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‘Christmas in the Stables’ event highlights Wolfe Ranch renovations – Marshalltown Times Republican

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T-R PHOTOS BY ROBERT MAHARRY
— Matt, one of the horses at the Quakerdale Wolfe Ranch just outside of Marshalltown, brought the holiday spirit to the “Christmas in the Stables” event on Saturday. He is pictured with siblings Lily and Robbie Noble of Des Moines and Ranch Manager Dave Smith.

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the area in 2020, the Quakerdale Wolfe Ranch just southeast of Marshalltown saw business as usual interrupted greatly. It did, however, give leadership a chance to get to work on renovations and facility improvements that give the main lodge a completely fresh look.

“We’re not done, so we’re kind of doing one thing at a time,” Quakerdale Family Services Executive Director Beth Andrew said. “It’s a lot of work, but it looks so much better.”

Andrew credits Ranch Manager Dave Smith with doing most of the work to update the look of the kitchen and the counseling room and building a western-themed pulpit in another room at the main lodge. On Saturday, the ranch hosted “Christmas in the Stables,” which was open to the public and allowed attendees to pet horses, enter a raffle drawing and learn more about what Quakerdale Family Services can offer, from traditional mental health counseling to equine therapy.

In addition to the challenges COVID has presented, the derecho of 2020 complicated the process of rebuilding and replacing the ranch’s indoor horse arena. Due to long-term truss damage, Smith had already finished demolition in July, and he was putting sand back in the new arena the day the storm hit.

“Financially, that hit us hard here because along with our riding arena being down, a lot of surrounding riding arenas were damaged, too. So nobody had a place to ride last winter,” Smith said.

Quakerdale Family Services Executive Director Beth Andrew, left, and Office Manager Debbie Wilson, right, pose for a photo next to the Christmas tree inside the main lodge area at the Wolfe Ranch.

The number of sign ups for riding lessons dropped off substantially after the pandemic — from 50 in 2019 to just three in 2021 — but Smith and Andrew are hopeful that they will be able to build them back up again, slowly but surely. Equine therapy services, Andrew noted, did continue throughout and have become increasingly popular. Along with its mental health and therapy services, the ranch is available for special event rental with overnight accommodations.

Smith admitted that Christmas in the Stables was scaled down this year due to the ongoing COVID situation, but both he and Andrew were pleased with the modest but steady turnout on Saturday.

“What I would say (is) it seems like a lot of the folks that have been coming through… They’re like ‘We’ve never been here.’ So it’s their first time coming here,” Andrew said. “We’re excited about that piece of it because we’re getting to expose people to what we have that haven’t been here.”

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Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255

or [email protected]

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