Fifth Day Farm is a working farm, no doubt about it. It’s also a one-of-a-kind petting zoo that has everything from farm animals to alpacas, llamas, and pot-bellied pigs. When you turn into the drive, it looks like an ordinary farm with a beautiful home and a barn. Then you notice that the entire backyard is fenced in. Why? Because the animals have the opportunity to roam as freely as possible without restrictions or fear of confinement. The owners, Steve and Janet Hendley, look at the animals as pets and treat them as if they were their own children.
She Missed Her Animals
Janet Hendley grew up around animals and always loved chickens and horses. When she divorced her first husband, the opportunity to have animals was gone. Then she met Steve Hendley and everything changed. They married in October of 2015 and from that point on it was their shared love of animals that cemented their relationship. They begin to invest in creating the farm that Janet had always dreamed of.
“I’ve always wanted alpacas, but they were too expensive in the ’80s. We got our first alpaca last year, and recently I got four more. Now we have seven alpacas and two llamas.” she said.
She Asked for Chickens, He Built Her A Farm
The couple started bringing in animals about two years ago. When asked what started it all, Janet said, “It started with chickens! I started with 10.” Steve chimes in with, “And before the coop was finished she had 40 more!”
The first of the animals were transported in the backseat of Steve’s new pickup. Over the next few months, another animal made it’s way to the farm, again riding in the back seat of the truck. It was then that he decided it was time to buy a small horse trailer. What started with two goats and a pot-bellied pig has grown to close to a dozen or more goats, sheep and eight pot-bellied pigs, with one more on the way up to the farm from Florida.
The farm as it is today hasn’t always been that way. Over the past year, Steve and Janet have worked to build fences and pens. Steve closed in the barn and built coops and cages for the chickens and rabbits. The farmhouse and barn have turned into a work place where Janet can run her photography business and enjoy the animals she now calls family.
Steve said, “My goal is to get the farm operating to the point where Janet can quit her job and manage the business full-time.”
All the things they have accomplished so far at Fifth Day Farms have been completed with both of them working full-time in Valdosta.
An Unexpected Reunion
As you wander through the yard and the pens, you can interact with most of the animals. They are friendly and love attention, especially Deacon, the rather large and cuddly Pyrenees dog that has free roam of the farm. You will also notice a small “herd” of miniature ponies that have a special place in Janet’s heart.
When she picked up the first three miniature ponies, she thought that was all she would get. Luck would have it that a day or two later she got a phone call about another miniature pony with a blue eye that also needed a home. Not one to turn an animal away, she went and picked him up. She put him in a separate enclosure so he could get used to the farm and the other animals. The next day, she noticed him pacing along the fence and acting like he wanted to join the others. She had made a few phone calls and finally, a little while later got in touch with a woman who recognized him as “Dakota Blue”. Janet talked to her for a while and learned that the reason he was so interested in the other ponies was that one of them was actually his mother and the herd was the one he was born into eight years earlier.
Janet had brought him home to the family he was taken from years earlier. Once she opened the gate, Dakota Blue went straight to his mother and his herd mates. He was home in every sense of the word.
Sharing Their Blessings
Last September, Steve and Janet began sharing the animals with the public. They took several of them to festivals and shows around the area, but now they want to work from home.
Steve said, “The festivals are great. They’re good for exposure, but I’d rather do things here at the farm.”
The backyard is set up to accommodate birthday parties and other events where children and adults can interact with the animals.
“What’s cool about this place back here is it’s wide, and it’s open. Kids can run and play. They can really enjoy the animals.” he adds.
On a day like today, the Hendley’s hosted a child’s birthday party as well as a 40th birthday celebration that involved a Goat Yoga class taught by Sissie Tait of SJ&T Yoga from Hahira.
After all the excitement of the parties, it was time to get back to work. Anne Schroeder of Star Gazing Farm/Animal Sanctuary in Boyds, Maryland arrived to shear the alpacas, llamas, and sheep. While the first alpaca wasn’t all that enthused about getting her new “do,” the sheep and llamas were much more cooperative. It’s all in a day’s work, especially when you live on a farm!
Visit the Farm
Fifth Day Farm hosts a variety of events, including birthday parties. In addition to Goat Yoga classes, they also offer Open Farm Day once a month to allow people to come and interact with the animals. Tickets are available for most of the events and can be purchased by contacting Janet or Steve at the farm, on Facebook or at the following:
Fifth Day Farm
5732 Clyatville-Nankin Rd