CHAUMONT, N.Y. (WWTI) — “You can’t make this stuff up:” This is a phrase that is commonly expressed at Garnsey’s Feral Acres located in the North Country.
This 158-acre animal sanctuary is home to creatures of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. Garnsey’s Feral Acres was started two years ago by North Country natives Jeff and Julie Garnsey, when they took in their first animals.
“This is definitely not something that I grew into. It just kind of happened,” Garnsey explained. And the first thing you know, you have three or four and then you have 10 or 20, and then you hit 50, and then it becomes serious.”
Their inspiration to start the organization, and take on animals was based on a gap Garnsey noticed in the North Country.
“There was such a huge need in this area for a rescue for large animals, and specifically animals that didn’t necessarily have rights. What really started that? Rescuing that first animal,” he added.
That first animal, was Zeus the pig, who still lives on the farm today. Now the 58 animals not only are provided a safe place, they coexist together. Garnsey shared that its not rare to see the dogs playing with donkeys, different breeds of pigs “chatting” and cows snuggling with volunteers.
Backgrounds stories of animals on the farm include pigs in abusive homes, donkeys on their way to be sold on the black market, a newborn calf injured by coyotes on an island on the St. Lawrence River, dogs rescued from across the world and a colony of “feral cats.”
As Garnsey’s Feral Acres continues to grow with new “members,” the need for physical expansions has become a priority. Garnsey is about to start his first capital campaign, hoping to raise $150,000 to build a new barn to house all the animals in the winter.
The animals have also been connected with individuals from around the world through social media and receive sponsorships. This network is what Garnsey hopes will help enhance the farm with its next expansion.
“Being in Clayton and in the North Country, this is one of those places that really, really takes care of its own,” Garnsey expressed.
Sharing, “almost in every case, within a very short period of time, there’s a need for another rescue and you get another opportunity to change the stars of another animal.”
More information on how to support Garnsey’s Feral Acres can be found on the organization’s website and social media.