For something a little different and lot special, your little Dr. Dolittles will love a visit to the Sanctuary at Soledad. Located about an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles in beautiful, remote Mojave, the Sanctuary at Soledad is an animal sanctuary run by devoted animal lovers. This is a kids’ paradise, where your own little beings are free to frolic with the goats, commune with the horses, stand eye-to eye with a Jersey cow, and scratch the tummy of a pot-bellied pig.

photo: Elizabeth Kate

Meet Petunia, Lucky & Miss Havisham
If sad sack fenced in petting zoos make you sad, this big and beautiful farm is the antidote.  Here your kids can wander with happy animals and make fast friends. Say hello to Ebony, the cheeky little black goat, and Macey, the former racing horse with a lame foot. Petunia the 400-pound pig will want a good scratching, and the many friendly dogs are full of good cheer and mischief. A kid favorite is Lucky the flamboyant turkey and his beloved (and rather bedraggled) mate, Miss Havisham.

11157536_989815451038323_1224007851896732608_ophoto: The Sanctuary at Soledad’s Facebook Page

A Rescue That’s Not a Rescue (It’s a Home)
The Sanctuary started by chance ten years ago when Carol and Julian Pearce bought some land and two herds of goats, intending to produce goat cheese. The number of goats gradually increased to 300. They started rescuing animals about 6 weeks after moving onto the property and never stopped. “The animals seem to find us,” explains Julian.

15590490_1394830637203467_8750993930575500369_nphoto: The Sanctuary at Soledad’s Facebook Page

Julian Pearce is a real life Dr. Doolittle who has an amazing way with animals. He rules with a firm hand of kindness and respect and it shows. The animals love and trust him. The Pearce’s have a “no aggression” policy with the workers they employ. There are cameras in different parts of the yard to enforce this but Julian insists they are not really necessary. “The animals tell me when someone is cruel to them. Goats have long memories. They only act aggressive towards those who are unkind to them.”

Julian maintains that the Sanctuary is not a simply a rescue for animals. The Pearce’s do not find new homes for the animals. All of the furry residents have found their forever home at the Sanctuary and will spend long, happy lives there.

1bigpigphoto: Elizabeth Kate

Cheese That’s Not Cheese (It’s Vegan)
If the Soledad Farms sounds familiar, you may be thinking of their artisan cheeses offered up at the famous Original Farmers Market. Julian and Carol sell their tempting products at the market several days a week.  (If the drive to Mojave is too far for this weekend, hit the market; it’s easy and they often bring along a friend or two from the farm for kids to meet!)

The cheeses are no ordinary cheeses. They are 100% vegan, dairy-free products. Crafted with ingenuity and care, the cheeses are made from nuts and are free from any additives of artificial preservatives, colors or fillers. Best of all, it melts beautifully in a grilled cheese sandwich, just like the real thing. All without hurting any of the animals we all love.

1talkphoto: Elizabeth Kate

Julian and Carol also sell vegan chocolates and soy candles and soaps. Again, these wonderful products are completely dairy-free and made with no lard, tallow or animal products.

Back at the ranch in Mojave, you can purchase these eclectic products (which help support the farm, and your new friends).

1potbellypigphoto: Elizabeth Kate

Planning Your Visit
You and your brood can visit the Sanctuary at Soledad by appointment. It is a unique, friendly place and Julian and Carol love welcoming guests of all ages. As Julian says, “There are not many place you can go and hang on a cow!” There is no cost to visit, although their products are available for purchase and donations to the Sanctuary are gladly accepted.

Contact Julian and Carol Pearce to set up your visit.  It’s a day that the kids will remember forever, and you’ll know you helped some of these amazing animals stay on the farm forever.

The Sanctuary at Soledad
6501 Backus Rd.
Mojave
661-824-4514
Online: sanctuaryvegancheese@gmail.com

What’s your favorite place to get up close and personal with the animals?  We’d love to know in the comment section!

—Elizabeth Kate