Stavanger is a municipality in Norway where Bjarne McKnight, now a resident of the Estevan area, was born.
When Bjarne and Theresa McKnight moved from Vancouver three years ago and decided to make Estevan their new home, they chose to name their small farm, a long-time dream, after Bjarne's hometown.
Stavanger Farms is all about animals. The farm name is unique for this area, and some of the animals the McKnights have at their farm are also pretty rare.
Originally the family started with just chickens and horses and then added a few more species to their family.
"We started a horse boarding right away. We have a few horses ourselves and we've done lessons in the past. I've gotten an instructor to come in and do classes," Theresa explained.
While they don't do classes anymore, between May and September they do birthday parties, where children can interact and learn about their animals.
"Those are pretty popular. Usually, kids can ride a pony and they get the farm experience where they can go around and feed all the animals," Theresa said.
The Stavanger family now consists of 53 animals, including miniature Highland cows, a Jersey miniature young bull that is now for sale, chickens, three ducks, three horses – a quarter horse, a Welsh pony and a miniature pony – two dogs and three cats. Until recently they also had goats, but they were relocated.
All Stavanger Farms animals, including chickens, that are not meant to be consumed have names, and their names are pretty special as well.
"All our animals are named after movie characters or TV characters or celebrities."
The animal family started with Theresa's love for horses and then it naturally grew from there.
"I always loved horses so I wanted to have horses. Initially, when we moved here we just wanted to do horse boarding, and then one of our borders was an instructor. That's how we started with the instruction, lesson program … I love goats, so we got goats. And we looked at possibly getting dairy goats, but goats are a lot of work," recalled Theresa.
Since they still wanted to have some fresh milk, they looked into dairy cows. Well-mannered miniature Highland cows with their adorable teddy-bear look seemed to be a perfect choice. But it turned out that they were hard to come by in Canada. And the McKnights ended up going to Minnesota to get them.
Theresa noted that Highlands' milk is high on fat, and mixed with Jersey, another dairy breed of cows, they should produce a great product. So last spring, they had some miniature Highland cross Jersey calves born and they expect to have some pure bread miniature Highland babies soon.
"We borrowed a miniature Highland bull from a farm in Weyburn and bread our two girls again, so we should have a miniature Highland comes springtime."
In her ancestry, Theresa had some farming, but not in recent generations so the family is learning everything step by step.
"My cousin had a hobby farm, and I just loved it as a kid. So it was always a dream, but I never thought it would be a reality," Theresa recalled.
"So leaving Vancouver with busy traffic and the rain, and Bjarne growing up here, we thought we would love an acreage and the peaceful quietness of it, no traffic. And we just started collecting animals."
Theresa added that they try to be self-sustaining and get useful animals that do something, like producing eggs or milk.
"It's been a real learning experience, a lot of hard work, … but we love it."
Theresa also runs Stavanger Farms Eco-Friendly Shop at the farmers' market and online.
"I've always been passionate about the environment, sustainability and recycling, trying to reduce my carbon footprint for years since I was a kid," Theresa said.
Her daughter, who is also very conscious that way, motivated Theresa to start the shop that offers a variety of single-use swap items such as reusable makeup removal discs, cloth paper towels and more. Theresa also makes chemical-free deodorants, soaps, lip balms and bug sprays, as well as bees' wax food wraps, for which she uses wax from local bee farmers.
"I try to get everything locally if I can, and I get all my supplies from Canada," she added.
Theresa also recycles denim jeans, trying to use all of it, turning them into accessories or small clothing items.
More information about the farm and the store can be found at stavangerfarms.com, or on Stavanger Farms and Stavanger Farms Eco-Friendly Shop Facebook pages.