Napa’s Bleating Hearts Farm and Sanctuary rushes to build new animal enclosures after code enforcement complaint | Local News


Kristin and Justin Starkey, founders of Bleating Hearts Farm and Sanctuary, worked hard through December to dismantle and rebuild the enclosures that serve approximately 135 Rescue Farm animals.

The Napa-based nonprofit, which started in 2018, is a rescue for goats, chickens, ducks, geese and the occasional pig. He welcomes retired animals from just about anywhere in California and specializes in caring for chickens and goats with disabilities or special needs, said Kristin Starkey.

β€œWe actually have goats with wheelchairs; we have some who were born with underdeveloped brains, ”Starkey said. “We have completely blind goats, partially blind goats, arthritic goats – you name it, we have them.”

But a recent code enforcement complaint – which forced the Starkeys to rush to build new structures – could have ended the organization entirely, according to Starkey. They were only able to rebuild themselves with the financial support of the Napa community, she said.

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Several aspects of the nonprofit organization’s farm were brought to the attention of Napa County Code Enforcement a few months ago. While much of what was reported was code compliant, some of the farm’s unauthorized animal enclosures – chicken coops, a duck pen, a goat barn, and a handicapped animal barn – measured over 120 square feet and therefore required permits, said code compliance. supervisor Akenya Robinson-Webb.

The nonprofit was given a deadline on January 1, 2022 to acquire permits for the structures or modify them to comply with the Napa County code – which in several cases effectively meant demolishing the structures. , Starkey said.

β€œI feel bad that this happened because we tried to check everything out before we even became a rescue,” Starkey said. β€œWe checked the zoning, we checked the legality of the number of animals we could have, the type of animals, so everything in that aspect is A-OK; it’s just that we totally missed the building permit part. “

Solutions to the code enforcement situation, however, cost money the Starkeys did not have. They chose to overhaul the structures at an estimated cost of $ 8,000 because it would be cheaper and less complicated than getting permits, Starkey said. And to help finance the high cost of construction, as well as animal feed and medical costs, Starkey set up a GoFundMe page in late November.

Starkey said she was completely blown away by the response from the Napa community. Funds donated by community members started pouring into the GoFundMe page in mid-December, boosted by a NextDoor article that detailed the plight of the association. The fundraiser has now raised approximately $ 1,000 more than its original goal of $ 10,000.

Starkey said she and Justin were buying cat food when the sudden surge in donations started in mid-December – and fully funded the goal in about three days.

β€œWe were actually trying not to cry publicly,” Starkey said. “It was incredibly nice to know that so many members of our community loved what we do as much as we do.”

Local businesses have also helped, Starkey said, including several wineries, Atlas Peak Construction and Allen’s Hauling.

Building the new structures in the middle of a rainy December required almost constant work on the part of the Starkeys. And this is in addition to the care animals already need, as well as the need for special packaging, eye drops, goat wheelchairs, tube feeding for some chickens, treatment against bumblebees, etc.

β€œWithout the construction, we’re already going until one or two in the morning,” Starkey said. “One of us runs the night shift and the other runs the day shift because there just aren’t enough hours in a single day of daylight.”

Construction so far has consisted of dismantling the main barn, building four animal sheds, dismantling the henhouses and duck pen and building a new henhouse for the ducks, Starkey said. They prioritized getting the animals out of the rain as quickly as possible, she added. The paint and windows for the sheds will arrive next year.

But, with community support, the farm is on track to be fully code compliant on Jan. 1, Starkey said.

β€œWe see this as a legitimate Christmas miracle,” Starkey said. β€œIf it hadn’t been for the community, we probably would have left. There is no way we could have found so much money.

Hear the Sounds of Christmas Brass players perform “Adeste Fideles” at the South Napa Market.

Howard Yune, Record video

You can reach Edward Booth at (707) 256-2213.



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