Please Note: This review was written in 2012. Beau’s Barnyard is now A LightHorse Healthcare, Inc. Therapeutic and Community Farm -BY CLINICAL APPOINTMENT ONLY. Beau’s cannot accept walk up visitors due to privacy regulations for its clients. Follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/beausbarn to hear about special community days where the public is welcome to visit.
In one visit to Kingsland’s new petting farm, you can bottle-feed a lamb, snuggle a baby rabbit, pet a pig, gather eggs in the chicken coop, take a hayride and let a rooster crow while he stands on your head.
Beau’s Barnyard is truly a magical place.
We took our children to visit on a lazy Wednesday morning, and we were delighted to have the place to ourselves. It’s a petting farm that was designed from the start to be a petting farm. The distinction is important, because Beau’s is much cleaner than a working farm and it’s structured to accommodate small visitors.
When we arrived, Gracie the goose honked out her usual noisy welcome to us, walking us to the barn as if she were the designated escort. Then we met the whole gang: Skeeter the horse, Isabell the cow, and of course the petting zoo’s namesake, Beau the donkey. After a quick lesson in holding his hand flat, my 3-year-old fed carrots to Skeeter and Beau and offered a Cheerio-like snack to Isabell.
We eventually settled into a penned-in area, where we took turns bottle-feeding some precious (and very hungry-acting!) lambs. As we sat on a bench, one of the owners, Debbie Middleton, took different animals in and out of the pen to visit with us.
My 9-month-old daughter clung tightly to me, staring wide-eyed at the animals but not daring to touch them…. that is, until I was handed a tiny baby rabbit. She instantly dove for the little ball of fur, and the poor bunny barely came out with both ears attached. My son was a little more conscientious with the animals: he quickly discovered that the goats wouldn’t eat from the hand he used to feed Isabell, but they cleared their snacks out of his other hand even before he could hold it out to them. Even my husband had a “hands on” experience when Middleton placed a rooster on his head. It stood there for a while before letting out a loud “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” and jumping off.
When all the other animals had had their snacks, Perfect the pig came to join us, strutting into the pen to clean up the leftovers. My son laughed out loud as he stroked the pig’s coarse hair.
Next, Middleton guided my son to the chicken coop, where he took a basket and gathered eggs right out from under the chickens.
“I have eggs!” he announced proudly when he emerged from the coop, the basket swinging in his hand.
When we had seen all there was to see, we climbed aboard the wagon for a hayride. My little guy couldn’t stop chattering about all the friends he had made and all he had learned about the animals at Beau’s. When I asked him if he had a favorite, he quickly answered, “I love them all!”
Beau’s Barnyard is thoughtfully laid out, with wide, flat viewing areas any stroller or wheelchair could fit through. The chicken coop is a converted child’s playhouse. Best of all, nearly everything is designed at a child’s eye level.
They accommodate school field trips and day care groups as well as individuals. Visitors can make reservations to see Beau’s Tuesdays through Saturdays at a rate of $7 per-person. And for those of us who are hooked on the petting farm, they host birthday parties. In fact, they host two private events almost every Saturday, typically bringing in a bounce house to add to the fun.
And they’re just getting started: Beau’s recently announced it’s partnering up with Lighthorse Learning, a St. Marys-based program that offers animal therapy for people with mental and physical disabilities. They’re also looking into offering an educational summer camp in the future.
“The premise and motive is to get these new generations interested in the word ‘farm’ and all that that might mean,” Middleton told me. “I truly believe that for ‘safety’s sake’ people need to relearn some of the old ways of providing for themselves. Not everyone can farm, but nearly everyone can grow vegetables or raise a few chickens in their backyard.”
Middleton and Co-Owner Peggy Morton used to be in the home-building business. They were nearly finished with a large home when the economy went sour and the buyer decided to leave the state, thus leaving the builders with a house they couldn’t sell for its worth. The lady builders thought long and hard about what to do next, and they decided that beautiful home would not go to waste. They kept it for themselves and began the work to build their petting zoo on the grounds surrounding the home.
They hand-selected each animal for the barnyard, bringing them home very young and raising them from the start to be comfortable around people. That method worked: the animals show an obvious affection for kids and seem genuinely at ease and ready to play.
There is a palpable and beautiful bond between the animals and the children. Just watch a toddler feed a bottle to a baby lamb or a little girl snuggle with an armload of bunnies. You’ll get the picture when you visit Beau’s Facebook page, which is loaded with photos of children having a ball at the petting farm. It is a special place that your kids will continue talking about long after you leave. I know this to be true, because my son is still talking about it, and he’s asking when we’re going back.
Special thanks to Eli Rose Photography Boutique for allowing Mamamelia to use the images of Beau’s Barnyard. Kingsland Photographer Alexa Sanford is so enchanted with Beau’s, she could almost be called their “artist in residence.” You can learn more about Eli Rose at http://www.elirosephoto.com.
If you want to go:
What: The ultimate “petting farm,” Beau’s lets visitors interact with all of its animals. Included are a donkey, horses, rabbits, a pig, lambs, goats, chickens and others. Reservations strongly recommended: Call, email or check in with them on their Facebook page to schedule a visit.
Where: 80 Winona Way, Kingsland, GA – Beau’s is just a little way behind the Kingsland Lowe’s. You have to take a couple unmarked dirt roads to get there, but look for the “Beau’s” signs, and you’ll find your way. (See Map Below)
Price: $7 per-person for individual visitors, birthday parties and special events vary depending on the package you choose. See Beau’s website for more information.
Contact: Call 912-729-6418 or 912-227-0805. They’re often in the barn (of course!), so leave a message if they don’t answer or email them at email@example.com