I grew up in a tiny, little village in the middle of nowhere in Germany. We were surrounded by nature and most of my childhood memories took part in the forest. My parents took us on long walks daily with our Bernese Mountaindog. Mom was a great chef and she taught us which mushrooms to pick and we would cook it later. We watched sheeps giving birth and in the summer we would sit on the tractor to collect the hay. The huge piles of rolled up hay was the best playground for all the kids in the village.
It never felt right to me to raise my kids in a concrete jungle surrounded by highways. I rather live somewhere by myself than in the middle of the city. I looked for farms and ranch’s for about three years. I saw many parts of Southern California, sometimes I drove up to 6 hours a day to look at free land. All I knew was the longing in my heart to be in nature for the rest of my life. I wanted to get away from the craziness in the city. We lived in so many cities and different places, my dream of giving my kids finally a home kept me moving and searching for a really long time.
When we finally moved to our house with 12 acres outside of LA in the middle of the Malibu Canyons, I honestly had no idea what to do with all the land. We live up on a hill and all the land lays below us in the valley.
I already knew how to raise a vegetable garden, since I was already doing it in the city. But the problem here was: All the land down below had no water line and no electricity. And it is even a flood hazard zone, which means if there will be a lot of rain, things like houses can be flushed away. Which is not very common in southern Cali.
I went to the department of development to talk about my options. Of course this trip was not very successful. My contact person in the building & safety division told me I can do whatever I want, but I can’t build a structure in the soil. In case it gets flushed away. One good thing I found out: We are the only horse property in this area, so I am allowed to have farm animals.
A few weeks earlier we went to a vegan bbq at a rescue ranch nearby. As fortune wants it, I get a phone call while leaving the permit office from a friend who tells me the rescue ranch has to close down and they are looking for places for their animals. I took the kids and drove up there again.
My kids decided very quickly to adopt the two miniature horses. Oh well, I never owned horses and I can still remember the pain when I fell off a horse when I was about 6 years old and ended up with a concussion.
I thought about it for a few minutes.: ”Horses are vegan…the poop doesn’t smell bad…they have a lot of space on our land so I don’t have to take them on walks daily…ok let’s do it!”
I had three days to convert our raw land into a horse facility. All I could think of was the possibility of a mountain lion wandering around the neighborhood. Not good. I had flashes of pictures in my mind of my kids walking down to the horses one morning and seeing their beloved animals being eaten by a wild lion. No I won’t take any risk. We have to build a safe place for them to stay at night.
It was summer break and the kids were down with me on our future farm all day long. It was a beautiful summer. We built a barn in only a couple of days. I made it so safe, with chicken wire all around the whole barn, that even snakes have no chance to get in. I am pretty sure it’s the cheapest barn you can build, but we love it and the horses love it even more. To build something without permits we had to make sure it’s not bigger than 120 square feet and it turned out to be pretty big for two minis.
We go down every morning to let them out and before it gets dark in the evening we put them back in. Sure enough a few weeks later a neighbour saw a mountain lion in his driveway at 3 am in the morning.
At first we were all very nervous about our new adventure. How will they like us? Will they be aggressive? How do we take care of them?
Thank God for friends & neighbours who taught and helped us in many ways. Being down at the barn all day long was the best way to get to know each neighbour. They all pass by at one point to pet those gorgeous little horses. It took us a while to figure everything out, but the horse mama and her baby loved their new place from the very first second on.
As a family we will never forget the moment when they walked out of the trailer for the first time. They were running down the whole land, back and forth, you could see in their eyes the joy of freedom! And it never changed, they still love to run up and down, galloping in happiness when we enter the ranch. It’s a mama and her daughter & we named them Rose & Daisy-Boo!
Horses are incredible creatures, I never knew they can be so affectionate. They love to cuddle and when we bring in new shavings they roll around in it full of gratitude.
The biggest challenge I had was the water issue. There was no way to get a water line on the lot. My idea was to get a big tank and get it filled every few weeks. I found a tank, which is toxic-free and can keep the water cold for a long time. After some hours of researching water deliveries I had to realize this won’t be an option. Water deliveries are only for 4000 gallons, you have to pay the full load, even if you only want 500 gallons. I don’t need this much water.
After a couple of days bringing down water with a bucket, a brilliant idea came to our mind. Why not connect a hose from all the way at our house to the tank? Fill it up every few weeks and turn it off. All we need is to find a steady 500 feet hose which would also work during winter with frost.
We installed the 500-gallon tank on a huge platform to bring it on a higher level than the water fountain in the barn, so it can flow perfectly fine and it even fills up automatically without electricity or a water line. What a success!!! Filling the tank for the first time was very exciting, as this would mean we are good to keep those horses for a lifetime! Of course the pressure is not intense and when we give them a shower it definitely takes a bit longer, but we are just glad we made it happen.
Everyone love our two sweet mini’s. Neighbours are telling me stories all the time, like one guy goes running down there and Rosie and Daisy-Boo are always running with him and keeping his pace. Another neighbour lives part time in NY and when he is here he walks down with his wife in the mornings and feeds them carrots.
I am so glad we made this decision!