Roosters crow and birds chirp into the early morning breeze, while horses and goats graze in verdant pastures.

The smell of grass and hay, soil and manure fill the air, nature’s alternative to exhaust fumes and fossil fuels. 

At Sun and Moon Ranch, the Conley family starts their day by filling water troughs, mixing hay for hungry horses and scattering feed for squawking chickens.

Shannan Hearne, 49, and her husband Cory Conley, 48, and their two sons moved to the ranch at 1966 B. Stokes Road last month. It provides a peaceful habitat where horses, roosters, chickens, cats, dogs and goats, coexist. 

The family hopes it also will be a haven for visitors to discover the pleasures of farm life. 

The ranch is a horse riding and boarding facility that also serves as a place where everyone can enjoy animals and nature in a stress-free atmosphere.

On Sunday, Sun and Moon Ranch had its grand opening. Local families and neighbors rode horses, took pictures, made friends and savored local cuisine from vendors.

Sun and Moon Ranch offers visitors something that growing up in an urban environment does not, Hearne said.

“When you ask children where they think food comes from, they will think of a grocery store or a restaurant,” she said. “Here, people can gain a proper understanding of where their food comes from, the circle of life, something very different from growing up in apartment building.”

Farm life

Hearne, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., grew up riding horses at the Pony Club. Her first ride took place when she was two years old.

“A lot of kids weren’t as fortunate as I was,” she said.

An equine instructor since she was 14, Hearne said she has done it all, when it comes to being around horses, from showing them to barrel racing and trail riding. With multiple horses on the farm, Sun and Moon ranch offers horse leasing, rentals and lessons.

Private lessons are available, and Hearne said they are custom tailored to meet each individual’s needs. Leasing includes boarding, food, veterinary care and allows individuals the chance to ride their horse anytime they wish.

But there is more to the ranch than just riding.

Hearne said she wants her ranch to offer a variety of experiences — from goat yoga to animal therapy.

“I want this to be a place for everyone,” Hearne said. “ If you want to come photograph, write, ride horses, pet animals, or walk around in the grass in your bare feet and hang out with chickens or baby goats, it’s completely your choice.”

Hearne said she hopes to eventually open to the ranch up to holistic practicioners and allow them to use the ranch and the friendly barnyard animals to allow their clients to enjoy the beauty of farm living.

“Winston Churchill once said, ‘They’re’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man,’” Hearne said.

Family life

Although Hearne’s background was steeped in ranch life, her family’s was not. Conley is a Houston, Texas, native who worked in the transportation industry, driving elderly and disabled patients to and from doctor appointments.

But Hearne said they have made a smooth adjustment to working on the family ranch

“My husband and two sons have been great farm help and they seem to be enjoying the farm life,” she said. 

Because of the animals, Hearne has noticed something special about living out in the country.

“We’re all a little calmer and we argue less,” she said. “ We talk more and we have good quality family time. That’s definitely something I want everybody to experience while they’re here.” 

To learn more about Sun and Moon Ranch, visit it on Facebook.  

Contact Tyler Stocks at or 252-329-9566.  Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR