Not often do you see teenagers spending their free time running their own hobby farms.
But that’s just the case with 13-year-old Julia Blackett.
For the past two years, this entrepreneurial youngster has been very busy managing a stable full of animals.
A couple of kittens, a handful of rabbits, three goats and two mini horses seem to be the recipe for success for young Julia, who in her own special way, is learning all about responsibility.
“I’m learning so much,” said Julia. “I have learned about all the work that goes into keeping animals.”
Julia says Hollywood films don’t paint an accurate picture of what it means to own animals.
“In movies, you see people with horses and they go out riding, then put them in a stall and leave. You never see them cleaning the stalls. It is a lot of work looking after horses, but it’s also very rewarding.”
Julia’s proud mother, Carmel, agrees.
“I think one of the rewarding parts is to see Julia not minding going out and spending hours working with animals,” said Carmel. “A lot of kids Julia’s age are hanging out on street corners wondering what to do with their time, and Julia spends it with her animals and cares for them and cleans them. It’s a lot of work. And to be honest, she does almost 100 percent of the work. She wants to be independent with her animals and we have allowed that. If she can do it, we let her do it. I think it’s great for kids her age to be responsible for something. I’ve got to tell you, it’s great to see them responsible for something at that age.”
While Julia shines with pride, it’s hard to imagine her without the stable full of animals that adore her.
But it hasn’t always been this way, and how all the animals got there is a story in itself.
A couple of years ago, all Julia wanted was a kitten.
Although her father Tony was quick to refuse this original request, it seems good ol’ Dad has had a change of heart.
With what must have been her charming smile, Julia somehow convinced her parents that a mini-horse named Felina, whom Julia had showed for 4-H competitions, belonged with her.
And that smile has only continued to charm.
Once Julia knew Felina was going to be hers, it seemed only natural that Felina would need a friend.
That’s how Julia ended up with a goat named Jingle, and the fun really began.
As it happened, Felina delivered a big surprise a couple weeks after her arrival, and little Hershey was born.
But the surprises didn’t end there.
Because Felina and Jingle didn’t see eye to eye, Jingle needed a friend, explained Julia. So another goat named Jangle was brought into the picture.
She delivered a little surprise of her own not long after. And alas, baby goat Elliot rounded out the family.
“And that’s how we got all the animals,” said Julia.
It’s also how Dad ended up converting the backyard shed into a stable, and building an indoor run so the animals are sheltered from bad weather.
Julia’s love of animals seems to come naturally, and have always held a special place in her heart, said Carmel.
“When she first got really interested in caring about animals openly, she donated all her birthday money to the humane society in Napanee. And soon after that she started to get her own little humane society here!”
Julia is also a dedicated 4-H member, and one day, hopes to train horses, and maybe even open her own rescue shelter for abandoned horses.
It’s not such a lofty dream for a girl who so obviously has a big heart.
Carmel says anyone can see the love that exists between the animals and Julia, who is often seen sitting on an old turned-over sink that sits in the yard while the animals roam freely.
“Julia sits down there and the animals crawl all over her,” said Carmel. “She’s got goat’s arms all around her neck, and they’re hugging her. She truly is loved by those animals. I think it’s wonderful. It’ll be great memories to look back on as well.”