Carlsbad Art Farm is home to a variety of animals, and part of the fun of summer day camp is spending time with the animals — drawing and painting them, learning their behaviors, and learning to care for them. Students can spend free time with the farm animals as they choose, and can pet and brush them, give them baths, feed them, clean out their stalls and even take some of them for walks. All interaction with the animals is voluntary and based on the student’s level of interest.
The Comans have carefully chosen their animals to give visitors an idea of the diversity of farm life, and also for their gentle personalities. In addition, some of the animals make superb models, not just for their own breed, but as a stand-ins for others — for instance, Picasso the mini-mule can be visualized as a horse, if the artist chooses.
Not only do student use the animals as models, they learn to connect with them on a deeper level. They see first-hand what it takes to care for animals and the kind of work that’s involved; they come to understand how the animals’ environment affects them. They develop a sense of pride and ownership in the animals and their welfare.
Carlsbad Art Farm takes its role as an animal refuge seriously, often adopting rescue animals, and is a “forever home” for its residents.
Here are some of our favorite animals:
Harry Potter, a very friendly alpaca who is one of the most popular animal models at the farm, has been the subject of students’ paintings, drawings, and found object sculpture. He was named Harry Potter because he was born with a lightning bolt mark on his forehead, just like his fictional namesake. Alpacas are native to the mountainous regions of South America and are related to camels; their thick fur, once spun into wool, is prized for its superior warmth and softness.
Disco is a silver Polish, a type of small ornamental hen with a crown of feathers that fan out over the head like an umbrella. Disco is a very kid-friendly chicken. She is very tame, likes to be held, and she will perch on your arm like a parrot. Like all Art Farm animals, she models for the art classes. Every spring, Carlsbad Art Farm purchases new baby chicks, and at the end of summer camp, the chickens are adopted by local families. Those that aren’t adopted become permanent residents of the Art Farm.
Calvin & Hobbes
Calvin & Hobbes, named for the characters in the comic strip, are Nigerian Dwarf goats that have distinct personalities. The Nigerian Dwarf is a miniature dairy goat breed of West African ancestry. Calvin was adopted by the Art Farm when he was five days old because his mother didn’t have enough milk for him; he was bottle-fed as a baby. Sweet and gentle, Calvin likes to sit in people’s laps. Hobbes, on the other hand, has a mischievous streak and loves to nibble on clothing. A highlight for Art Farm students (and a favorite parent photo op!) is taking the goats for walks on dog leashes.
The official guardian of Art Farm, Chelsea came there through the wonderful organization Orange County German Shepherd Rescue. Chelsea keeps watch over the rest of the Art Farm animals and keeps coyotes and other local wild predators at bay. Like the other residents of the farm, she loves children and all the attention she gets from visitors and students.
Many of the Art Farm animals are small-statured breeds, and Picasso is no exception. Rescued from a horse ranch, Picasso is a miniature mule, and is about the size of a small pony. Picasso will do anything for food, and knows that he will get some hay and a helping of his favorite grain when it is his turn to model for students. If he sees another animal being let to one of Art Farms outdoor studios, he become jealous and will start protesting loudly with a very distinctive call. Mules are a cross between a horse and a donkey, and many people think mules are more intelligent than horses. He has learned to give kisses for treats.