By DOUG GRAVES
OXFORD, Ohio — The Batdorf family of Oxford would have made Noah proud. With just three acres, they have raised every farm animal imaginable, from baby chicks to llamas.
“We’ve attended to a menagerie of animals over the years, and this all started when our children were little,” said Andrea Batdorf, who oversees the animals with her two children, Annie and Hunter. “We farm on just three acres and animals of all kinds have been here. At times our neighbor would lend us his two acres in case we needed the space.
“You name it, we took care of it.”
The siblings’ involvement in 4-H and FFA was the natural connection with animals. In addition, a friend of theirs from nearby Oxford opened up that farm as a foster home for unwanted or neglected animals. Batdorf followed suit.
“We paired up with her so that if she couldn’t care for some animals and didn’t have the room, we’d take them in,” she said. “My husband, Brian, started all this when he brought home a potbellied pig one day. After that pig died, Brian brought home two more potbellied pigs. Things just bloomed from there.
“A few weeks later Brian brought home some ducks that no one wanted. We kept them in a box in the house at first and you could hear their wings flapping against the cardboard box. Being animal lovers, we naturally fell in love with the ducks.”
After the duck adoption came three llamas, with an addition of two llama offspring within the year. “Shortly after getting the llamas, a friend of ours said they could no longer care for their two goats, and within a month of obtaining the goats a pair of rheas found their way to our property,” Batdorf said. “With all the feed and hay on the premise, we sure put a lot of money into this venture of ours.”
Annie always wanted a horse, but the family didn’t want one on just three acres. As luck would have it, though, they adopted two horses: a two-year-old gelding and a 20-year-old horse blind in one eye.
“After we got those two we began riding horses,” Batdorf noted.
Several months after the arrival of the horses a miniature horse resided there for six years before the original owner asked for it back.
“We got attached to all the animals we had, but anytime any of the original owners wanted them back, we knew they’d be going to good homes,” she said.
A cow and a calf were next in line, followed by several dogs and a few retired racehorses. “If the animal came to our house, it was there for a while, at least until we found it a good, loving home,” Batdorf said. “We adopted all types of animals like wild turkeys, pheasants, peacocks, quail and rabbits.
“Of all the animals, I only got attached to a horse, which we had for five years, and a potbellied pig named Petunia. She lived in the house with us for a long time. She’d run to the door just like a dog would do. She was my baby.”
In just 12 years’ time the Batdorfs had just about every animal imaginable, thanks to involvement with 4-H, Talawanda High School FFA and folks in Butler County who couldn’t afford to keep theirs.
“Brian worked at AK Steel and when they went on strike a few years back, we couldn’t afford all the animals, so they started to dwindle,” Batdorf explained. “We trimmed out menagerie to two miniature horses and two cows, but right now we have pair pigs and chickens.
“If I had it to do all over again I would go back to having a potbellied pig. With pigs that relationship can grow. You can get attached to any animal, but we’re all getting older and there’s less time to spend with the animals.”