SANTA YNEZ, Calif. - It's lunch time at Bindi Farms in Santa Ynez.
Lauren Mrozowski spends hours feeding her animals everyday.
All 200 of them.
“Our dairy cows, our dairy goats, the pigs, the sheep … we have about 80 pasture ducks, over 100 chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, emus," said owner Mrozowski of Bindi Farms.
Here 6-year-old daughter Ava knows all the animals.
“That’s Rosie and those are her babies … those are our goats too … and that’s Cocoa," said Ava.
Ava also knoows just how hard her mom works to keep the farm running.
“She feeds them all … and she’s milking the goats … and she does everything for the animals," said Ava.
Mrozowski said it was her dream to run a farm.
But that dream took a turn.
“The other night I was pushing the hay cart across the pasture … and we had no hay left for the next day … and I clocked my 18th hour of the day … and I had to just stop and think … you know … my bank account had eight dollars in it," said Mrozowski.
The drought, excessive heat and record inflation have taken her once prosperous operation to the brink.
“This year it got hot really early and then it got cold ... so the birds all started laying earlier than normal. We get 5 to 6 dozens of eggs a day. This week we got one single egg," said Mrozowski.
“They have super hard shells you could barely crack it in a backpack," said Ava.
Adding to what's already a challenging time, Mrozowski said her cows are eating food faster than she can dish it out.
“They are literally eating money right now ... it looks like hay but it’s not ... it’s like dollar bills that I just throw on the ground," said Mrozowski.
In the last eight months, Mrozowski said the cost to feed her animals went up by 50 percent.
“Farm costs have increased so much … at this point we’re just trying to sustain operations," said Mrozowski.
Despite the many challenges of sustaining the farm, Mrozowski said she still appreciates all the animals around her, big and small.
While Mrizowski perseveres, "When your livelihood is part of who you are, it's hard for sure," Ava, too, fights on, as the heart and soul of the family farm, “We raise the baby goats and the emus … almost everything."
The single mom is trying to add more income to the already busy farm.
In addition to her raw dairy herdshare program, she is adding farm tours, volunteer opportunities, educational events and more in an attempt to save the family business.
turning to farm education, volunteer recruitment and selling dairy products in an attempt to save the family buisness.
“We have a very unique and diverse farm here. One thing that really makes our raw dairy program different is the focus on animal welfare. We are creating a healthy raw product for the community, from happy animals. Above all else, animal welfare is central to our beliefs and practices here.,“ said Mrozowski.
And although their future remains to be seen, Ava and her mom won't be parting with this farm family any time soon.
Mrozowski is seeking any volunteers who would like help with her animals at Bindi Farms.
If you would like to make a donation or help Bindi Farms in any way, log onto her newly built website: http://www.bindifarms.com
You can also reach owner Lauren Mrozowski of Bindi Farms for more information at: 970-214-5201.