The first few days of 2017 were tough ones at the Billings Farm, with the passing of Joe, our 25-year-old Percheron. Joe was a wonderful horse with a calm demeanor and a love of working with his partner, Jim.
We’ve been deeply touched by the tremendous outpouring of support and kindness we’ve received from so many of you since Joe’s passing. We’ve read hundreds of Facebook and Blog messages expressing fond memories and condolences for our staff – and for Jim, Joe’s faithful partner. Ms. Leonard’s 2nd Grade Class at the Prosper Valley School was kind enough to send us drawings and letters, many addressed to Jim directly. We are pleased to report that Jim appears to be taking Joe’s death surprisingly well and has been in good spirits.
We’ve reprinted many of your messages below, including letters from the Prosper Valley School. Although we’re able to feature only a sampling of the almost two hundred notes that we’ve received, please know that even if your message isn’t included below, it has been read and is very much appreciated!
From everyone at Billings Farm: thank you for your kindness and support.
Barbara: The Prosper Valley 2nd Grade is very sorry to hear of Joe’s passing. As the 2nd grade teacher here for 25 years, I really feel this loss not only on my professional level, but personally as well. My out-of-town grandchildren loved nothing more than visiting BF&M, with the highlight of their visit being Jim and Joe. Many wagon rides and barn visits will stay in my memory for years to come. Wishing all the best to Jim as he adjusts to life without his best bud!
Marilyn: I am so very sorry to hear the news about Joe. He was very special. I remember him well. When I would come to Billings Farm & Museum to visit, the first place I went was to the barns to see the horses. If they weren’t in their stalls, I went to the pasture to be with them. I have always had a fondness for horses, because my grandfather raised Percheron horses on his farm in Ferrisburgh, Vermont, in the early part of the 20th century. You are at peace, Joe. Run free and wild in Heaven. I have always enjoyed the wagon rides around the Farm, too. I love Billing Farm & Museum . . . it is a wonderful and educational experience, indeed.
April: I am so sorry to hear this. I’m very glad to have seen him on our many trips there. What a majestic horse he was. Billings is one of my favorite places and his presence will be missed.
Amy, Jeff, Ella, Avery, and Olivia: Oh Joe, rest peacefully. My girls will surely miss your gentle presence. To all of the Billings family and community, and most especially Jim, we wish you peace and healing.
Julie: A sad loss for the Billings Farm Family. He lived a good life and we were blessed to have Joe as part of our team. He will be missed.
The O’Connor Family – JoEllen, Lily and Carolyn: The horses are the biggest draw to my girls. We would always go into the horse barn first to see if Jim and Joe were in their stalls so we could say hello first. Joe you will be greatly missed. You were a gentle giant. Billings will never be the same. Rest in peace Joe and enjoy your side of the rainbow bridge.
Margaret: So very sorry for your loss of Joe. He was a beautiful horse and I know he will be missed. I have been to your farm once and saw Joe and the other horses in the pasture. They are all wonderful animals.
Susan: Sorry for your loss of Joe. Thank you for loving and taking such good care of him, he will always be with you.
Peg: So we saw you this past fall and you were beautiful and very sweet. You will be greatly missed.
Jean: My thoughts and heart go out to the Billings farm staff/family. A truly heartbreaking time. Joe was cherished by everyone who met and knew him.
Allison: So sorry to hear this. Jim and Joe were our very favorite part of our visit to Billings each year. So sad
Wendy: I am so sorry, for Joe, Jim, & everyone. I didn’t know he was sick, but I took this picture on the 31st. I really stopped & sat with Joe this day, and felt something in his eyes. I even mentioned it to a horse friend, telling her he had a gentleness/softness or wording to that effect. Animals are INCREDIBLE! Both are boys spent time in the summer with both Joe & Jim. Oh boy. Gulp.
Not sure if this is Joe or Jim but we loved them enough to have this picture out and framed in our house. Hugs for Jim.
Debra: So sorry to hear this news. But he had a wonderful home and great life at the farm I am certain.
Jo-Ann: He was my buddy . . . every time I would go inside the barn he would nuzzle me with lip kisses oh I will miss him so.
Diane: Such hard news. A whinny and a toss of the mane up to horse heaven. Joe has a special place there, for sure. Our grandchildren will be so sad when they hear the news.