LAURELVILLE — Hocking County is known for its luscious green forests, caves, hiking trails and wildlife; however, just west of Logan, exotic and native animals can be found at the peaceful Muddy Boots Petting Farm.
With 19 species on the property, farm owner Tammie Speakman said the place grew really big — really fast.
Speakman and partner John Exline opened Muddy Boots two years ago, and since then the farm has been a popular spot on the map as an attraction in Hocking County, as well as throughout the state.
“It has grown like crazy, and we are really floored,” she remarked.
Speakman grew up on the farm as a child before she moved out of state, then returned to her family roots just a little over two years ago.
Speakman and Exline have friends in Michigan who also own a petting farm, and they have grown to become partners with each other throughout the last few years of the company’s startup.
“My friends came down and told me I was blessed to have such a place like this and I needed to do something with it,” Speakman commented. “At the time, both Exline and I worked in different states and did not think we would have the time to do this.”
Speakman already had a good bit of animals on her farm prior to starting her business, and friends and locals who knew about her animals would come by from time-to-time to play with them.
She noted that although she did not display the animals, plenty of people still got to spend time with them.
When Speakman’s friends from Michigan planted the seed, it grew into its own idea after she hopped on the skid-steer and created a rabbit pen.
“(John) Exline came home and asked what I was doing, and I just told him I was creating something small — the rabbit pen. That was the trickle effect and it kept growing and growing from there,” she added.
Speakman noticed interest in her farm with people constantly stopping by to ask what she was building, so she and Exline decided to open the petting farm. The petting farm is open only on weekends and for those who want to see what kind of animals are available, they can view Muddy Boots’ Facebook page.
With the help of social media, the news spread quickly, so it’s no surprise how fast the website became the best advertisement for the little hidden gem in the Hocking Hills.
“With just a few pictures we added to the page, the whole business blew up,” she reported.
Muddy Boots provides local, inexpensive and personal interaction with friendly animals, while running around on a farm of tranquility nestled in the Hocking Valley.
Some of the animals included on the farm are: camels; peacocks; prairie dogs; miniature horses; miniature goats; coon coon pigs; rabbits; skunks; miniature donkeys; miniature cows; emus; chickens; ducks; cats; dogs; horses; cows; fish; a cockatoo and a zedonk, which is a hybrid of a zebra and a donkey.
Speakman’s original plans for the petting farm did not include exotic animals. However, that soon changed.
“That quickly went out the window when I visited Michigan again and gravitated toward the camels,” she told The Logan Daily News. “My friend allowed me to keep some camels for a summer before making a decision as to whether or not to buy them.
“The summer went by, then fall and winter and I couldn’t give them back because I just fell in love with them, so we bought them,” she continued.
The most unique animal, the zedonk, came from an elderly couple who could not handle the size of the animal any longer.
The farm has become a popular spot for Hocking County residents as well as those visiting from far and near. Speakman said they get approximately 200 visitors per day.
Muddy Boots is located at 28310 Moccasin Road, Laurelville.