Equines and Birds of Critter Creek Farm Sanctuary
Chris has always loved donkeys, and shortly after we opened CCFS, we had the opportunity to provide a home to two donkeys. This started Chris' "donkey problem," in which he perks up, wide-eyed, any time he hears of a donkey needing rescue. If it were up to him, we would have 100 donkeys.
Our aim at CCFS was to stick to cows, pigs, and donkeys, since we figured we knew those species pretty well and could provide them with quality care. But then we bought Critter Hills, and found a herd of horses and a couple turkeys who needed a home. Suddenly, we had to learn about horses and turkeys, too!
Whisper was part of a breeding pair of mini-donkeys whose owner left them behind when they were no longer good for breeding. She was taken in by Koreymonde Capuchin Rescue, but the rescue didn’t have a good space for donkeys. So, she was brought to CCFS to have plenty of space to roam.
Whisper often looks at us like we’re clearly inferior (she’s probably right), but begrudgingly accepts pets. Just don't try to brush her. Trust us: It won't go well.
Mighty and Blaze
This naughty--but affectionate--duo of best buddy donkeys enjoy vexing cows wherever they go at Critter Creek. Mighty was rescued with Hazel the cow's crew as part of a neglect/cruelty case. He has clearly recovered, as there are no signs of his past poor health. It’s worth repeating that he’s naughty—indeed, he is the naughtiest critter at all of Critter Creek. But he’s somehow also sweet, and of course adorable.
Blaze was found by the SF SPCA as a malnourished stray by the local fire station (hence his name). Clearly he isn’t malnourished any longer, with his growing potbelly. He’s extremely friendly and also has an awesome naughty streak. He has been known to follow guests and even bite them on the shirt (or butts) if they don't pet him.
Gladys and Periwinkle
Gladys and Periwinkle were rescued by the SF SPCA as part of a giant hoarding/cruelty case. They were being kept with more than 200 other animals on just over 2 acres of dirt. Due to their previous living conditions, they were ecstatic when they arrived at Critter Hills and saw all the grass, space, hills, and ponds. Both donkeys arrived pregnant, and had possibly the longest pregnancies in donkey history at 14 months each.
Gladys is very friendly and quite chatty, especially when she thinks there are treats nearby. Peri is somewhat more reserved, but is coming out of her shell more and more. As with everything, cookies help. A lot.
Although Gladys is talkative, she has nothing on chatty Petunia. If you hear a donkey braying at Critter Hills, chances are it's Petunia, Peri's young adult daughter who was rescued from the same cruelty case. Sweet Petunia is very affectionate and can often be heard protesting that we don't live in the pasture with her. Or maybe she is protesting that she doesn't live in the house with us?
When we first bought Critter Hills, Chris met an elderly resident donkey with bad hooves. Apparently, she told him she wanted to stay with us (Chris has a donkey problem, remember?). We were thankfully able to negotiate Maebell's release and are getting her hooves progressively better. She is the sweetest, gentlest donkey and just wants affection for as long as you will offer it.
Camille and Cameron
In December of 2019, Gladys and Periwinkle finally finished their interminable pregnancies. Gladys gave birth to Cameron (right); Peri gave birth to Camille (left).
Both babies are buckets of floof and happiness. They love frolicking and chasing each other around the fields. Both are also very tightly bonded to their moms. Indeed, Cameron patented the "neck hug," jumping up and wrapping himself around his mom's neck.
We are thankful we are able to keep these tightly-bonded families together at CCFS.
The boss of the herd's "cool crew" is Imperial. He is a massive Percheron--at least 17 hands--and he uses that size to rule the herd.
In spite of his size, he is very affectionate and loves being brushed. He does not, however, love having his hooves trimmed. Have you ever wondered how to trim the dinner plate-sized hooves of an 1800-pound animal who prefers to crush you? Hopefully you never will!
The second boss of the herd's cool crew is Ms. Fancy. She's not quite as big as Imperial--only 15-16 hands--but she makes up for her smaller stature by having a bigger attitude. She tolerates disrespect from no one--not even Imperial.
That said, she is friendly and enjoys affection and brushing. Just don't disrespect her... or try to put a halter on her.
Zura is a huge draft horse, probably a Percheron. Like Imperial, she is every bit of 17 hands.
Zura has a massive personality to go with her massive size. She is very friendly, but also naughty. She is part of Imperial's crew, and sometimes acts as the high school mean girl, biting "less cool" herd mates on the butt. She also loves rolling in the mud and refusing to allow Sam to put a halter on her.
Salem is another big draft horse, probably between 16 and 17 hands. This gorgeous black beauty has a tender heart to go with his tender eyes. He's part of Imperial's crew, but he is one of those cool kids who doesn't know he's a cool kid. He tends to be nice to everyone--horse and nothorse alike. That is, he's nice until it's time to put a halter on him... (That seems to be a theme, doesn't it?)
Clark Kent is on the smaller side for this herd--about 15 hands. This causes him to feel like he has to prove himself to Imperial, which he does by biting other horses on their butts.
With nothorses, CK is a super sweet guy. He is known for resting his head on your shoulder and falling asleep.
Cool girl Crystal is part of Imperial's cool kids' club. She's also a big girl at around 16 hands. She's generally more on the mellow side, though, mostly acting up when she's feeling jealous.
Her favorite pastime is lying down in the field to sleep and snoring so loudly we feel the need to check on her to make sure she's not choking.
Big Ben and Merlin
Big Ben is a huge Clydesdale mix. Due to his size, Imperial cast Ben into the "not cool crew," and members of Imperial's clique sometimes pick on him. Being a social outcast doesn't stop his best friend Merlin from loving Ben completely, though. These two are never far apart from each other, and are often openly affectionate.
Both boys are very sweet and generally pretty mellow. Merlin is even so gentle he puts up no fight when it's halter time!
We're unsure of Ray's age, but he seems to be an older guy. For this reason, Imperial deemed him not cool enough to be part of the main clique. Instead, Ray just wanders between and among groups, doing his own thing.
Ray loves getting affection. However, like a distinguished gentleman, Ray waits his turn and never bites his rivals on the butt.
Patrick is the herd's social butterfly. He may have heard of rules of herd engagement, but he wants nothing to do with them. He is pleasant to everyone, hanging around Imperial's clique, Merlin and Ben, and even Ray.
This gorgeous freckled guy is also sweet and well-mannered. Like Clark Kent, he has been known to put his head on your shoulder and fall asleep there.
Sweet Coco is a beautiful paint with a multicolored mane. He's the introverted, loner kid in high school who prefers to hang out by himself. But, like most introverts, there's a cool kid underneath. When you get to know Coco, you find out he's more than just great hair--he's a sweet, funny, well-mannered guy.
Cletus and Cleo
We didn't intend to have turkey residents, as we feel most comfortable with larger animals. But when we heard Cletus and Cleo's story, we couldn't resist helping them.
Cletus and Cleo were the much-beloved bird friends of a man who passed away. Since his passing, his family and friends didn't know what to do with Cletus and Cleo, so the birds wound up living in dog crates for several months.
Since coming to CCFS, Cletus has claimed the entirety of Critter Hills as his, exclusively. Cleo is much more on the shy side, and we are working on helping her open up.