Posted in Monthly Updates, Ress Family, Wadsworth Farm

January Update

Red, in happier days

I must start out by apologizing for being so late preparing the last few months of updates for the website. I’ve been preoccupied lately, working night and day trying to make Red’s life as comfortable as possible. He had arthritis in his front legs, and at the age of 18 we were fighting a losing battle. Red’s pain finally ended on the 4th of February, probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, and the hardest day on the farm for his stable-mate “lil” Girl.

Animals and farms go together. Few farms are limited to just raising crops, and ours certainly isn’t. No matter what kind of animals you raise, you get attached to them, and some more than others. You get fond of ducks, chickens, and some of the smaller livestock. But you really do get to love the larger animals. It’s hard not to. Horses in particular are very intelligent, and they have personalities. They just become as much a part of your family as a dog or cat.

Red was the gentle giant of the farm; he was a horse that knew how to brighten your day. If you were not in the best of moods he would find a way to take your mind off your problems. He had a big heart that he would share with all.

Red was a real character, too. Many times, while I was working on the farm, Red would want to help and our tools would take a walk. Fixing fences was always one of his favorite jobs, he loved to help you move your supplies and tools around the farm –  but not necessarily where you wanted them! When we were filling the outside stock tank, he liked to stop the water by standing on the hose. Have you ever tried to move a 1400 lb. horse when he doesn’t want to?

When it came to our guests, he loved them all unconditionally. He knew what it took to get a smile and a laugh, and to warm a heart. Red was a people horse; he’d rather be with people than other horses, and if someone new came to the farm Red was right there to give his greeting. He could make people who might be timid around big horses feel relaxed and affectionate. All he wanted was to be loved and he would do anything to achieve his goal, which meant he mostly gave as much or more than he got.

“lil” Girl and I are sticking together like glue now and will carry on what Red started, helping veterans and their families enjoy the precious gift of life. Our hearts are broken right now, but together we will complete our mission.

So long Red – you will always be in our hearts!

John, Jody, and all our friends and family

Posted in Events, Monthly Updates, Wadsworth Farm

November Update

November was pretty busy with finishing the garden clean up and getting the barn stocked for winter with hay. We had to winterize the first-aid trailer and move all esentials into the barn. We will now be staying warm with the help of the ol’ pot belly stove, so wood splitting will be ongoing all winter.

The First Annual Pig Roast was a great time with the band playing around the ol’ pot belly till 9pm. Many thanks to Robert & Ted Sittig for donating and cooking the pig, sure tasted great.  Thanks to Joanne from Coravir for the wonderful apple crisps and thanks to Al Raisman from North Jersey Co. for the donation of the cold cuts, we all had plenty to eat.

We are in the process of putting together a few more programs for next year, so check the site for up coming programs.


Posted in Events, Wadsworth Farm

Veterans Day Pig Roast!

The Freedom Farm will be having it’s first annual Veterans Day pig roast for all you Veterans and your families who would like to attend.

We will have roast pig, cold cut sandwiches, cheese and various side dishes. In addition to the food the band the Sundays will play for your enjoyment; several band members are Veterans themselves. So if you have time stop by and help us thank our Veterans, enjoy good food, good music and GREAT company.

The hours for the pig roast are from 1 to 9 P.M. on Friday, Nov. 11. Bring a lawn chair if you wish.

Posted in Events, Monthly Updates, Wadsworth Farm

October Update

The month of October was a busy one. We have been pulling the last of the produce from the gardens and have begun winterizing the farm.

The totals for the produce delivered to the food pantry were down fifteen percent from last year due to the ridiculous weather we had this year. The squash and melons suffered the most due to opening a new field this year, on property donated from our neighbor to the west Bob Perkins. Thanks, Bob! We will be adding twenty tons of manure to the field this fall and that will help boost next years production.

We had a very successful First Annual Fall Festival on the 22nd (see the previous post for details). The children painted an SUV full of pumpkins. They were delivered in place of roses to the Veterans in the V.A. hospital. Marty, our Rose Lady, did a wonderful job and setting up and advertising for the festival. Thanks Marty! We’re looking forward to see what surprises she has in store for us next year.

Posted in Events, Wadsworth Farm

First Fall Farm Festival a Success!

The third Saturday in October proved to be a perfect day to invite visitors to the farm! The first Fall Farm Festival at the Freedom Farm was a success with visitors from local areas and as far away as Kenosha, WI. The ages ranged from 18 months to ? Veterans present were reserve duty officers and veterans of WWII, with their families.

Activities kept the children busy and let parents join in the fun together. Pumpkins from the farm garden were lined up and painted by the children and visitors to be delivered to the VA patients the next Wednesday. The pumpkins were traditional and colorful…in the best way that a 2 yr old could manage….and all were loved and a wonderful surprise for the patients and residents at the VA. The children also got to go into the garden and choose their own pumpkin to take home for Trick-or-Treat.

