Full Moon Farms Petting Zoo!!
Have you ever dreamt of owning your very own petting zoo? Well, Jason Clark (a.k.a. Cave Man) and Kris Mooney made that dream a reality about four years ago with the creation of Full Moon Farms Petting Zoo and Pony Rides. Their farm sits just off County Highway 10 between Pleasant Hill and Nebo, Illinois and you can’t drive by without noticing the big red barn highlighted by the beautiful barn quilt that Kris made. What an incredible setting!
I had the pleasure to visit with Jason and Kris, both of whom were born and raised in Pike County, last week on a sunny, but cool, afternoon - well before our 12” of snow came! When I asked them how the petting zoo all came about, Jason said it was because he wanted goats! In fact, they still have two of their original goats – Madonna and Harriet! Well, the goats have multiplied…into more goats, hair sheep, llamas, pot bellied pigs and more! Place the animals on a 500+ acre farm and you have a great beginning to a petting zoo!
They obtain many of their animals from auctions and hope some day that they are able to breed and raise most of the animals that will become members of their family. Many of the animals they currently own have been bottle-fed…a process that encourages and promotes human contact. However, breeding their own animals will ensure that they know where they animals are coming from and they can raise them for the petting zoo environment.
So what kinds of animals make good petting zoo animals? Obviously, I’ve already mentioned the goats, llamas, hair sheep and potbelly pigs. But wait! There’s more! And on top of that, each animal (except the chickens) has a name. Initially, Kris told me that she names a lot of the animals after literary characters and after finding out that she taught high school English and arts, that makes perfect sense. But when we were touring the farm and they were introducing me to the additional members of their family, we realized that Jason had actually named quite a few of them! Don’t worry though! Kris caught up over the weekend…keep reading to find out how!
So let’s see…there’s Gonzo the Emu, Eli the Camel, Otto the Yak, Gulliver and Oden the Zebu (miniature African cows), Sid and Sully the Llamas, Porterhouse and T-bone the Jersey Cows, Pork and Bean – a pair of pot bellied pigs, and even Gobbles the Turkey! But that’s not all! They also have Canadian Icelandic sheep, miniature horses, miniature donkeys, pony ride ponies, chickens, and an alpaca. But have you ever seen a white peacock? I hadn’t until last week and they have two! A male and female both make their home on the farm along with several other peacocks. And then there’s the Patagonian Cavy…and not one…not two…but THREE of them…named Rhett, Scarlett and Bonaroo. I had never seen or heard of them until I saw these adorable little critters on Full Moon Farms Facebook page. You have to check them out!
Kris and Jason are excited about offering the petting zoo experience to kids…young and old alike. Currently, their main focus is as a traveling petting zoo – they were just recently at Pleasant Hill High School for an FFA event – and they have indicated that there is no limit on how far they’ll travel to share their love of animals. In addition to traveling, they are hoping to host several activities on the farm throughout the year as well. As part of those plans, they will be holding their Eggstravaganza on Easter Sunday, March 31 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. There will be an Easter egg hunt at 2:30 p.m. with three fields of hidden eggs! The egg hunt will be split into age groups so everyone can enjoy the fun. There will also be pony rides, picture stations and face painting in addition to the main attraction – the petting zoo!
They will also be offering Summer Day Camps June 24th through June 28th for children ages 6-13. And, they have been hired for a living nativity at one of the local churches in Pittsfield in December. But what if you’re looking for a unique birthday party idea – think about holding a “Petting Zoo Birthday Party” for a child. They are holding their first birthday party in April and I’m sure it will be a huge success! For more information on these and other events planned for the year, “Like” and follow them on Facebook!
Not only are they going to have a busy year with the petting zoo, but they also own and operate Black Tie Carriage Company. One place you will find them offering horse-drawn carriage rides is Rock Springs Park in Alton, Illinois for the park’s Christmas lights display. But if you don’t want to wait until Christmas for a horse and carriage ride, don’t worry. It was just announced this week that Harpole's Heartland Lodgewill be offering free carriage rides several nights beginning April 1 OR you can book your own carriage ride when you reserve your room at the lodge. Check it out…what could be more fun or romantic>The future for Kris and Jason and all the members of the Full Moon Farms Petting Zoo and Pony Rides family is a work in progress. Isn’t that the way with a growing family? But keep them in mind if you have a function and need a fun activity for kids of all ages. If you’re a guest at Heartland Lodge, you might even contact them about stopping by for a visit and tour. What a great weekend activity or plan your vacation at Heartland Lodge and let the kids enjoy the Summer Day Camps. And don’t forget to “Like” them on Facebook – let’s help them grow into something your whole family can enjoy!
Oh, and remember the literary names issue? Check out the newest members of the carriage company team on Facebook…a pair of black Percheron draft horses that have been named Percy and Juno. Obviously Kris knows the history of the names…I’m still trying to figure it out but even if I don’t know the history of the names, I was lucky enough to be there when they bought them and I’m glad these two beautiful animals found a good home!
So I feel that I’ve made a couple of new friends, learned a lot about animals that I’d never heard of, and even have my favorites at Full Moon Farms. Even though all of the animals have their own personalities, I think my favorites are Otto the Yak and Gonzo the Emu. Otto acts just like a big puppy, running around and playing with you. And even though I have my favorites, I asked Jason and Kris what the favorite animal is when they travel…and do you know what they said? The goats! Pretty fitting since the goats started this whole adventure!