By Reggie Ellis
lindsay – Holly Ford’s childhood dreams weren’t all that different from other little girls. She wanted to ride horses and live on a ranch with lots of animals. The only difference is that Holly has been living her dream for the last seven years and her daughter’s have never known anything else.
“She thinks she is the luckiest kid to be around all of these animals,” Holly said of her 6-year-old daughter Hayden. “I see her living the way I wanted to live when I was little.”
The best part for Holly is that she gets to watch Hayden and Sierra, 1, experience all of the wonders of being surrounded by chickens, rabbits, goats, ponies, turtles and birds because she takes them all – girls and animals – with her to work.
“My husband and I love animals and enjoy seeing kids happy so we took a leap of faith and started a petting zoo and pony ride business,” she said.
A petting zoo was not originally in her plans. In early 2012, Holly rescued a few animals and brought them home to Exeter. When her husband Sean found out, he said they should come up with a way to make money off the animals in order to cover the cost of their feed. Later that year, Holly and Sean Ford opened Ford Farms Mobile Petting Zoo and Pony Rides working community events, school carnivals and church events all based out of their ranch northwest of Lindsay. What makes the business unique is that more than 80% of the Fords’ animals were rescued.
“We wanted to make sure that no animals were abused or neglected,” she said. “But we also never took more animals than we could handle.”
In the last seven years, the Fords have rescued more than 50 animals including miniature horses, exotic chickens, rabbits, goats, guinea pigs, cockatoos, tortoises and pot belly pigs. Most of the animals are surrendered by owners who either can’t afford to feed them or don’t have the time to take care of them. She said she is not always looking for more animals but would have trouble turning down an animal that needed to be rescued from a bad situation. Once Ford Farms accept an animal, their team of animal-loving girls is ready to get even the most neglected animal into a loving addition to the petting zoo.
“Hayden helps take care of the animals and Sierra is learning how to pet nicely and be kind to animals,” Holly said. “It has been such a good experience for all of us.”
Local business owners were able to get a glimpse of the good life enjoyed by the Fords on June 8 when Holly and Sean hosted the Exeter Chamber of Commerce’s After Hours Mixer at their ranch in northwest Lindsay. Holly used the mixer to formally announce that Ford Farms is now available as a venue for birthday parties, church meetings, company events, weddings, school carnivals and classroom trips.
“That part of the business has really grown since last August,” Holly said.
To book the mobile petting zoo or to schedule a part at the ranch, call Holly Ford at 559-577-0445. For more information on Ford Farms visit www.ford-farms.com or like them on Facebook. Ford Farms is located at 22827 Road 180 in northwest Lindsay.
“We are very thankful for what God has given us,” Holly said.