Not many people choose to wake up at 5 am, at least not to do hard labor. That’s not the case for Danny Blumberg, who grew up on Rock Hill Farm Brewster with his family, and now manages the Blumberg’s “sister” farm, Rock Hill Farm Pawling, while he is also a financial services professional with National Life Group.
The days may begin early for Danny, but they go by quickly. With oxen, horses, pigs, ducks, goats, rabbits and cows to tend to, there is plenty to do at these two locations, which Danny runs along with his father John, who is the General Agent of National Life Group’s agency in White Plains, NY.
On the farm they raise draft horses and oxen. They use the gentle giants to teach families and individuals how to drive horses and oxen. Working with their horses has proven to be a valuable source of therapy for the many disabled children and veterans that they work with. Danny is trained in teaching therapeutic horseback riding and horse driving to children with social and behavioral issues. He was the former equine program coordinator at Green Chimneys, where he continues to volunteer.
And when he’s not taking care of animals or helping his clients with their financial lives, Danny can be found driving a team of draft horses at local charity events with his father, John. Together the father and son team do over 20 charity events a year. Both animal lovers, they casually started bringing their team of draft horses to events about 15 years ago. “We just love to share our obsession. It’s a way to relax and a way to give back.”
The father and son team, John and Danny, with their draft horses
“We try to help as many causes as we can,” explains Danny. That includes bringing their wagon team to charity events including events for veterans, Relay for Life and various events for children with disabilities. Both father and son are energized by the joy they get from sharing their passion with others. “There is no greater joy than bringing smiles to children, especially when working with children who may be struggling with a physical or behavioral challenge.”
And Danny can relate to overcoming challenges of his own. All his life Danny had his heart set on a career in law enforcement. But an accident at his farm in 2014 left him blind in one eye and led him down a different career path to National Life. Danny summed it up in his own words, “Now I’ve found a new way to help protect people.”
Danny finds purpose whether he is in the office or on the farm. “I have the best of both worlds. At the office, I help people financially plan for the future and when I am on the farm, I help people connect to a side of themselves, a way of life that may have been forgotten. Draft horses are gentle giants. It’s hard to be around them and not feel a deep connection when they look at you.”
This past Christmas, Danny organized a gift drive for local children in need. He started in September, and by Christmas he had collected over 200 gifts with the help of friends, family and clients. On Christmas morning Danny and his family headed out on the horse drawn wagon to deliver the gifts. Danny does it all for the pure joy, “I just love seeing little kids smile.”
Danny and volunteers out delivering gifts on Christmas Day 2015
And he’s been able to share his passion with his clients as well. Frequently he has his clients and their families over for a wagon ride. “I always tell my clients, I’d love to have you and your family over to the farm for a wagon ride.” In addition to the horses, Danny has several small animals, including a pot-bellied therapy pig. According to Danny, “the pig is a big hit with the kids.”
Danny describes his and his dad’s charitable work, “We try to do as much as we can for as many people as we can. I love the simplicity of farm work and the peace the horses bring to my life. Horses keep things simple. In the complicated world we live in, there is absolutely something therapeutic and grounding about focusing on and taking care of something other than yourself.”
When you lead a mission-driven life, not only do you get to experience the joy of sharing your passion with others but you may inspire others along the way. Whatever your mission or passion is, strive to share it. If you touch just one person, it might just make a world of difference.