HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With turkeys that roam free to mini bulls to pens filled with goats and sheep, Colton Farms transports visitors to a different world.
“We raise unique animals, mini cattle, a lot of heritage breeds,” said Colton Farms owner Claude Colton. “That’s very good for you, but they’re not good for big, large production wise.”
Farming has been a lifelong passion of Colton’s and he specializes in a bit of everything, including, raising breeds, selling livestock, educational events, and animal rescue.
With more than 200 animals on a near 20-acre lot in Waimanalo, Colton is a bit outnumbered.
In fact, he’s a one man operation.
“I’m everything, so people out there that call me, they think they’re talking to a secretary, they’re talking directly to me.” Colton said. “Whenever I’m on the phone, that means my other hand has to carry the feed bucket. I’m never stopping, seven days a week.”
Community events such as the 50th State Fair, carnivals, and gatherings at the Waimanalo Country Farm are critical for revenue.
So when COVID shut those down, there went his income.
“I panicked because literally I just took a nose dive,” Colton said. “It went from, I kind of invested a lot of time and money and a lot of things just to get there and I just crashed down.”
Colton estimates it takes about $50,000 to operate the farm ― 60% of that to feed the animals.
With no money coming in, Colton started selling more of his livestock, but then some relief arrived.
A friend started a GoFundMe account in the farm’s name, which not only raised money but also led to donations at the Waimanalo Feed Store.
“I said well I guess belly up, it’s not gonna happen,” Colton said.
“Then I went to the feed store and multiple people just started coming in and buying feed for us, putting it on an account that we have there. So all that money just stays at the feed store.”
The pandemic has Colton considering ways to expand operations, including animal boarding.
Until events return, he’s unsure how much longer he’ll have to keep downsizing and is concerned as well for his fellow farmers.
“Those little guys are struggling hard right now,” Colton explained. “The ones that do have the setup, they can last a little bit, but it’s getting spooky.”
Yet he’s grateful for the community’s help and that these animals still have a home.
“I’m ecstatic, at times, teary-eyed thinking about that stuff,” Colton said. “We are trying to figure out how to tell all these people thank you for keeping us here.”