A visit to Tollen Farm in Wilsonville, Oregon is a little like a visit to Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for farm lovers. Though you won’t need a golden ticket to enter, you’ll enter the playful, whimsical world of miniature donkeys, gardens, and farmhouse decor.
This 4-acre eco-friendly farm is just outside 3o minutes outside Portland in a town called Wilsonville. Owner Tonie Tollen started the farm back in 1979 with the intention of raising miniature donkeys and tending to the land’s gardens. Today, the farm’s evolved into a hub for produce, antiques, vintage finds, equine decor, and of course, adorable miniature donkeys.
About Miniature Donkeys
Italians first began breeding miniature donkeys on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. In the 1920s, they were brought to the U.S. to be used mainly for manual labor on farms. Today, they are a fan favorite at farms and viral animal videos alike, part of the reason Tollen farms is so popular!
Unlike regular size, miniature donkeys only grow to be a maximum of 3 ft tall, considerably smaller than a miniature pony. They come in the sizes of brown, tan, black and grey, with some having beautiful spots on them. The boys are called Jacks and the girls are called Jennys.
Since the breed is completely domesticated, miniature donkeys can make great pets. They love kids, other pets, play time, and affection from humans! That’s what got Tollen herself into raising miniature donkeys for her grand kids to play with. “They don’t bite or kick very often and if kids fall off them, it’s a short way to the ground,” she said.
As miniature donkeys are now more popular as pets, this led Tollen to begin breeding donkeys for others. All the donkeys are registered with the American Donkey and Mule Association or ADMA.
They typically live for about 35 years, so it’s a commitment when you purchase a Mediterranean Miniature Donkey. “Donkey’s are a herd animal,” notes Tollen. I typically sell them in pairs.”
(Pssst, did you know that even Arnold Schwarzenegger posts frequent videos of his mini donkey, whiskey?)
Tollen Farm in Oregon
Though most know her for her love of miniature donkeys, Tollen also owns four beautiful Arabian horses. She rescued the mares in 2008. “They have a great life,” says Tollen. “They are pasture ornaments on the farm.”
Surrounded by apple, filbert and plum trees, you’d hardly know that the bustling city of Portland is only thirty minutes away from the farm. That’s why it’s a popular day trip from Portland, or a quick stop while taking an Oregon road trip.
Even if you don’t come for miniature donkeys, many come for the eclectic mix of farmhouse decor and apparel that Tollen Farms offers. They converted the 115-year-old farm house into a rustic boutique and gift shop. They specialize in western-style home goods, and a whole lot of cowboy boots.
“Whenever I take a road trip, I pick up boots,” said Tollen. “My whole goal in life is to be searching for something unique. If I travel, I always bring back something. I always have my eyes open. I have some really unusual things,” she notes with a smile.
This is why guests come for miles just to find the perfect cowboy boots and a couple of home good to go along with it. And hey, you may end up bringing home a miniature donkey of your own to go along with it!
Need to know
- While Tollen loves visitors to the farm, she’d prefer you call before you stop by. You can visit their website here, or you may also visit Tollen Farm’s Facebook page
- Tollen Farm is a member of Farmlandia Farm Loop, a guide to farms, country events and wineries in Portland, Oregon’s backyard.
- For additional insider tips follow @Nancydbrown on Twitter and @Ridinghorseback and like Writing Horseback on Facebook.