FEATURE: Farm-ville?


    Suburbs like Aurora wouldn’t feel the same if wasn’t for good neighbors. They can be good therapists, and when you’re in a pinch, they might give you a ride.

    Linda Fisher’s favorite neighbors have four legs, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. On her 12-acre plot, Kenlyn Stables, more than 100 horses mill about barns and stables and arenas on a property that feels like a typical country home. But this isn’t the country. It’s Aurora. To be more precise, it’s Kierkagaard Acres, one the city’s older neighborhoods and a community home to dozens of horse farms and other agricultural operations. Across the street, one of Fisher’s neighbors has a goat. Others have alpacas.

    The city is known for its sea of tract homes, sprawling and densely populated apartment complexes and tightly packed neighborhoods. But there’s agricultural land — and the way of life that goes with it — here, too.

    Kierkegaard is sort of ground zero for the city’s ag scene, but it isn’t alone. In the heart of the city, near East Exposition Avenue and Havana Street, Aurora Stables has thrived for years, offering horse stalls and riding space smack in the middle of a bustling urban landscape.

    To the south, 11 Mile Stables at Cherry Creek Reservoir boasts dozens of horses, as do several agricultural plots on  the southeast end of town. Even along East Jewell Avenue between South Peoria Street and South Havana Street, a handful of ranches sit on a few acres, melding easily into the surrounding suburbs.

    “Aurora has probably more little horse properties than anybody ever knows,” Fisher said on a chilly afternoon this fall, her two dogs scurrying around her kitchen.

    The ranches and horse properties largely remain hidden for a variety of reasons. For one, some, like those in Kierkagaard, are close to the city’s edge and pushed a good distance off the bustling boulevards. Others are surrounded on all sides by residential neighborhoods that provide a sort of buffer from the folks who don’t already know they’re there.

    But there’s more to it than that. Folks who embrace the agricultural lifestyle just enjoy the privacy. Fisher’s Kenlyn Stables, for example, has been in business for decades, providing stables for horse owners and breeding and selling Arabian horses. But the operation is hardly one Fisher boasts about. There’s no sign when you pull up, and if it wasn’t for a massive horse stable with her company’s name and logo on the side, you could easily assume it’s just another of many horse farms in the area.

    “We’re like a little hidden wonder back here,” Fisher says.

    Fisher and her husband, Ken — the stable’s name, Kenlyn, is a combo of their first names — bought their property in 1979. The area has a rural feeling today, but that was even more pronounced when Fisher arrived 35 years ago. For one, nearby Airport Boulevard dead ended at East Sixth Avenue, meaning much of Kierkagaard was accessible only by dirt roads.

    And what is today Kenlyn Stables was a property in need of help. The property was once home to an Appaloosa breeding operation, but the owner before Fisher wasn’t interested in that side of things and the home and adjacent ranch facilities needed work.

    Fisher set about turning the property around and eventually — thanks to a horse-first focus that meant hours spent on the stables and barns — she eventually did. Today, she not only boards several dozen horses for her clients, she also breeds prize-winning Arabians. On any given day, the property is home to about 50 horses, several of them the Arabians bearing the Kenlyn name.

    Diana Zettlemoyer has been one of Fisher’s customers for more than 18 years. Her two horses, Stealth and Guarantee, live in the stables there, while Zettlemoyer makes her home in southwest Aurora.  “I schedule my day around when I can ride,” she said.

    Zettlemoyer said she spends as much time at the stables as she can, not just riding, but hanging out with Fisher and the animals there. She talks about Kenlyn with a fondness you’d expect from someone who works there, not a customer.

    For Fisher, the location in Kierkagaard couldn’t be better. She has ridden her whole life — her mom said she could winnie before she could walk — and when her husband was stationed at the old Lowry Air Force Base, they set about finding their new home. Fisher said she wanted to breed horses, but she also didn’t want to be too far from the conveniences of the city. Kierkagaard offers that. She can walk a few steps from her front door, saddle a horse and head out for a ride on the plains. And if she needs to run to the grocery store? That’s only a quick ride away. The property provides the best of urban and country living.

    “I have it all out here,” she said.