The exotic animals on Adolf and Lillian Adam’s Echo Valley Ranch might not be real, but for an unsuspecting visitor, they are real enough.
In fact, the farm itself, is like an animal wax museum, with full sized figures of zebras, giraffes, elephants, dinosaurs, buffaloes, polar bears, penguins and a variety of winged creatures as well as almost every other animal one can imagine.
The Fiberglass animals line the driveway of Echo Valley Ranch and seem to meander about throughout the farm site, popping up unexpectedly everywhere and anywhere.
Adolf Adam, his 11-year-old grandson Colton in tow, gave the Review a guided tour of the place recently, starting off with a statue of a grandpa dressed in overalls with a cigar clamped firmly in his mouth.
Adam jokingly said it was a statue he created of himself taking a break from all his creative endeavors.
Adam’s unusual collection of animals, both exotic and domestic began several years ago.
The only difference is at the beginning they were not all made out of stucco wire and fiberglass and copied from a picture.
They were all real.
It seems Adam’s love of the unusual was born in him. He recalled his first pet as being a chipmunk that he carried in his pocket to church. The practice continued until well-meaning adults put a stop to it.
In later years, he enjoyed spending time with Al Oeming at his game farm near Edmonton. The whole family became acquainted with the Walt Disney filming crew, as well.
Adam was a dairy farmer for 30 years, but the passion for creatures of the wild never left him, and when he and his wife Lillian and their three sons Lorne, Shane and Allan moved to the Rimbey area in 1979, he gave that passion full rein.
His farm, the Echo Valley Ranch, overlooking the Blindman River Valley, was once filled with exotic animals including pygmy and angora goats, four horned sheep, donkeys, buffalo and several varieties chickens.
Those were the good years, he said. He and his wife recall many happy memories of those days, as their family grew, and they all enjoyed spending time with the animals. They recalled how their sons would tie a donkey to a cart and go for fun and exciting rides.
However, exotic animals are expensive to feed and house and at the end of the day, reality dictated replacing the real animals with Fiberglass figures which would be cheaper in the long run, and, in their own way, just as entertaining.
“They don’t need no fences or cages,” said Adam with a smile. “The exotic animals took a lot of looking after.”
And so began a new journey of creating his own animals.
“All he needs is a picture out of a book,” said Lillian, adding he uses fiberglass and stucco wire to complete his creations.
During the last decade, Allan has created wonderful life size animals including his own version of Jurassic park.
The creation helped earn Adolf and Lillian an award for the Best Country Garden by the Agricultural Services Board, County of Ponoka in 1996.
As well as the weird and wonderful assortment of animals Allan has created using little more than imagination and Fiberglass, he has built a miniature town including replicas of a school, church, elevator and barn and much more of days gone by.
Much of Adam’s display lights up at night, making it even more spectacular.
Seeing is believing and the Adams encourage visitors to come out and see for themselves the wild and unusual world that one man’s creativity has brought to life.
“We don’t mind visitors. They are more than welcome,” said Adam. “We want people to stop in.”
Echo Valley Ranch is located 1.8 kilometers west of Hwy. 20 on the Medicine Lake Road. It is the second farm to the south.