Where We Meet: The Forever Farm

This name does not imply an expectation that you will always need this farm or our services. Rather it is intended to honor the deeply challenging process of building trust that is invested in by people whose lives have been disrupted by trauma, chronic illness and/or broken relationships.

The Forever Farm was named with true intention to reflect that we hope it will always be here for people when they decide it could be helpful. This reflects our commitment to growth and healing as a true recovery process wherein people invest in therapeutic services at critical times in their lives, sometimes throughout life; similar to how we humans invest time and resources in physical healthcare services.

We know what it is like to lose a trusted primary care provider. We have experienced the painful process of rebuilding trust with a new provider. Our hope is that The Forever Farm can become a place for people to "come back to" on the lifelong journey of healing on emotional, mental and spirit-level realms.

How Did The Name Come To Be?

The 46 acres of rolling hills between Madison and Edgerton along Interstate 90 has been known as the Interstate Horse Center (IHC) since 1989. Over the past decade Bob and Nikki have worked with dozens of youth in foster care who want nothing more than to have a place to call home. Those inolved in this system know that for many children this will only happen if they find a Forever Family and that the odds are stacked against them.

So Nikki began referring to IHC as the Forever Farm. She believed one of the keys to helping these young people make progress in their social-emotional development could be found by giving them a sense of roots in this vast world. Gardening is an important aspect of therapy for kids and adults who are open to it. Planting seeds and nurturing the young plants that break through the soil against all odds provides an excellent metaphor for personal growth for those who feel buried by life's dirt.

One example: A teen who had been in over a dozen foster homes prior to coming to our farm had experienced the death of every blood relative by the time she was 12. Her sense of abandonment led her to violently push people away that she started to love... so they couldn't break her heart when life stole them from her. We let her know we'd help her keep a relationship with the farm as long as she found it useful to her. After almost two years of intensive trauma-focused grief-based individual therapy with Nikki she began to transition into a role as volunteer so she could serve her community service time owed to the county for past transgressions. She volunteered for nearly a year. During this time her therapy shifted from multiple sessions each week to once weekly to twice monthly to once a month. By the end of her year of volunteering she was so involved in other community activities that her time out here gradually faded out of her life. That was 2008. In 2016 she came back to visit and chose to volunteer once a week for about three months. She alluded to a divorce from her husband and that she was working with a therapist she trusted whose services were covered by insurance from her employer that she started working for after college. She again faded out her volunteer time as her heartache began to fade.

When we asked why she felt the farm was where this healing needed to take place she responded, "I felt drawn to visit again after my first post-divorce therapy session. Part of me felt like it would be a step backward but I remembered what Nikki said about healing being a lifelong ebb-and-flow recovery process. When I pulled into the driveway and saw the tree I planted on my last therapy session day... and realized how much the two of us had grown and blossomed... I knew this sanctuary would get me through this dark time just as it had gotten me through the darkness of a childhood filled with enormous loss."

The Herd

The herd of horses at The Forever Farm is a rather unique herd. The core principles used by Nikki in Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy are found through study of this herd.
Its core of 12 IHC-owned horses, ranging from 8-36 years old, have lived together most of their lives (many since birth). The 4 boarding horses have been in the herd for 5-19 years. This gives the herd a healthy level of hierarchy seldom found in today’s herds.
This hierarchy is different than what you find in most boarding stable herds. The longevity of the IHC Herd provides the horses with a sense of security which results in far less aggressiveness when new horses are introduced. Out of respect for the power of wild instincts still present in today’s horses we slowly introduce new horses to the herd; new horses run with the herd only after a period of quarantine and joining them with IHC horses in small groups in our indoor arena where the new horse can develop connections with a couple of buddies before joining the full herd.