Cash, June, Pie, Grace, Willow, Levi, Imogene and Finn are the names of the horses and donkeys that live on Charlie’s Forever Farm. Owners Matt and Ranae Bauserman have dedicated their lives to saving abused, neglected and forgotten farm animals and providing them a loving home.
A big, red barn sits on the ten-acre farm which is located on pristine property off Van Vleet Road in Swartz Creek. The recently-renovated barn houses the donkeys and horses, with a dirt walkout paddock where the donkeys love to jump and play. In a free-range area for ducks and Billie the goat, each has their own little house they can go in and out of as they please.
The Bausermans have always loved animals. Ranae grew up on a farm in Gaines and her dad was a dairy farmer. She purchased her first horse when she was 15 years old and worked at a small farm. When she got her own farm, her dream was to fill it with chickens, ducks and horses. Matt grew up in Swartz Creek and since recently retiring from the Grand Blanc Township Police Department after 28 years of service, he maintains the farm and manages day-to-day activities.
“The animals changed my life. Giving them the home they deserve is a really rewarding experience.”
Forty animals live at CFF—horses, donkeys, goats, dogs, ducks, chickens and cats. “We keep them forever!” Ranae exclaims. “We give them a place to live where they can be free, fed and spoiled.”
Cash and June were the first donkeys to find a home with the Bausermans. Ranae received a phone call from a rescue facility in Texas asking if they would be willing to adopt a donkey. “It all happened very quickly,” she explains. After reading an article about why donkeys were in need of rescue, they took in another one. “When Ranae told me about the donkeys, I thought she was crazy,” Matt shares. “But they needed a home and we could give it to them.”
They now have rescued nine donkeys and two horses that were in kill pens all around the country—in South Carolina, Mississippi and Virginia. One of the rescued horses came from Pennsylvania and one from Grand Blanc. “The owner reached out to us and we brought her in,” says Matt.
The farm is also home to five rescued dogs. One they found was in poor health—skinny, sick, in awful shape. People also started just dropping off unwanted dogs at the farm. “We took them in,” says Matt, adding that they purchased kennels to keep them safe. “One was so skinny and malnourished, we kept her in Matt’s office,” Ranae remembers. A kennel-funding project is underway to build a six-stall kennel with a fenced running area.
Charlie’s Forever Farm became a nonprofit organization in 2021, and fundraising events keep the place up and running. The biggest expense is hay—about $7,000 a year. Funding also comes from donors and sponsors; a board of directors and volunteers help with the animals and fundraisers. “People reach out to us to volunteer their time here,” Matt reports. “Some just want to come out and brush the donkeys. It’s therapy in itself.”
CFF has teamed up with Voices for Children Advocacy Center in Flint to provide animal therapy for kids ages 8-18. “Kids love the donkeys,” Ranae shares. “They are very gentle. Sometimes, the therapy is just sitting and playing with one of the cats.”
Rescuing animals and providing them a forever home has been a labor of love for both Ranae and Matt. “The animals changed my life,” Ranae admits. “They have an effect on you, even on your worst day. They want to be with you. Giving them the home they deserve is a really rewarding experience.”