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Experiencing the Power of Connection at Hidden Bee Farm

Genuine connection is a powerful thing to experience. For the Seaton family, what started as a bond between their son Jackson and animals has led to a ripple effect of connection in their community.

Just a few years ago, Alicia and David Seaton purchased a farm in Columbia, Tennessee for their family to call home. While they initially had a few therapy animals on the farm for their youngest son Jackson, who has autism, they unexpectedly found their farm growing into one with an impact they could never have imagined.

The Seatons were asked to take in two donkeys who had been rescued from an abusive situation. They found the pair of the animals to be both skittish and aggressive out of fear because of their prior trauma. However, their son Jackson had an indescribable connection with the animals that they knew was something special. “When they saw Jackson, they would
immediately walk to him and snuggle their head into his chest,” says Alicia Seaton of the rescue donkeys. “Jackson is autistic with limited verbal ability, but Jackson had an instant non-verbal intimate bond with these tragic animals. There was a sense of peace and comfort between them. We later recognized this was not limited to only the donkeys but all animals – often the more abused the animal, the deeper the bond [they had with Jackson]. Our autistic son experienced joy from some of the saddest animals, while [he] also brought joy to some of the saddest animals. It was the most beautiful mutually beneficial relationship that we have been blessed to see.”

Upon experiencing this special bond, the family made the leap to not only welcome more animals but also the community to their farm when they established the non-profit rescue two years ago. Since the initial pair of donkeys, the Seatons have taken in numerous farm animals that have been rescued from abusive situations or have found their way to Hidden Bee Animal Rescue due to situations such as their owners passing away, moving without a way to bring them along, etc. 

The farm and non-profit seek to teach the local community and children—especially those with special needs—lessons that build character and responsibility through caring for the animals. “Learning the importance of social responsibility for the welfare of animals was our mission with our own sons and was especially important for our youngest with autism,” explains Seaton. “Teaching him the importance of caring for something other than himself helped develop his own self-worth. His ability to look at these beautiful animals in need with kindness and caring gives him purpose. In the end, it gives us the ability at Hidden Bee Animal Rescue to be dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating abused and neglected farm animals by creating a safe haven where these individuals can recover, thrive, and ultimately begin their new happier life.”

Hidden Bee Animal Rescue is open to the public for events, school field trips, and events with the special needs community. Individuals and families can schedule an appointment to visit or volunteer at the farm at Ways to help include assisting with farm repairs, engaging with animals, supporting monetarily to help with vet bills, feeding the animals, stable repairs, etc. “Through rescue & rehabilitation combined with education around animal welfare issues, there is no limit to what good can be done within our communities & beyond,” says Alicia Seaton.