Awesome Mama: Diane Gockel

Meet the local mom behind Second Chance Ranch and Rescue Series Books

November 19, 2015
One of our favorite things about publishing Macaroni Kid is the chance to connect with other moms in our community.  Often times these connections inspire us and remind us of the ability of one person to make a difference.  It is with this in mind that we launch a new article series called Awesome Mama.  Our hope is to introduce you to some amazing moms living right in our communities who not only are doing unique and wonderful things but also deserve to have some attention brought to their mission.

We first met Diane Gockel when we introduced you to her Creative Kids Unplugged themed activity boxes and rescue series books - both of which are really great for kids!  But we know her better now as "The Farm Lady" because the activities and the books are actually created to support Second Chance Ranch, acres of green pastures in the heart of Sammamish where rescued farm animals find a very special home. 

Diane Gockel is a mom and grandma on a mission to share her love for animals and tell their stories to kids and their parents.
  Please get to know this local mom a little better by reading her answers to our questions and her thoughts.

What is your mission?
First and foremost, I want to share my love of animals.  I want people to experience their loving and forgiving nature; their vulnerability and need for our protection and care. What has developed from this has astounded me! I had no idea the Ranch and the books would fulfill a need for people to unplug and “experience” something together- not just “watch” something together or compete.  Both the books and the farm have given others a much-needed chance to reconnect with nature and experience the unconditional love of an animal friend.

Each of the rescues on our farm have a name, a story and a history, just like all of us. As we learn their story, we are more empathetic and loving towards them, not unlike our relationship with one another. Second Chance Ranch provides an opportunity for visitors to get to know and experience these rescue animals. The Rescue Series books, and our animal trading cards, have connected the reader to each individual animal and have helped adults and kids alike to form a relationship with them.  The Ranch has created the experience and the books have built the relationship with each animal on the farm.

As for our rescues, many came here with a mistrust of humans because of their past of neglect and or abuse. Many come hungry for food, healthcare and love.  We provide them with good nutrition, shelter, vet care and most of all, human love so they learn to trust again.  It is so rewarding when an animal comes here, neglected and scared and learns to trust people again.  Our visitors play a big role in that. They bring apples, carrots, love and affection.  Our donkeys were once impossible to catch and now it’s hard not to trip over them as they follow us around the pastures. And our horse, Cruiser, would not let you go near his face as he was afraid of getting hit, but now will always come to the fence for a visitor and welcomes a snuggle. Cruiser will spend his senior years in a happy place and bring joy to our many visitors.  And that is the reward of the mission.

What I didn’t expect, however, is how much the ranch and the Rescue Series Books have done for humans. We have a special needs girl that comes by who didn’t like to read, but now she comes here and reads our Rescue Books to our miniature horses, which thrills her mother.  A teacher from one of the schools that came to visit found one of her students “rescuing” a snail from the sand box, “just like the Farm Lady”.  Single dads, moms and families come and enjoy a free venue of unplugged fun that encourages discussion and enhances relationships.  Kids make cards and bring gifts to their favorite rescue- especially after reading their story in one of our books.  All the visitors know the animals by name and many have come to feel a part of the rescue farm family. 

What inspired you to start Second Chance Ranch and the Rescue Series Books?
Ever since I was a small child, I have loved and rescued animals.  We lived on a horse acre in Bellevue and had a small barn in our backyard.  I fed every cat, bird, bunny and slug that was in need of food and a friend. I think word got out in the animal community that I was helping fellow animal friends as many abandoned pets mysteriously moved into my barn regularly.  Even dogs found refuge there.  It’s just who I am and what I love.

If you look in the barn at Second Chance Ranch, you will see a colored, childlike drawing framed on the wall – it’s of a barn that looks much like Second Chance Ranch.  I drew that barn when I was 12!  It was my dream! So, dreams do come true if we keep them alive and stay true to our purpose. 

As a child, I also wrote poetry and stories about nature and animals.  I always wanted to be an author, but not just any author; an author that inspired others and made a difference.  After our fourth child finished college, I started writing again.  The Rescue Of Winks was my first book.  Like all six books, it’s a true story of one of my rescues that takes the reader into what it might feel like to go from scared and unloved, to loved and wanted.  All the books are true stories about a rescue animal on our farm, written from the animal’s perspective, and always ends happy!  Each book also has real photos of the animals in the back of the book so the reader can see the authenticity of the story.

What lessons/values are you learning through this process?

Be your purpose!  I had no idea how all this would come together.  I was just doing what I love to do; what I was made to do! Now others have enjoyed sharing in this mission too.  Not everyone has the means to create a rescue ranch and share it with others, but they are excited about the opportunity to be a part of Second Chance Ranch and love sharing the Rescue Series Books with their family, friends, and even their schools. We don’t always have to LOOK for our purpose; often times it finds us when we aren’t even looking!

I have also enjoyed and been enriched by the many visitors and supporters of Second Chance Ranch.  There are so many different types of people, each with their own story, experiences, and reason for visiting. There are new parents, single parents, grandparents, teenagers, kids on bikes and those who have never seen a steer up close before. The ranch gives me a chance to meet people I might never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. 

What do you do to take care of yourself and how do you make time to do it?
Unlike many of the moms reading this, I no longer have children at home.  My husband and I raised four wonderful children, all with college degrees and jobs (whew!).  Our daughter, Julie, and her husband, who live nearby in Snoqualmie Ridge, have given us our first grandchild!

If I could give moms with kids at home a little advice, it would be this: Your first mission is to raise your kids, and to raise them with an attitude of gratitude, a work ethic, and a burning desire to make the world better for others.  That is no easy task!  Perhaps you may need to put some of your dreams on hold - but don’t let them die!  We should not underestimate our mission of being a parent.  Sure, there is much to be done in the world, but don’t feel pressure to do it all now if it interferes with your central (and most important!) mission of raising a family.  I waited until my kids were grown and then pulled my vision out of the closet and went to work on it. We can make a lot of progress while raising kids, but we don’t need to do it all at once.  You will know when the time is right and it won’t burn you out, it will energize you!  Be patient!

What can we do to support Second Chance Ranch and the Rescue Series?
There are so many ways to participate!  
  • First, come visit and share your love and time with our rescues. This is what creates trust in the animal and makes their days on the farm fun and exciting.  
  • Like us on Facebook and you can keep in touch with what is going on at the ranch.  
  • We also have started having birthday parties here so you can private message me if you are interested in that.  We do field trips too!  Talk to your teachers about coming to the Ranch. We don’t charge for these things but encourage parents to purchase one of our books for their kids.  
  • Buy our books!  You can order them from us directly by placing an order in our barn, FB messaging us, or from our website  Our books are also available on Amazon and (just search by book or author name). 
  • I also love to read to classrooms and be involved in any book fairs or events where we can promote our books. 
  • Lastly, tell people about our books and Second Chance Ranch.  Life is funny, you never know what these connections can do.  See you at the Ranch!
Find out about our other MOMS ON A MISSION:

is on a mission to "live life to the fullest" which led her - and two other friends - to launch a local winery called Pearl and Stone Wine Co.

 is on a mission to make a difference in her community by raising money and awareness for the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.

KAYSEE HYATT is on a mission to build community awareness for pediatric stroke and hope for impacted children and families.
JULIE PARKER is on a mission to complete a marathon in every state by the time she turns 50 years old. 50 by 50.
JAMIE MENOLD is on a mission to raise awareness of and funds for pediatric cancer research.

KRISTEN BRANTNER is on a mission to make a difference in the future of rare disease and created a local non-profit called RAREevents.

CHRISTIE MALCHOW is on a mission to make sure the city hears the voices of young families and is running for Sammamish City Council.