Brookside Adventures: Santa Ynez

Friends thoughtfully invited our daughter (a/k/a Finally Five) and me to the Santa Ynez valley for an animal spotting adventure. The dream of getting my emotionally laden mind and debilitated body out of its viscous cycle was worth every herculean effort it took just to get me dressed.

Our first stop was a magnificent ranch with a potpourri of the most interesting and varied animals.  Finally Five squealed with joy upon our arrival.  Oh, how I wish I could bottle that sound and emotion…

A BROWN and white striped zebra. One of six on the ranch. They were beautiful!


Finally Five climbing the fence to get a closer look at the zebras. She has obviously worn her "dress up" shoes to other farms.


A beautiful peacock with a train perfect for the upcoming Costume Institute Party of the Year.


Long horn cattle. The poor guy on the left had a seemingly-permanent tilt to his head.


After the ranch, our animal kingdom tour continued with a trip to the Seein’ Spots Farm (yes, that is the real name!). Their mission is to: educate everyone possible on how wonderful, intelligent, funny and affectionate mini donkeys are and to match each one with the perfect home.  Yes, I wrote “match” and “home” in the same sentence with miniature donkeys. Who knew that miniature donkeys could be pets?

In addition to the donkeys, there are ducks, hens, turkeys, and one very large and atrociously adorable pig.  I looked around for Charlotte…and her Web.

This precious pig was rescued from a terrible situation. She was clearly a pet at one time because she is so affectionate - yes, affectionate - and delightful.


Finally Five petting the Precious Pig. Every time FF rubbed her belly, the pig squealed with delight. I cackled. This adorable animal is the reason I could never, ever eat another piece of bacon. Ever.


One of the especially affectionate donkeys. I was goosed by him on several occasions.


Chatting with the visitors


A beautiful & colorful hen


Every single time Finally Five said, "Gobble-Gobble," this Turkey said, "Gobble-Gobble-Gobble." They were both LOUD.


A hidden duck.


The pièce de résistance : a 3 day-old newborn miniature donkey. Before this day, I would never imagined that such a thing existed. I love to be surprised!


Baby donkey kicking next to its adopted Momma.



Baby donkey racing on air. Its feet barely touched the earth.


This was such a Silver Lining addition to my week of misery.  Words cannot aptly describe the transition from the chemo pit of despair to a place of  pure joy filled with animals, fresh air, sunshine, and friends.

I was reminded yet again that Silver Linings come when you need them the most, in the most unpredictable of places (this time last week I would never have imagined that I would be telling you about a 3 day-old baby miniature donkey!).


An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.

~ Martin Buber

Leave a comment


  1. susan says

    magical…the wonder of it all…so glad you get to be reminded of the magic through finley and that you then remind us of that by retelling the story! my heart smiles !
    ps…love the fashion shot of finleys shoes too

  2. Kim says

    You said it… Getting dressed: herculean! You deserve the gold medal in the Olympics of "TRYING TO HAVE A NORMAL DAY WITH MY DAUGHTER AND FRIENDS WHILE GOING THROUGH FBC AND CHEMO!"
    I respect you so much Hollye!


  3. Meika says

    Your pictures are absolutely stunning – my two favorites are the pig and FF's adorbale shoes. You really are a talent behind the lens. So glad you had this beautiful experience.

  4. Anne Lipford says

    What a totally delightful experience, which you have once again perfectly captured with your words and photos. I am so glad you had this day when you most needed it! xo

  5. Merryl says

    Love, love, love this story almost as much as I love you!! What could be happier than being with our children, visiting cute little animals and spending time good friends??!!