More fun included face painting, assisted by volunteer Dianna Dick, a neighbor of the Ress’ who asked to participate in the event. Spiders and butterflies highlighted the designs. Kids also got to feed the chickens and ducks apples from the trees on the property and corn from the corn stalks. They enjoyed being able to be right at the fence with the chickens and not having to wait in any lines for the fun. They also worked on drawings for the logo for 2012. The design will earn the winner a free t-shirt painted for the festival for 2012, containing the essence of their design for items for sale.

The raffles held at the festival were a quilt raffle and a red, white, and blue decorated Christmas tree, donated to the festival by Leslie Price-Robison. Tickets were sold at $1 each or 6 for $5. The winners of the prizes were: Tree: Rosemary Ress, sister of the four brothers that the stars in the Freedom Farm emblem represent and the wife of Frank Ress, the father of Director John Ress. The quilt winner was Mary Thedford of North Chicago, IL (pictured). Mrs Thedford is a regular participant at the Waukegan VFW and purchased her ticket there. Her husband is a Vietnam veteran that returned to the theater 4 times before the end of his time in the service. We thank both of these ladies, and all participants in the raffles for their donations.

The bake sale that was held for the day was also a great success. Donations were taken for the food and baked goods were donated by Leslie Price-Robison, Marty Cornett, Rosemary Ress, and Mr. and Mrs. Depke of Wadsworth, who donated 75 taffy apples. After the day concluded, extra baked goods were distributed to veterans and taken to the VA for the volunteers that assist veterans there.

We considered the beautiful day a great success. Adults and children enjoyed the farm, horses, feeding the ducks and chickens, and the other activities. We hope everyone will join us again next year and bring friends and family.

Posted in Events, Wadsworth Farm

Fall Farm Festival!

The Farm is ready for fall…and welcomes all veterans and their families to the farm for a Fall Farm Festival!

The farm festival will be held on Saturday, October 22 from 1-5 PM on the farm grounds.  We are planning a bake sale, face painting, quilt raffle, T-shirts for sale, and a logo contest.

The logo created by a visitor will be used for the 2012 festival design.  The winner will receive a free T-shirt for next year.

Since the roses are not blooming as they were in the warmer days, we are inviting visitors to paint pumpkins from the garden and we will deliver them to patients at the VA hospital for their rooms.  We hope that it gives you a way to wish them well and will give the pumpkins from the garden a special purpose.

We will have a diagram available for visitors to see about the future growth of the farm and a list of proposed services we are developing.  Time lines are not yet determined, but we want everyone to know what they can expect from us ….and we hope to be able to serve veterans needs in any way we can.

So, come down to the farm on a sunny Saturday and enjoy some time getting to know us and letting us get to meet you!  See you there!

Posted in Monthly Updates, Our Donors, Wadsworth Farm

September Update

September’s garden production was fairly good despite the days of heavy rain. Most gardens had trouble this year but it didn’t seem to affect us very much due to the newspaper and grass combination we use for mulch. The soil doesn’t get washed away with the hard rains, and when the rain is over the moisture stays put. This method has allowed us to produce larger and healthier plants, and it also increases the yield by 25%.

We have donated in excess of 1000 lbs. so far this season to the Most Blessed Trinity food pantry on 8th and Lincoln in Waukegan. They have been hit hard by this economy and they have not received as much government help as in previous years, so they are extremely glad when they see us at their door. It looks like they might get two more deliveries from us this season before we’ll be done for the year, thanks to all those who helped with this year’s garden program.

Our Rose Memorial Program got off to a great start this year. My sister Marty became our Rose Lady, and to date she has brightened the days of 51 of our Veterans hospitalized at the James Lovell V.A. Her larger than life laugh can brighten up anyone’s day, and the personal touch she adds with each delivery touches the hearts of those she sees.

Next year we will be taking the photos for the dedication plaques. In the first season a rose is planted, it takes most of the summer for the plant to get established and start producing. The following summer the bush will be more mature and full for the photo.

The Medical Referral Program has started out very well, with all participants getting the help they need. We have helped one Veteran get a scooter that he needed, and we also found him a transport van. We’re in the process of helping another Veteran try to get his discharge status changed and have him signed up to receive his V.A. Medical Coverage. We’re also helping more Veterans to get their service connection status changed, which will allow them to receive the benefits for which they’re entitled.

These are some of the ways program operates, and with the help of the GREAT staff at the Lake County Veterans Assistance Commission, to things get done. Thanks to all for a job well done!

We’ve had many visitors benefit from the stress relief provided by our peaceful setting and friendly staff (and animals). It’s amazing the calming effect that a 1400 lb horse can have on someone.

Sometimes we’re even blessed with music played by one of our regulars. Playing and singing is this Veteran’s way to relax, and the farm setting provides the perfect atmosphere.

We have a saying here, “If you don’t try, you don’t do”, so if you’re looking help or you’re looking to give we will be glad to assist you in any way we can.


  • To Linda Benge for donating her time to create our logo. Linda worked very hard to help us create a logo that best represents our project. Thanks again, Linda.
  • To Barb Karacic from the Most Blessed Trinity Food Pantry. Without her help and support we would have never gotten our project off the ground.