Laura Miner, her husband Roy, and their children Alexa, 3, Jonathan, 1, Meghan, 13, Violet, 8, Cherie, 15, and Ellen, 10, pose with a few of their animals that participate in the family’s Hope Hills farm and petting zoo. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Laura Miner, her husband Roy, and their children Alexa, 3, Jonathan, 1, Meghan, 13, Violet, 8, Cherie, 15, and Ellen, 10, pose with a few of their animals that participate in the family’s Hope Hills farm and petting zoo. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Roy and Laura Miner have plenty of kids to look after these days. With six children of their own, ages 1 through 15, and plenty of young goats - also known as "kids" - the Madison couple has their hands full.

But it's all part of their plan and new business.

This summer, the family began a mobile petting zoo, Hope Hills Farm & Petting Zoo, using a passenger van to haul around different breeds of goats, chickens, rabbits and puppies, and other pets. Around the same time, they purchased a 68-acre plot off Olive Branch Road that now houses their animals, 11 goats and the family's dogs.

"We knew we always wanted to have animals, but we had to wait until the timing was right," Roy said.

The timing was right this June when the family officially began the petting zoo and purchased the van. Then came the test drive.

"Sort of to test things out we had friends who had a birthday party, so we brought our petting zoo to their house. And we just transported the animals in dog kennels," Roy said.

The idea for the petting zoo, or at least a farm with animals, has been a long time coming.

Roy, a physician at King's Daughters' Health, grew up in Virginia and describes himself as "kind of a city boy." Laura grew up in Montana and has been close to animals throughout her life.

They moved to Madison more than four years ago and quickly had their eyes on a farm filled with a host of animals.

"My wife has been waiting patiently for a farm and animals," Roy said.

The business logo, which features a dove holding an olive branch and a rainbow in the background, comes from the story of Noah and the flood in the Bible but also is a wordplay on the family's Olive Branch Road address.

"We came up with Hope Hills because of the hope God sent Noah after the flood," he said.

Outside of the Miners' home on Olive Branch Road - which is just a quarter-mile from their farm - the family has several chicken coups filled with various breeds. Their daughter, Meghan, 13, showed the chickens at the Jefferson County 4-H Fair this year.

Aside from the chickens, it also was at the county fair that the family found their love for goats - specifically Nigerian dwarf goats. The goats are low maintenance and easier to cart around because they are not much bigger than a small dog. They have three Nigerian dwaft goats and another on the way.

"They're super friendly, so they pretty much come right to you," Roy said.

Down the road, the idea is to take the mobile zoo to regional locations such as Cincinnati or Louisville for church events, fairs and even birthday parties. The family also hopes to add some miniature horses to make the petting zoo more exotic.

"We're hopeful that it'll take off more," Roy said. "We just enjoy sharing God's creations with others."

Hope Hills Farm & Petting Zoo can be contacted by calling (812) 701-4407 or hopehillsfarm@gmail.com.