals in need and their community, but they are in need of help too.  And Good Sam was fully behind us in our efforts to set this farm in the right direction with positivity and our belief that they can turn things around for the better.

When animals need help, it is not emotionally easy to hear the stories of abandonment or neglect.  For many years, Celestial Farms has tried to be there for everyone in their community and beyond.  Unfortunately, the pandemic caused more of a need in their area along with an increase in abandoned animals. With less funds coming in to accomplish what they wanted to, they found themselves in a dire situation.  So when the farm recently changed ownership, the wind of change also came over the land.  It is not easy to admit sometimes that systems used for years no longer work.  But Rory Malloy, the Executive Director and Sami Zabner, the Chief Operations Manager/Social Media Manager of Celestial Farms put everything they had into planning for a change. Their vision is of a well-functioning place for the public to visit while making a comfortable place for their animals to reside and heal for now and the future will be possible because of their love for this farm.

Julie, a 34 year old horse, immediately caught our eye when we came to visit the farm.  Feeble yet beautiful, Julie found her forever home here.  But the farm knew they wanted to do better for her and the other horses in their care.  Unfortunately, barn stalls were just one thing on their list…a very big list.  After touring the farm, we decided with Rory and Sami that we would help them with this big piece of positive change for the farm.  Good Sam immediately expressed their support of our plans, and we got to ordering materials, calculating what space each horse needed and rounding up volunteers.  Our goal was to make three new horse stalls for this deserving farm and deserving animals in just one day.  

When a love of animals, community and each other is there, it is magic what can happen.  Many of the volunteers were inexperienced with building, but they were not inexperienced with compassion and love!  Every person there made a difference just like every nail and every piece of wood.  

Night was upon us as the sun was setting, and we knew we were not going to give up!  Just as the sun disappeared, all the horses checked out their stalls for the first time.  Oh, how much they deserved it!  Oh, how much we enjoyed seeing their faces and tired legs coming back to life!

Helping others isn’t always easy.  Helping others takes effort on our part and it takes compassion.  If we would have judged this farm as soon as we walked in, we would have never seen its potential or beauty hidden underneath.  Helping others without judgment is what all the animals do for the visitors at Celestial Farms.  They cheer us up when we are depressed or downtrodden.  The animals show us that healing is possible, even if you are at your lowest.  The animals here at Celestial Farms are a blessing, and we are encouraged by the attitude that Good Sam had in helping us help them.

Celestial Farms is determined that with the right goals, management and support of their community as they change that the future will be bright.  They will be providing education not only in animal care, but organic gardening, foraging and sustainable living.  The new barn stalls from Good Sam and 2 Traveling Dogs might seem like a small gesture. But perhaps you can relate to someone giving you one encouraging word or praise that motivated you to be better.  Good Sam tells us to Be Good, Do Good.  Never think that one act of kindness isn’t enough.  It may be everything. And we learned this more than ever the day after we completed the horse stalls.

“I’m here because I can’t imagine myself anywhere else. I have been given the opportunity to surround myself with animals in need of nurturing, gardens in need of tending, humans who are looking to expand their perspective, and I get to pull that all together. I have been given the chance to cultivate the space for neighbors and friends to work together, to rebuild a sanctuary, and lay the foundation work to educate the public about Mother Earth, all with my toddler on my back.”
Sami Zabner, Chief Operations Manager

The 2 Traveling Dogs family was having some problems of our own during the week of the giveback.  Our dog Digby Pancake was very ill, and we had to balance our time at the farm with taking care of our boy and his brother Peanut Butter Brickle.  The farm was very accommodating to us and worked their schedule around ours. We are very heartbroken to say that Digby passed away the day after our giveback.  And as full-time RV travelers, we were in a difficult situation ourselves.  With nowhere to lay Digby to rest, the farm stepped up and offered us a place for Digby Pancake on the farm.  For a dog that spent the 12 years of his life helping us with animal rescue, what a wonderful tribute to Digby this offer was.  We would have never guessed the strangers we met for our Good Sam giveback would become lifelong friends.  We helped them, but in the end, they helped us in our time of need.  Thank you to Celestial Farms for giving Digby his place among rescued farm animals, a shade tree and a creek.  We know helping others will always be a part of our family, and our family keeps growing with the ones we help along with Good Sam.

Sami recited one of her favorite quotes to us. “Magic is essentially the higher understanding of nature.” We see this magic in action here at Celestial Farms, and thanks to Good Sam, this magic will continue to grow.  If you are ever near Jacksonville, Florida, please be sure and sit with Digby under the shade tree as he watches over all of the rescued animals.