Tonya and Dave Edwards traded in the city life of buzzing shops and bustling work lives in Appleton, Wis. for the humming of the alpacas and friendship of 50 plus animals on a little farmstead in Luxemburg, Wis.
The Edwards currently own and operate Wilson’s Wish, a home to deserving animals with a second chance at a first impression. Currently, at capacity, the farm has more than 50 animals, including mini donkeys, dogs, goats, chickens, ducks, alpacas, mini horses, sheep, cats, and potbelly pigs. A few of these animals have special needs, including two small goats, Lily Beans and Penny, who use wheeled carts to assist them in walking.
Wilson’s Wish began as a space for the Edwards to foster senior and special needs dogs, and in the last three years, they have grown it into something special in Kewaunee County. The name of their organization is based on their first foster dog, Wilson a Great Pyrenees, who they decided to care for so he would not have to go to the pound to wait for adoption.
“We feel like it would have been his wish that other animals got the second chance opportunity like he did,” Tonya said. “That is where the name and whole purpose about this place was born.”
Wilson sadly passed away from cancer, but he is the heart of the organization and the feature of their logo. If you’ve taken a drive on County Road AB, you may have seen the big white dog painted on a blue shed on their property.
After Wilson, they adopted other pups including Moe, another Great Pyrenees, who they found did better with farm animals. Before too long the Edwards took in their first large animals, two alpacas.
The intriguing part of Wilson’s Wish is that neither Tonya or Dave come from a life of farming or caring for farm animals. Now on their second property, they have been working for the last three plus years to build a network of specialists who can help mentor them on the care of their many animals.
“We'll learn anything we can as long as somebody helps us and we kind of have a mentor with each subset of animals,” Tonya said.
They do a lot of research, tap into specialists', work with veterinarians, nutritionists, and more to make sure each animal has the best care.
As they started joining different Facebook groups for unwanted farm animals and making friends in the Kewaunee County area, they quickly found word had gotten around about them as a foster space and the animals kept on coming.
Wilson’s Wish has both made many farmer and animal-loving friends, who have supported them with advice, education, donations, and love. “Up to this point we've been very lucky. We have had some very generous donors that have helped us out a lot into this point,” Tonya said.
The couple has done as much as possible to take their foster farm to the next level by hosting unique events and by making special appearances with the animals. Tonya is a former large event planner, and has been inspired to bring that experience to the farm.
To start hosting and to create more of a community space, they upgraded from three acres to their current larger five-acre space in 2020, adjacent to both Green Bay and Door County. Tonya reflected that the best part of their work is the farm events, and seeing families come with kids, or when they take Lily places, they see people who may be struggling or hitting a rough patch or are defining themselves by their choices.
“They see and interact with the animals, and know nothing of the animal’s past,” Tonya said. “The animals are getting their second chance, and we hope that the people who visit give themselves grace and see they too can have another shot.” There are many plans for the future at Wilson’s Wish, including updating their barns to have maternity pens, new pastures, and maybe even host a space for people to experience farm life.
However, at the end of the day, the Edwards are all about the animals and are working hard to make sure each one is loved and cared for as best as possible.
To learn about their upcoming events and see photos of the animals, visit their Facebook Page, @WilsonsWishLuxemburg. They are also on Instagram as @Wilsons.Wish.