FOUNTAIN INN, S.C. - A South Carolina woman who bought a farm nearly five years ago unintentionally turned it into a unicorn farm — yes, you read that correctly.
Kate Nichols owns Hidden Pasture Unicorn Farm, also known as the Unicorn Farm, located in Fountain Inn, South Carolina.
When Nichols originally purchased the farm, it started off as a sanctuary for miniature horses.
"Well, it was kind of an accident. I bought the house four years ago, without the intention of ever really having a unicorn farm, but my partner and I suddenly got into rescuing mini horses because they become lawn ornaments. Suddenly we had 25," Nichols explained.
Two of the mini horses, Winnie (left) and Sapphire (right) on Nichols’ farm. (Kate Nichols)
Nichols and her partner, Rick DeBerry, soon acquired a few larger horses and various farm animals such as chickens and goats, but the idea to turn her sanctuary into a unicorn farm did not happen until her partner gifted her with a handmade unicorn horn to put on one of the horses.
"We would take them out around town to places like Home Depot that allowed animals, and Rick, he had made me a unicorn horn for Christmas and I put it on my little white horse, whose name is George. And we took George to Home Depot and this lady stopped me and she said, ‘How much money do I need to give you to bring that unicorn to my child’s birthday?’ And I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ and she said yes," Nichols said.
So Nichols ended up bringing George to a birthday party for all the guests to enjoy and pet him and from there, word spread like wildfire about the miniature unicorn.
One of the miniature horses adorns a unicorn horn made by Kate Nichols. (Kate Nichols)
Nichols decided to capitalize on the idea to have people pay to get a "real-live" unicorn to visit them for an event. The money earned from the visits to the farm and events would be optimal for paying for the care her animals needed at the sanctuary.
"An amazing series of events occurred that was very, serendipity, and suddenly we had a unicorn farm," Nichols said with a chuckle.
"I had no problem putting a unicorn horn on my horse as an adult woman and walking it around town because I think they’re awesome," Nichols added.
Nichols now makes all of the unicorn horns by hand and they’re made with sturdy materials because the animals can be a tad rough with them.
Baby mini horse, Opposum, being bottle fed. (Kate Nichols)
Each unicorn has its own stall and each has its own backstory to indulge visitors as they live a unicorn fantasy.
For instance, George "is the mightiest and most powerful of all the unicorns in the world."
"He has the power to harness all the other unicorns’ magic and use it through his own magic. No storm or dragon can defeat George but he has one flaw, as all super beings do, if George eats a crimson ‘trisnip’ by mistake, he will be rendered completely powerless for up to 15 minutes. This is long enough to be defeated by Helux, the dragon of destruction," Nichols read.
The unicorn farm now takes in a plethora of animals such as donkeys, goats and even rabbits.
Nichols has a soft spot for horses but welcomes many kinds of animals to her sanctuary. In many cases, the animals have found their forever home, but Nichols said if there is an exceptional critter who would be better off with another family, they will rehome the animal.
People can visit the farm throughout the year and pay a small entrance fee to enjoy the company of the many animals at Nichols’ sanctuary.
Bramble, the mini cow. (Kate Nichols)
"We call it the ‘love dump’ because when you come here, you get all this love from these amazing animals, and you get your heart filled up and then you get to leave and you feel so happy. It’s just great," Nichols said as she hugged Jupiter, a 13-year-old horse at the sanctuary.
Nichols said the farm has reached capacity and she is already working on building another barn to make room for more residents.
In the meantime, she will continue to care for them until they’ve passed on or potentially find a new home.
"It is a sanctuary for them. They can live here forever. This is their home and I will always care for them and provide love and do everything I can to make sure that they’re provided for and they have happy lives and they get to be happy equines like they deserve."
With the holiday season in full swing, Nichols has already been hard at work setting up the Yuletide Unicorn Festival she started about three years ago to allow fans of the farm to visit a fully decorated Christmas wonderland — unicorn and "uni-donks" included.
The festival runs Nov. 12 through Dec. 19.
"It’s a real-life unicorn farm. It’s a magical place, it really is," Nichols said.