Kay Cox admits that when she talks about the connection she feels with animals, it can occasionally raise an eyebrow or two.
But no one can scoff at the amount of time, effort and money she and her husband, Steve, have put forth during their lifetime to help animals of all sizes and shapes.
The Chandler couple lives on a 2-acre plot where they have been for the past 28 years. Their massive backyard is home to dozens of animals, from peacocks to goats to roosters and chickens, and even a mini-horse thrown in the mix.
They all live together peacefully because Cox would have it no other way.
"There is no fighting back here, I see to it they all get along," she said.
Her love for and desire to help animals stem from when she was a child, when she learned she had a special connection with them.
But her involvement almost stopped before it really got started when she was 3 years old. Cox was told by a doctor that she had asthma and that she would not be able to be around animals.
"When I found out, my dad told me later that I yelled out, ‘If I can't have any animals, then kill me, kill me right now,'" she said. "That's how much it meant to me then. And they mean even more to me now."
That connection, she said, she feels is through communication.
"It's hard to put into words, but I feel a special bond with animals," she said.
Cox said when she was a young child at a picnic with her parents, a mother squirrel told her that she had babies in a tree out of sight.
"I said to my dad, ‘She's got three babies in that tree over there,'" Cox said. "And he asked me how I knew that. My response was that the mother squirrel told me."
Later she said her father went to check and sure enough, there on the branch of the tree were three baby squirrels.
Cox has many stories about how animals have impacted her life and vice versa. It has led her to her "farm," which is a shelter for animals in need.
The couple's organization, Save the Farm, takes in just about any type of wildlife. Not only do they repair a broken wing or leg or whatever the case may be, but they also build their own cages and use them to rehabilitate the injured animals.
"For example, birds and rabbits each have a different enclosure where we keep them until they are ready to be freed or let out into the yard," Cox said.
By her count, Cox said she had 20 peacocks, six goats, 10 cats, a goose, a duck and dozens of birds.
When someone brings in an injured or displaced animal, the couple ask for a donation, but even with those, they are still paying the biggest chunk. It can be a financial strain on them at times, Cox said, but they are surviving.
"Once you're living with animals like we are, it's hard to go back," she said. "We are doing OK right now, but we could also use help, whether it is from donations or a helping hand."
The couple has regular communication with city zoos, giving and receiving animals.
"The children's zoo will call me and ask me what I've got," Cox said. "I take goats from them, fix them up and give them back."
Save our Farm accepts most animals, but Cox said, except in special situations, they do not accept cats and dogs.
"There are so many rescue shelters out there for cats and dogs so we try to point people in their direction," she said.
Save the Farm produces a monthly newsletter to let people know what is going on. To get involved, e-mail Cox at Kay@thepetcounselor.com.