On the first week of April, Harvest Farm gained two new guests—similar in some ways, though very, very different.

Both guests have a brother and a sister but have lived fairly different lives from their siblings. Both have faced feelings of rejection from a parent. Both found the companionship they needed at the Farm through one another.

Chris grew up in Estes Park, where drinking and drugs became his hobbies in an environment of small-town living. He started using meth at 15, got kicked out of his father’s house at 16, and when living with his mother didn’t work out, he eventually found himself homeless on the streets of Fort Collins. By the time he was 19, he had nine felony charges and was given a six-year prison sentence after running away from a halfway house. Chris was eventually granted parole, which resulted in his move to Harvest Farm to join the New Life Program.

Belle the goat is a triplet and was born on the Farm. As a baby, she wasn’t getting enough milk from her mother, who was only able to nurse her other two children, which led to dismal malnourishment for Belle.

Chris and Belle’s paths crossed when Chris noticed that the young runt was underfed and weak and decided to take initiative. For two weeks, he bottle fed Belle every 30 minutes, including night shifts. For weeks after that, he fed her every two hours, then every four hours and then every six hours, until she was in better physical condition.

“She’s a very dependent goat,” Chris said. “I think it’s more that I’m her emotional support than she’s mine, but I guess it works both ways.”

“It gave him a really distinct purpose early on in his program and just gave him something to care for—something of value in his life,” Lee said.

Lee Wynkoop, livestock coordinator at the Farm, said that Belle would probably have died if Chris had not intervened.

“It gave him a really distinct purpose early on in his program and just gave him something to care for—something of value in his life,” Lee said.

Through the LifeSkills, Education and Career (LEC) classes in our New Life Program, Chris has learned how to use Microsoft Word, check his credit score and get his license reinstated. His chaplain, Dave Sterner, is helping him start the process to remove the “Hell Bent” tattoos on his eyebrows.

Before arriving at the Farm, he made the choice to stop using drugs and has been clean for almost a year. He said the community aspect of the Farm has had a major impact on him.

Belle, now strengthened, recovered and content, follows Chris around the Farm. When Chris rides his bike, Belle chases him. When Chris leaves Belle in her pen, she cries dramatically. When Chris rides the tractor, she’s on it with him.

“It’s not unusual to go up to devotions in the morning at the dining hall and have Belle standing outside the dining hall waiting for him, kind of like a dog,” Lee said. “I’ve never seen a goat do something like that.”

“There’s a lot more people out there who are like me than I realized and they go through fairly similar struggles.”

Every morning, Chris gets up and makes sure Belle has enough hay and water in her pen. Caring for Belle has brought healing and purpose into his life.

“It’s definitely made me realize that I like having someone who depends on me to take care of them,” he said. “That’s just a good feeling.”

His goal is to work for Centennial Livestock Auctions during the final stage of the New Life Program and eventually attend the WyoTech Automotive Technology program after he graduates from the Farm.

“I’ve always been kind of an animal person,” he said. “I feel like the Livestock Auction is going to be one of the few places that doesn’t judge me for having a goat that follows me around all the time!”

By supporting Fort Collins Rescue Mission and Harvest Farm, you are providing opportunities for men like Chris to find healing, companionship and purpose.

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