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Exploring Life & Business with Dani Alvarez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dani Alvarez.

Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
We bought our farm in the spring of 2020. With it being the height of COVID we went to work fixing it up. We eventually added a few animals for our kids to enjoy with the idea that we could share them with other families, perhaps even using them for educational purposes with school groups as I am a former elementary school teacher.  With COVID still being restrictive in the fall of 2020, we were unable to do as much as we wanted as far as field trips or farm days.

The animals still got frequent visitors from friends, family, and daily handling by young (sometimes crying) kids. This made our animals very social and desensitized. My husband joked with me that all of our animals are earning their keep with a job except the mini donkeys, Pierre and Penelope. So besides their job of just being cute, I googled “jobs for mini donkeys” and came across multiple photos of beverage burros.

Shortly after, I saw a post about someone in the Fort Collins area wanting two friendly mini donkeys for her wedding. We had been working with our mini donkeys to carry pack saddles, so I started training them more specifically to be beverage burros. After the wedding in the summer of 2021 and a few other events, we started getting more requests to do other weddings and events, so we decided to make this a business.

Being a stay-at-home mom, I knew I couldn’t be gone every weekend so we hired two equine professionals- Ti and Jo Stroup. The summer quickly filled with bookings and our donkeys thrived in the social atmosphere at every event. Mini donkeys are social animals who love getting doted on at events.

Being mindful that our animals are still animals and need a break, we added two more mini donkeys at the end of the summer in 2022. We could not be more thankful for the wonderful additions of Pearl and Paisley. 2022 was an amazing year, and we currently book for 2023 and 2024 events! We are so grateful to be able to share our animals with people and love being able to celebrate with them!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It is not always a smooth road when you are bringing live animals to different venues. As much as we can, we prepare our burros with things they might see, walk on, and various event stimuli. However, we can never fully prepare them for every situation. Sometimes our donkeys need what we call “a donkey minute” to think about something new that is introduced. Donkeys are extremely intelligent, so before they do something they are often determining if it is safe.

For example, it had rained at a venue right before we arrived, and the cement was very smooth and somewhat reflective. The donkeys had never walked on this kind of surface before so they stared at it for a few seconds before they determined it was safe and went forward. They are very trusting of their handlers but fountains, drones, and crunchy material are all things that they have learned to get used to.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about The Farm at Sparrow Hill?
The Farm at Sparrow Hill currently has two primary ventures:

We are home to the Sparrow Hill Beverage Burros– Northern Colorado’s premier beverage serving donkeys. Beverage Burros make an event one to remember! Our teams of mini donkeys are available for hire. They can carry beverages, party favors, or whatever you can think of at your next event. They are ready for any occasion in any theme you can imagine. We are insured and our handlers are TIPS Certified in the state of Colorado to serve alcohol. Our beverage burros are a great addition to any event, the perfect ice-breaker, and are always a fun photo opportunity!

We are currently breeding Valais Blacknose Sheep. Besides being considered “the cutest sheep in the world” Valais Blacknose sheep are a rare breed of sheep that have recently been introduced to the USA. We are currently breeding to reach purebred status and crossing our Valais Blacknose sheep with the beloved Babydoll sheep to create what we call Blacknose Dolls™. We will have lambs available for sale in the Spring of 2023!

In addition to having well-mannered mini donkeys, and breeding the “cutest sheep in the world,” we also have horses, goats, and a pony that have been used for photo shoots, engagements, weddings, and events. Being insured, and having professional equine handlers, we are often approached with various requests and opportunities making this business versatile.

We have also hosted various events and used our animals in varying capacities. For example, photographers book us for mini-sessions on our farm or with our animals. We are grateful to be a host for people in our Northern Colorado community, and love using our farm and animals to create memorable experiences.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
As both beverage burros and the Valais Blacknose Sheep breed gain more popularity, we can see both of these industries growing.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Golden Destiny Photography, Cassidy Jo Photography, For Love in the Light Photography, and Tanya Fabian Photography

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