Atlantic County Magazine – GACCA Article
Print Date 4.30.2021
By Judy Brenna
I’d like to talk about Funny Farm. Not to be confused with the 1988 smash hit ((not really)) starring Chevy Chase. Fun side bar, I won a $10 bet once with my Mom about this movie. She was convinced Chevy Chase’s wife was played by Sela Ward and I said it was a different actress. After a playfully heated debate, we made a little wager. I won. And my mother realized to never challenge me when it came to movie knowledge ever again. Also, fun fact I am still, to this day, undefeated at the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. But I digress, Funny Farm.
Funny Farm Rescue An Animal Sanctuary is a 15-acre privately owned farm in Mays Landing, that shelters and cares for unwanted, sick, elderly, injured, and abused animals since 2000, owned and operated by ((total girl crush alert)) Laurie Zaleski, who, by the by, is an unequivocal Rockstar, for so many reasons. Laurie was taught the importance of caring for other beings who were incapable of caring for themselves by her mother, a fierce, single Mom raising 4 kids on her own, who would take in strays on a regular basis, at some point even a horse! So, it seemed like a natural progression, after establishing her career in a different field, to return to her mother’s roots and start the farm, a dedication to her Mom, after she lost her battle with cancer. Flash forward 21 years later and the farm Laurie promised to her mother is going strong, and now a non-profit organization to boot.
Last Wednesday, The GACCA had the unique opportunity to tour the facility, learn about Funny Farm’s program, and spend time with the animals ((I made an unusually special bond with a pig named Bubbles and a bull named Yogi, who came up to the fence, bowed his head and let me pet him as he slowly mooed)). There is an endless supply of stories I could share. There are countless anecdotes I could quip. You would literally be reading this for 3 hours. I’m not quite sure how to articulate what a soul changing experience this visit was for me. I arrived early so I had some time to walk around the property. My very first impression of the place was the sense of peace the farm encapsulated. Sure, there were roosters constantly cock-a-doodle-dooing, but it didn’t take away from the serenity that pulsed in the air. The animals roam free, well, for the most part, some were in paddocks, but they all seemed so happy. My jaw stayed in the dropped position the entire time.
Funny Farm prides itself on the well-being of over 550 animals. They care for everything from emus, cows, bulls, racehorses, pigs, goats, bunnies, llamas, cats, dogs, and all kinds of fowl, to a REALLY old donkey, who, fingers crossed, one day, breaks the world record for being the oldest donkey in the world ((you got this, buddy!)). They give domestic, farm and exotic animals alike the opportunity to live out their natural lives in a happy, and most importantly, safe, and protected home. Funny Farm is essentially the last hope for an animal.
Another part of their mission is to prevent the cruelty to animals by increasing the awareness of animal abuse through education. And why? Because hurting any life, human, animal or otherwise, is just plain WRONG. You, a human, make an active choice to take an animal into your home as part of your family. Their sole purpose in life is to love you unconditionally. All you need to do is be patient, feed, care for, and love them in return. It’s not rocket science. The stories Laurie shared as she introduced us to each animal were unsettling to say the least. I cannot even explain to you the atomic level of anger that rose within. The act of abuse, to any being, in any form, is absolutely absurd to me. Which is why places like Funny Farm are so incredibly crucial to our existence. They are a reminder of what’s right in this world. Not to bring religion into this article, because I try my darndest to avoid religion or politics, but there is an extremely special place in heaven for Laurie and her crew.
Which leads me to my next topic: how we can help. Funny Farm doesn’t run on the whimsical hopes and dreams of children alone ((although that would be pretty sweet if it did)). There are so many ways we can do this. Take a day and go visit the farm, drop some cash in their bucket on your way into the parking lot. Bring food and/or supplies from their wish list on their website. Donate your time to help care for the animals. Whip out your check book and gift them funds ((it’s a non-profit remember so it’s a tax write-off)). Follow them on Instagram and Facebook and share their posts to continue to get out their message. Buy one of their children’s books on their website that deal with great subjects like anti-bullying, co-existing in harmony, the importance of caring for another being. My favorite is “Chucky the Miracle Dog” ((as my throat starts to constrict and eyes begin to water, buy the book, you’ll understand)). All the characters in every book are actual animals from Funny Farm. Every book runs you about $12 and every dollar goes to feeding the many animals at the sanctuary. And something I’m super stoked for is Laurie Zaleski’s autobiography that’s slated to come out in September of this year, because you know, girl crush
I urge you to consider Funny Farm Rescue An Animal Sanctuary for your next adventure, (they’re open to the public every Tuesday and Sunday 8am to 4 pm) for a day trip, or for volunteer work and/or charity. If you recall the scientific proof that I explained in my article regarding Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, you’ll understand why. Doing something selfless and good in the world will make you a happier human being. So, get out there and get happy. Go to Funny Farm. Find them at http://funnyfarmrescue.org, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FunnyFarmRescue, or on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/funnyfarmrescue/. If you go, just remember to wear shoes you don’t mind getting dirty. It IS a farm after all. Until next week, folks… #stayjerseystrong!