Izzy will be 8 years old in April, and he’s lived nearly all his life in Waitsburg.
He’s been a star attraction on Highway 12 just west of town, sometimes stopping traffic as visitors hit their brakes at the sight of the big camel in a field with the horses and miniature donkeys.
But last week, Izzy became a Prescott resident.
He and his field-family — six horses, a miniature horse and two miniature donkeys — spent the last two days of 2015 moving into their new home at the intersection of Highway 124 and Hart Road, less than a mile east of Prescott.
In the next few months, Izzy’s “parents,” Mickey and Tawnya Richards, will join him. They’re selling their Waitsburg home and remodeling the Hart Road house, with high hopes to move in this spring or summer.
Izzy’s fans have expressed sadness at his relocation, both in person and on Izzy’s popular Facebook page, Tawnya said.
“But this is really going to be the best thing for him, and for us,” she said.
Izzy’s new home is still along a highway, and passersby will be able to see him, especially once the grass and brush between the field and highway are trimmed. The Richards family is debating whether to put up a sign on the highway as well.
At the new location, though, visitors who want to take pictures or feed Izzy his favorite snacks — carrots, apples, peanuts, dates and wasabi peas — can pull off the highway onto Hart Road. The family hopes to create a wide turnout so guests can safely stop.
“Where he was before, we’d see 20 to 30 cars a day, depending on the weather,” Mickey said. “Often they’d stop right in the middle of the busy highway, on that corner.”
Izzy’s fame has continued to grow since the Richards family brought him home from the Boise Horse Expo seven years ago. In June, he was a guest star on the SyFy channel series Z Nation, and he’s a regular, popular feature at many regional events.
“We just finished his last three sets of live Nativity scenes in Yakima, Pendleton and Milton-Freewater,” Tawnya said Thursday, as she and Mickey moved the last of the animals to their new home. “I think he’s about done for the season, unless someone calls about a birthday party or other event. He’s been busy, and he’s keeping us busy.”
The Richards family have their hands full with their animals. In addition to Izzy, they own five American Paint horses, a big American Cream Draft horse named Mack, two miniature donkeys named Whinnie and Mona, a miniature horse and rabbits.
They also are planning to add chickens to the family. And they may rescue a few alpacas from Spokane, though that isn’t a sure thing yet, Mickey said.
“I guess I’m kind of a hoarder,” he said, chuckling. But the critters make him happy.
Standing inside the home he and Tawnya will move into, he watched Izzy and friends through the living room window and talked about where he found each animal and how excited he is he’ll soon get to see them every day like this.
It will be the first time the family will be be living on the same property as all of their animals.
“We’re very excited,” Tawnya said. “It’s been a long time coming, that’s for sure.”
Their home in Waitsburg is 10 blocks from where they were keeping the animals on property leased from Carol Weir.
“We would sometimes get calls at 2 or 3 a.m. from neighbors telling us that Izzy or one of the other animals was out of the fence,” Tawnya said. “Now we’ll be right here.”
The family had planned to buy the property where Izzy’s lived for the last five years, but the Weir family recently decided to sell the pasture and adjoining house as a single unit. Tawnya and Mickey weren’t interested in the house.
So they started looking for a new place last summer and quickly found the Hart Road location.
“Everything just fell into place,” Tawnya said.
The deal closed in November.
Izzy looked content in his new digs. He was excited to see his friends Mack, Whinnie and Moana as the Richardses unloaded them from the trailer. Izzy galloped across the pasture toward them and made loud, deep groans.
“That means he’s happy,” Mickey said, grinning as he watched the camel draw near.