Greg and Martha Knott feed bottles to a lamb and a goat at their Perkiomenville property, the What-Knott Farm. As part of their traveling zoo, children can get up close and personal with the animals as they feed them bottles or solid food.
Local family brings the farm and more to you
Tucked into aquiet corner of Perkiomenville, the What-Knott Farm is home to more than a dozen species of animals – from Japanese Silkies to Shetland sheep to a sulcata tortoise.
But what farm life is not is uneventful.
“Every day is busy,” said Martha Knott, who runs the farm and a traveling petting zoo business with her husband, Greg. “I get to do something I love with the animals but it is a 365, seven days a week job.”
And one visit to the farm in late afternoon is a testament to just that.
“It does get noisy around here at feeding time,” acknowledged Greg Knott, met at the fence by a group of hungry, loudly bleating baby goats and sheep, clamoring over each other to get to the bottles first.
Greg and his wife prepare and hand-feed them 10 bottles, two to three times a day.
And that doesn’t include feeding and watering their adult counterparts, some Angora and Nubian goats and an adult ewe, three llamas, three miniature donkeys, a miniature Hereford steer, a miniature zebu, a giant Flemish rabbit, a miniature potbellied pig, miniature horses, alpaca, chickens, ducklings, tortoises, giant cockroaches and a handful of other creatures.
While the couple’s love of animals has been lifelong, they didn’t start out with a full-fledged farm in mind. Instead, said Martha, they wanted to get an animal for their then two young sons, Sam and Steve, before the birth of their third son, Michael.
“Even as a little girl, I loved animals,” Martha noted. “Looking at old pictures, I often had a puppy, kitten or rabbit in my arms... And all three boys liked animals when they were little. We first got a miniature donkey named Buster, then we tried big goats but they butted the boys to the ground. So we found some pygmy goats.”
And What-Knott Farm was born. In 1982, they began offering breeding services for miniature animals and, as Martha says, “As our herd expanded, so did our hearts for these special miniature animals.”
They soon found themselves welcoming many other animals, which included at one time a wallaby, a cavy, Muntjac deer, a parrot, foxes and even a skunk.
In 1991, after Greg was laid off from his job in advertising, the family decided to go to the next step and start a traveling petting zoo.
They now routinely visit schools, nursing homes, day cares and churches and appear at outdoor events like community days and expos, with their traveling show. They offer a live animal show, petting zoo options, a mini farm party and Bible animals for live nativities and the like.
Many weekends they have multiple events each day.
For a typical petting zoo or farm party, the animals arrive via trailer and are fenced in in small areas or secured by a leash and a stake. Each area is labeled with the breed’s name and background information.
Kids and adults alike get to interact with the animals, learn a little about them and sometimes get a miniature pony ride or have a chance to feed the animals by hand.
“Most kids love it,” said Martha of the up-close-and-personal experience with the creatures. “Some are afraid because they don’t have any experience with animals but most of them really have fun.”
Monica Gehman, of Lower Salford, recently hosted a mini farm party at her home through What-Knott.
“The animals were clean, calm and happy,” she said. “Mrs. Knott and the What-Knott farm staff were very friendly and completely professional. Mrs. Knott was wonderful with the children and they were sad to see her and her animals leave!”
As for the Knotts, while their kids have grown up, the farm now serves as a popular destination for their grandkids, who may or may not follow in their footsteps.
“I often blame my love for the animals on my grandfather who was a dairy farmer, but he also had a barn full of parakeets, a rabbit barn, a pigeon barn and then raised guppies in the kitchen,” Martha said.
“So whether I inherited his love for animals or not, I want my grandchildren to also experience the love of all of God’s animals.”
For more information on What-Knott Farm and Traveling Petting Zoo, please visit www.whatknottfarm.com or call (215)234-9379.