1 of 2
Keith and Mandy Harris stand at their Happy Trails Farm at 1108 Old Rock Road in Granite City. The farm is available for pony rides, birthday parties and more.
2 of 2
Mandy’s eldest daughter, Maryann Ponder, stands with one of the family’s horses.
GRANITE CITY — Are the kids still sulking because they didn’t get a pony for the holidays?
Parents may be able get back in their kids’ good graces by arranging for a birthday pony instead. Farmer Mandy Harris of Happy Trails Farm, 1108 Old Rock Road in Granite City, would love to help out, whether it’s an individual pony ride or a whole birthday party.
“Pony rides are for ages nine or ten or younger,” Harris said. “The ponies can only handle 80 or 90 pounds. Older kids can be accommodated with the larger horses.”
Harris owns six ponies and four full-sized horses, and also offers boarding on her farm for horses belonging to area residents. Harris’ ponies and horses can be ridden on the farm, or she can bring them to a different location where an event is held.
“We offer the community a lot of different services – renting the farm for birthdays, weddings and other events,” she explained.
Recently, Harris provided pony rides following the Granite City Christmas Parade, and at Halloween events, such as church functions or trunk-or-treats.
Since taking over the farm in 2007, Harris has come a long way; all of the buildings and fences had to be built before she could open the farm to the public.
“We’re working on year eight or nine here, and we’re hoping it will be a lot bigger in the next eight or nine,” she said.
Reflecting on previous events she has hosted, Harris said, “This past year, we hosted something called a fire ceremony for a lady out of Belleville. Her name is Regina from Regina’s Realm, and she’s a clairvoyant. They played Indian drums and had a huge fire ceremony in our back field.
“(Guests at the fire ceremony) wrote things down and burned them to assist in letting go of the past.”
Harris said she will be hosting spring and fall fire ceremonies, and that the public is invited for a small fee. She suggested following the Happy Trails Farm Facebook page to stay updated on future events.
She said she is also looking forward to this year’s Easter events.
“I own the kind of donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem, with black crosses across their backs, which are often in high demand around Easter time,” she said.
Currently on a “by appointment” basis, long-term goals include being open five days a week, expanding educational tours, building a gazebo and hosting more outdoor weddings on the farm, and accommodating indoor weddings.
“My motivation is to help keep small farms alive, really,” Harris said. “A hundred years ago, ninety percent of the people in America were farmers, and now that number is only one percent.
“We’re not crop farmers, we’re small animal farmers. And we hope that the public will support this small, local farm in any way they can.”
Even if the kids aren’t into ponies, they might like eggs – and in addition to all the other services Harris provides, she also holds a USDA license to sell eggs, and hopes to add greenhouses soon, to offer farm fresh fruit and vegetables.
Calls to the farm will result in Harris walking guests through the process of scheduling a ride, party, one-on-one tour and more.
To learn more about Happy Trails Farm, visit the farm’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/HappyTrailsTheFarm/, or contact Harris at (618) 610-2455.