A 3 1/2 -acre animal refuge near Washougal is expanding to 93 acres. The hitch is, Odd Man Inn has to move to Tennessee to make that happen.
Earlier this month, founders Wendy and Josh Smith began the lengthy, involved process of moving themselves and 100 rehabilitated farm animals to the Pig Preserve in Jamestown, Tenn. Rich and Laura Hoyle formerly owned that sanctuary, which will continue to operate under the Odd Man Inn name.
That name, by the way, comes from the Smiths’ affinity for rehabilitating the “oddballs,” those who are considered “too mangy” and “too bitey,” and structuring the refuge like a hotel for animals.
Wendy Smith met Rich Hoyle after he nursed one of Wendy’s pigs, Jolene, back to health following a medical emergency.
Wendy Smith then flew to Tennessee to work with Hoyle on his farm for three days, where she had a revelation and struck an agreement with him.
“I knew that he was in his 70s and that my window to meet him, thank him, and learn from him was probably going to be short,” Wendy Smith said. “During those three days, I realized he and his wife were looking for successors. It just so happens that Odd Man Inn was looking for property; they have 93 acres and 161 pigs that honestly need the next generation to come in and take the reins.”
Before merging the two herds, the swine at the Pig Preserve are being checked for diseases and parasites. Josh Smith is heading operations in Tennessee while Wendy is managing the Washougal property until all checks are completed.
The Smiths will be transporting goats, sheep, ducks, turtles and dogs, as well as two steers and 38 pigs of their own. The trek is a 36-hour drive. It will require a minimum of 10 trailer trips to relocate all of Odd Man Inn’s animals, Wendy Smith said.
And that doesn’t include trips dedicated to moving farming equipment, tools and building materials. The team at Odd Man Inn has created a triage list of the order of animals leaving, with the healthiest and biggest ones going first.
“I imagine we’re going to be caravaning across the United States like a circus,” Wendy Smith joked. “It is going to be comical. Even though what we’re doing is really serious, we really enjoy showing people the behind-the-scenes and the reality of caring for so many animals.”
She added that the refuge’s Instagram followers admire the team’s honesty regarding the difficulty of its job, which includes the complications of driving two three-legged pigs across the country.
Wendy Smith, a registered nurse, said it was too expensive to acquire property on such a grand scale in the Pacific Northwest. The move to Tennessee not only “maximizes dollars, but also the amount of good that we can do as just two do-gooders,” she said.
All of Odd Man Inn’s staff are volunteers, some of whom are strongly considering moving with the couple to the new property, while others will be staying behind.
The Smiths plan to disassemble as much of their materials, such as pig houses and bird aviaries, on their Washougal property so that it can be reused in Tennessee. They will then put their old house up for sale.
Over time, the couple have carefully calculated the long-term logistics of the massive project that lies ahead.
“We’re in our 40s,” Smith said. “We’re looking at another 15 to 20 years of good, hard work that we will spend getting Odd Man Inn in a position to be a solvent organization that can exist into the next generation.”
Growing up in the inner city of New Orleans, Wendy Smith never imagined she and her husband would care for so many animals on such a vast stretch of land. But now, the two are shifting from a small refuge in their front yard to running one of the largest animal sanctuaries in the country – their dream come true.