Sunset Hill Farm considers more animals
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent October 26, 2013 4:40PM
Updated: November 28, 2013 6:42AM
VALPARAISO — The Porter County Parks and Recreation Department wants to see more farm animals at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.
However, because of the trouble the park had with the six Nigerian goats that died of Johne’s disease, the department has called in a group of experts.
On Wednesday, the Sunset Hill Farm Animal Advisory Committee had its first meeting and discussed what kind of animals would work on an interpretive farm.
“We’re looking for a group of people who can help us identify milestones and where we can get (expert advice),” Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos said.
Sunset Hill has a pony named Mr. Tickles and six chickens, and they’re popular with the children.
Students in tour groups also ask about the goats, said Ben Wilson, the animal caretaker and one of the committee members.
Other committee members are Tammy Sender, who specializes in animal rescues around the Great Lakes area; Dr. Larry McAfee of McAfee Animal Hospital; Toni Bianchi of Positive Experience Training School; Michigan City Zoo Director Jamie Huss; and local horse expert Kathy Sutton.
Their suggestions for animals included donkeys, rabbits, sheep and ducks, and Huss said rescue groups look for homes for such animals.
The park would also have to find donations for feed and for buildings for feed and equipment storage.
Lenckos would like to see the park have cows and calves that children can interact with and get an idea of what farms were like.
In the early 20th century, Col. Robert Heffron Murray had enough cattle at the farm to give 400 gallons of milk a day and had 1,000 laying hens.
With Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore no longer having animals and Taltree Arboretum having animals but not a farm situation, Sunset Hill would be unique for the area, McAfee said.
The area around the 238-acre park in Liberty Township is becoming increasingly suburban, and Sunset Hill attracts more neighborhood people during the week for dog walking, running and hiking, Lenckos said.
Many Porter Regional Hospital workers have lunch there, too.
“It’s only going to increase once the Dunes-Kankakee Trail comes through (on Indiana 49),” Lenckos said.