Landmark pony ride

Today’s Los Angeles Times notes the passing of Linda Menary, who ran the ramshackle barnyard petting zoo and pony ride called The Farm that has been at Tampa Avenue and Lanark Street in Reseda for about four decades. She died May 1 of a heart attack suffered while driving to Bakersfield for a horse auction. Her animals at the Farm included a yak named Margaret and an ostrich called Monster, often visible while driving down Tampa.

“She figured she was the last hope to keep the ranch lifestyle alive in the Valley,” said Alexandra Gravani, 28, who began volunteering at the pony ride when she was 11. “What Linda has given the community is priceless.”Maintaining the 80-animal menagerie that included lambs and emus was a financial and personal struggle.

Menary often battled city zoning and animal control officers over such issues as operating a business in a residential zone or the number of animals allowed on the property.

She considered herself one of the last rural holdouts in a booming metropolis and toyed with closing the animal emporium that she had started building after moving to the Valley in 1961. But she had a commitment to keep.

“We should leave it a farm,” Menary, who lived in Chatsworth, told The Times in 2000. “It’s something for the children.”

Future plans are uncertain, though her family would like to keep the pony ride open. This first story about her death in the Daily News prompted an outcry in Chatsworth, were Menary was a popular equestrian. The Daily News followed up with a feature story and a personal remembrance by columnist Gregory Wilcox.