Growing up in Southern California, I always dreamed of having lots of animals and living on a horse property. I began riding horses when I was about 4, and I have been horse crazy ever since. I also have always had a huge passion for all other animals, and would often find myself befriending others with the same passion. Just to give you an idea… in high school I developed a vegetarian diet, rescued and fostered rabbits, and became the president of the Eco-friendly club, where we cleaned beaches, organized camping trips, and advocated for animals and the planet.
The passion for animals has only grown over the years. When I was in college living in downtown Los Angeles, I found a starved, stray kitten, and was able to convince my parents to look after her until I could find her a permanent home. It turned out that my sister and her fiancé at the time (now husband) loved her and took her in as their own. The kitten, named Nala, now lives in sunny San Diego with my sister and brother-in-law, and has the most perfect life. Here she is below:
I adopted my first pet (as an adult) with Chris right before we got married. We were at the shelter picking out an orange tabby kitten for my mother-in-law and fell in love with the little white litter mate. We took him home and named him Oliver.
Soon after we got married, we got our Golden Retriever, Cali. I have plans of doing therapy work with her one day! We also adopted a second cat, Junior, who is a big goofball and constantly craves attention. In November of 2016, Oliver unexpectedly passed away. Oliver was the best cat, so loyal, innocent, and gentle; we miss him all the time. A couple of months later we adopted a kitten to give Junior some company. We named her Piper, and she has been the sweetest, most hilarious, and adorable cat.
Shortly after adopting Piper, we made the biggest life change yet, and moved to the Sunshine Farm. We had started looking at properties after I had encountered some health challenges and began feeling like life is too short to wait for your dreams, as cheesy as that sounds! At first we made an offer and it was accepted on a large, 1850’s farmhouse on 9 acres in a beautiful area. As we were nearing our closing date, it all came crashing down and the opportunity dissolved. The home we were living in had already sold and we only had a month to find a new place. The next day we went to see a little cape cod style home on 12 acres in an area we weren’t all that excited about at the time. Once we got there we quickly fell in love with the property and the little home. We made an offer that day and after some negotiations we entered escrow. On December 16th, 2016 we moved into that little cape cod on 12 acres, and started our little hobby farm. Despite the rocky road finding our farm, it was a real blessing that the first home fell through. It didn’t have a horse barn or pastures, had less acreage, and the house was huge and would have been a lot of work. It turned out that where we ended up was the absolute perfect place for us to be.
Since moving in, we have had lots of animal additions. It started with finding a miniature horse to be a companion for a full-sized horse. We had wanted to adopt a riding horse from a rescue, and the rescues required adopters to already have at least one other horse to ensure there would be a companion. I completely agree with this philosophy as horses are herd animals and rely on each other for safety and companionship. You can read more about our initial search in one of our first posts, The Search for Horses. Anyways, that’s how we ended up with our kind of mini/pony, Justin. His owner showed miniature horses and Justin outgrew the ability to be shown by one inch! The max height for a mini horse is 38 inches, above that they are considered ponies. Justin is 39 inches tall so he is technically a very small pony or an over-sized miniature horse. You can read about the process finding Justin in our blog post We’re Getting a Miniature Horse, and learn more about him in another blog post, Meet our Mini Horse Justin!.
Then we found a Thoroughbred mare at a local rescue that seemed like a good fit. She was beautiful, athletic, ride-able, and in need of a home. Despite spending time beforehand getting to know her and riding her, once she arrived at the Sunshine Farm she began demonstrating a dangerous rearing behavior. I’ve written a full post explaining this that you can read about in a blog post, Short but Sweet.
When the mare didn’t work out we decided to take our time looking for another one. We also decided to look at geldings only (male horses) because we can’t control the fact that a stallion lives next door. We found TJ and he has been the perfect fit! I Introduced TJ to the blog in the post, TJ’s Debut!
In the Spring of 2017 we also decided we wanted to have chickens on the farm. You can read more about bringing our chicks home in the post, Welcome to the Sunshine Farm Baby Chicks! I had heard about their goofy and unique personalities, and wanted to have an ethical source of eggs. While we mostly vegan, meaning we refrain from eating animal products, we do eat the eggs that are laid here on the farm. This is only because we know exactly how our hens are treated, and fully intend to let them live out their lives here at the Sunshine Farm. We would love our chickens even if they didn’t lay eggs at all, for us the eggs are simply a source of sustainable food: for us, for our Airbnb guests, and for our family and friends. Right now we have five adorable and hilarious hens: Zoey, Beyoncé, Penguin, Cash, and River, and recently we added six baby chicks! These little ladies will be indoors for the next couple of months until they are old enough and large enough to be outside and join the flock.
Over the summer of 2017 Chris and I had talked about adding goats to the farm. Around the time we were talking about it, the local humane society had a huge intake of rescued farm animals, including 27 goats. We filled out an application and once the goats were ready to go home we went to the farm and picked out three to adopt. We choose two 6-month old twin siblings, and a 1.5 yr. old doe (female goat). I’ve written a post about our experience adopting the goats, And Now We Have… Rescued Goats!.
In November 2017 we noticed at least one of the goats, the older doe, was growing a baby belly, and we know there was a baby on the way. I took photos and shared them in the post, Willow’s Growing Belly!. On December 18th of 2017 we welcome the first baby born at the farm, a white doeling (baby female goat), that we named Noel. She is the most precious little thing, full of personality, and very friendly!
Congratulations if you made it to the bottom! I know this isn’t a quick read. Now you know all about how our little farm started, and what it looks like after we’ve lived here for a year.
All my best,