My daughter feeds, names, and trains squirrels in our backyard. She walks other people’s dogs for free. She wants all of her birthday parties to be at the local cat cafe. She will only do summer camps at the Humane Society. And she owns a shirt that says “If you hurt animals, I hurt you” (gifted from her uncle, no judgment please). Needless to say, the kid is animal-obsessed. And I love that about her because it goes hand-in-hand with having a huge heart and a beautiful spirit.
This made gifting her an experience gift for Christmas this year super easy – just find somewhere with animals whose owners are sincere and caring, and whose business is run with a huge heart and a beautiful spirit.
Enter Twenty-Two Farms Animal Sanctuary.
Twenty-Two Farms is based in Baldwin, Wisconsin – just across the border – and is a non-profit organization established in 2019 by new-to-farm-ownership animal angels Gina and Chris. Their mission continues to be taking in homeless and unwanted animals and give them a safe and loving forever home.
See? Huge hearts and beautiful spirits.
After checking out their website, I was sold. We had to go. And the best part? They have recently added a guest suite on to their farm property and you can stay overnight in your own beautiful space a rock’s throw away from the animal barns. My kid was going to love this! And I was going to pack all my allergy meds and love this too.
The drive from the Twin Cities is easy. Hwy 94 to Baldwin and Google maps takes your right to the driveway. When we pulled up to the gravel drive, the evening sunshine was reflecting off the Twenty-Two Farm sign and the tractor in the yard, and I already knew it was going to be magic for her.
What is Twenty-Two Farms Animal Sanctuary?
In 2019, Gina and Chris Mizell moved from their outer ring suburbia to a farm in Wisconsin with dreams of turning life on its head with animals at front of mind. They invested in a beautiful piece of property just outside of Baldwin and a couple dogs and a couple cats. Pretty typical, right?
Word spread that they were willing to take in homeless or unwanted animals and their dream of taking in 50 animals quickly turned into 100 in their first year alone. Now, after being open only a little more than three years, the Mizell’s have 130+ sheep, goats, cows, ponies, chickens, cats, geese, ducks, dogs, pigs, and a big ol’ turkey named Henry who certainly claims to own the place.
Twenty-Two Farms has now become a full non-profit organization with hopes of becoming self-sustaining with cool options like the guest suite.
About Our Stay
When we arrived, we were greeted by Gina (who is a smart, determined, and contagiously joyful human being). She showed us to our guest room which she decorated herself in a farmhouse style (Joanna Gaines would be proud). The room had warm heaters (it was -3 degrees on our visit), a TV, coffee and hot chocolate k-cups, a mini fridge, washer and dryer (which we used to clean off clothes and warm them up…darn Minnesota weather), two queen beds, and a pull-out couch. It was simple and perfect.
The guest suite is a minimum donation of $150/night and you can fit a lot of people in there to sleep! The money goes directly to the farm to be used for supplies, healthcare, heat, food, individual animal needs, and so much more.
We got settled in and my daughter was chomping at the bit to get to hug and love on some animals so Gina sent us to the garage area which is home to a baby goat who needs special care and a few bunnies. She could have spent our entire stay in here, but we also saw the cows and goats in the other barn, the birds in their coop, and the sheep/pigs/goat barn. We met them all by name, and I have to say, the naming of these animals has GOT to be one of the best parts. They have a Ross and Rachel, a Ferris and Cameron, a cow named Mabel (my daughter’s name), and a goose named Maverick (if you get that last one, we should be friends). Following Gina around and listening to her talk about each animal’s individual story was mind-blowing and it became blatantly obvious how much care and love she puts into their homes and their recoveries.
We met a goat named Hope who lost parts of her legs to frostbite but was thriving in the warm barn with other goats who motivate her to move. We met Adele the Goat who was a bit of a troublemaker and found her way into every pen in the place no matter how many fences were locked in front of her. We met Waylon the Pig who suffers from a skin condition whose responses to back scratches were a hearty and happy “oink.” We met Buddy the Dog who had everything but his mane shaved off because his fur was so matted that it was simply unsalvageable. We heard about the animals who were sent to their kill pens at their previous “homes” or who came from hoarder houses or the ones who were left behind due to a shorter leg or a turned-in foot.
And then we listened to how they were saved – rescued and rejuvenated with the help of Twenty-Two Farms, the local vet, and a lot of community love. You can’t meet these animals and not feel like you are in the presence of angels.
What Did We Do?
We spent one night in the guest suite and in our time there, we held cats and bunnies, fed the entire barn of goats and sheep, refilled water bowls, gave a baby bottle to and clipped the toenails of Annabelle the Goat, and cleaned out the baby goat space to lay down new linoleum and rearrange the space a bit. My kid loved contributing and cuddling. Was a really nice mix of work and play, and even the worked felt like play because, um duh, ANIMALS.
We did take some time to get off the farm and see the small town nearby. We ate a nice dinner at Phoenix Bar & Grill (a whole 5 minutes away) and the next morning we hit up Sweet B’s Bakeshop for a donut, a coffee, and a strudel. They had some goooood lookin’ baked goods. Between you and me, I wished I had brought bigger pants.
But most of our time was just spent hanging out with the animals and doing some chores and then relaxing in the guest suite watching Friends and making mini food out of air dried clay. As a volunteer, we got to sign their “Betty White Donation Wall”, which is a wall in the barn filled with signatures of those who help keep this animal sanctuary trucking along. Honestly, I cannot think of a better way to bond as a mother and daughter in 24 hours.
We left feeling happy and full. And we definitely look forward to visiting again (and “again and again and again” according to my daughter).
Twenty-Two Farms accepts donations of cash, but also blankets, gift cards, or volunteer time. They do have an online Amazon wish list as well that can be found here.
You can keep updated on the animals by following their very active social media pages. We do this now to see how each friend we met is doing, what their recovery stories look like, and what opportunities there might be for us to participate in down the road.