Spike & Willow, the Bunnies
Spike and Willow met on an arranged date at the wonderful San Diego House Rabbit Society, a local chapter of the national rescue organization for rabbits. It was love at first sight!
Spike, a fawn-colored Giant Flemish Rabbit, came to Art Farm in March 2016 as a four-pound baby “kit”. The Flemish rabbit breed is the largest in the world, known for its docile and people-friendly demeanor. He has now reached his adult weight of 18-pounds. Willow, who is about 4-years-old, came through House Rabbit Society in August 2016. She and many dozens of other rabbits were rescued from a hoarding situation.
Adopting a rabbit through House Rabbit Society is quite a process. Like adopting from a dog rescue organization, potential owners are vetted to make sure the rabbit is going to a good “forever” home. Rabbits also need to bond and they can be picky. We brought Spike in for a round of “speed dating”. He was introduced to four likely candidates. Willow seemed to be the one! We were skeptical about the size difference at first (her adult weight is 4-pounds) but the pros at House Rabbit said that’s not a concern. They were right. These two are now inseparable.
Georgia, the Donkey
Georgia is a 5-year-old spotted Miniature Mediterranean Donkey bred in Texas and brought to San Diego by some east county horse people when she was not yet a year old. She came to Art Farm after we spotted her for sale on Craigslist. Georgia has a big personality and often lets loose with a robust braying when she feels it’s time for a snack. She had lovely long ears! Like all of our farm animals, Georgia was selected to be an asset to our art program as an art model, and also to provide students with a chance to spend time with an animal they don't often come across in day-to-day life.
Miniature donkeys are native to the Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia. They are identified as either Sicilian or Sardinian donkeys according to their ancestry, although the two types do not differ. They have been extensively bred with each other and with animals of unidentified ancestry in the United States to produce a distinctively American breed of donkeys, which we call the Miniature Mediterranean Donkey.
Magic, the Donkey
Magic is a 14-year-old brown Miniature Mediterranean Donkey. Art Farm adopted magic from his previous owner in 2015 as a companion animal for our other donkey, Georgia. He is a very sweet, gentle boy who reminds us a lot of Winnie the Pooh’s Eeyore. Whereas Georgia’s robust bray can be heard throughout the valley, Magic bray is very squeaky. He loves having his head scratched.
Harry and Mr. Weasley, the Alpacas
Harry and Mr. Weasley, came to Art Farm in 2010 as six-month-old weanlings. Harry is the big silver-colored boy and Mr. Weasley is the smaller brown alpaca. During the warm months they are shorn of their heavy fiber coats. By late fall and through winter they have once again become total fuzz balls. Everyone asks, “Do alpacas spit?” The answer is some do sometimes. Harry is a very curious about people and wants to meet everyone, while Mr. Weasley tends to be shy. Harry is also our resident spitter, mostly because he just gets very excited at meal times. When visiting Art Farm, remember that alpacas don’t like to be patted on the head.
Alpacas are domesticated versions of vicuñas, South American ruminants that live high in the Andes. They are related to the llama, which is a domesticated version of another wild Andean ruminant, the guanaco.
Guanacos and vicuñas are descended from camelids that developed in North America and migrated to South America 3 million years ago. About 6,000 years ago, people in the Andes began to domesticate llamas as pack animals and Alpacas for their amazingly soft fiber.
Zeus, Buffy, Calvin and Hobbes, the Nigerian Dwarf Goats
Our delightful Nigerian Dwarf Goats are hands-down the favorites of Art Farm Summer Camp students year-after-year (although the hens are contenders to the title). And it’s no wonder. These miniature dairy goats are known for their gentleness, playfulness, and colorful personalities. Their small size makes them excellent “visitor” animals in nursing homes and hospitals and safe around children.
A group of goats is called a “tribe”. Our tribe’s oldest goat, Zeus, the larger white goat, is now seven. We refer to Zeus as our “Zen” goat because he often stands off by himself looking meditative and wise. Calvin and Hobbes, the black and white goats, are our “court jesters” because they are unfailingly entertaining. The small white goat, Buffy, is the shy one which is typical of a doe. The Art Farm goat enclosure is designed for student to enter and visit during free time.
“The Committee” (Our Hens)
There is an old quote, attributed to various artists, which states: “If I hadn’t started painting I would have raised chickens.” At Art Farm we are fortunate that no choice was demanded of us. We paint AND raise chickens. In fact, we paint pictures of the chickens.
Our brood of hens start each day grouped at the barn door just waiting for us to slide it open so they can burst into their yard to see what the day will bring. They really are big fluffy rays of sunshine and industriousness. There are bugs to found, colorful eggs to be laid, and dust baths to be taken. They are curious about absolutely everything. They are constantly clucking (chickens make at least 24 different sounds) about this and that - making it all sound very important - which is why we call them “The Committee”.
Like like our goat pen, our hen barn is designed for students to enter and spend time with these marvelous birds. They share their barn with Spike and Willow, the bunnies.