Save The Zoo | Winterpast Farm Animal Sanctuary

Please Help Save Winterpast Farm Petting Zoo in Wake Forest North Carolina.

I am ‘Farmer Mary” Droessler, a 57 year old Mother of four who, since 2003, has operated Winterpast Farm Petting Zoo, an animal sanctuary in Wake Forest North Carolina.  When I was a little girl I wanted animals and my Mother said I could have them when I got older. I am older now and Winterpast Farm is my front yard with peacocks, ducks, chickens, sheep, goats, emu, a donkey, mini pigs (former pets who grew and grew as all pigs do and quickly outgrew their former homes).  Almost every animal was a former pet and each has a long history. I planned to live here serving my animals and community until I die. I also planned for the farm/zoo to provide work for life for my special needs daughter who cannot drive. The farm is located outside of city bus lines and employment opportunities are limited since Elizabeth does not drive. Plans are for her to help run the zoo and for her to run camps year round. Children of all ages love Elizabeth!

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However, my older sister/investor suddenly wants out and is trying to force a sale of the ten acre farm that many special needs and unwanted animals call home. Unwanted pets donated by families who are weary of caring for them, “imperfect” animals donated by breeders(a rooster with a tail that leans, a rabbit who is blind, a rabbit whose white stripe on its face isn’t perfect width, a chicken who was the sole survivor of predator attack, a duck who lived in a home wearing a duck diaper, a goat someone bought as a baby and got tired of bottle feeding, a bunny found abandoned in a neighbors yard after they moved out, a pig with only three feet, ducks and chickens with twisted beaks or extra or missing toes. These animals and many more  all call Winterpast Farm “home”.  

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WINTERPAST FARM is….home. When Mary Droessler divorced in 2003 she and her two young sons, Ben and Thomas, moved from downtown Raleigh to a ten acre property in Wake Forest NC which had formerly been a tobacco farm, Christmas tree farm, and horse farm.

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The name of the farm came from Song of Solomon verse 2:11 which has appeared many times in Mary’s life. “For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come.”

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Bible Journaling by Farmer Mary

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Mary continued her second year as President of the PTA at Underwood Elementary School as they all adapted to their new life. By the next summer they hosted two special needs six year olds from Russia for the summer. In another year Svetlana (renamed Elizabeth Svetlana) and Sasha (which is Russian for Alex which he is now called) had been adopted and moved from Stavropol Russia to join the family.   In 2019, now Ben has graduated from NCSU and is a volunteer firefighter with Northern Wake Fire department. He  runs a successful marketing business @9milesmedia in downtown Raleigh, Thomas will be a Junior at NCSU, Elizabeth will be in her second year of a two year Scholars With Diverse Abilities Program at Appalachian State University and is on the college Marching Band Colorguard team after being on the Colorguard team all four years at Millbrook High School..  Farmer Mary had been told Elizabeth would “never count past 3” when she adopted her from a special needs orphanage in Russia. Farmer Mary and her three brothers never labeled her and look what she has accomplished so far!   Alex is working construction full time and living in Raleigh.

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WINTERPAST FARM is….  ….A place for special needs young adults to safely volunteer, helping to care for the animals. Families and teens also volunteer and some local business and scout groups occasionally help Farmer Mary care for the animals.

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….Home currently to Farmer Mary and Elizabeth who is home from AppState for the summer working hard to pay for her Fall tuition which by the grace of God is paid each semester in cash earned at the zoo.  Also home to dogs: CHARLIE the 10 year old Border Collie adopted from Wake County Animal Shelter 8 years ago, HENRY the 1 ½ year old Golden Retriever who was donated by a family at 11 weeks old after they found they were allergic to their new puppy, MAX the elderly Chihuahua mix who literally flagged down Farmer Mary’s Mobile Petting Zoo van and whose former owners didn’t want him back and SWEETIE the elderly Dachshund whose owners didn’t have time for her anymore.

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….A place for families, public and private school groups, preschools, homeschoolers,camps, Scouts, and individuals  to spend time outdoors enjoying nature and learning about animals and their behaviors.

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….A campground for Scouts, church groups and families including bonfires, camping, rocket launches, outdoor movies, fresh eggs for breakfast and wake up calls by BOB the rooster!

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….A safe summer home for a child or two from Belarus who are living in the post Chernobyl  nuclear accident pollution. Farmer Mary and her children hosted a child or two in their home every summer with amazing documented health benefits adding years to those childrens lifespan  after a summer in the United States.

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….A unique place for “fur children” (usually dogs but we have hosted cats, chickens, ducks, a Beta fish, guinea pigs, bunnies) of all sizes to spend the day or night. Many dogs vacation regularly at Winterpast Farm including some long term while their humans are working, serving in the military or recovering from illness.

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….A place where you can rent a baby goat for a Promposal, rent baby chicks to watch develop at home, collect chicken or duck eggs to hatch in a classroom, rent a nice donkey and sheep or goats for a church Live Nativity, rent a sweet former pet bunny for Easter photography, rent a former pet guinea pig and help Farmer Mary recycle existing pets instead of just creating more, rent a bunny (and find out how much poop a small animal can poop!) instead of buying one, rent a goat to jokingly exchange for a bride at an outdoor wedding...rentals help Farmer Mary continue to care for and feed all of the animals who call Winterpast Farm home.  One family that rents regularly has a son with a serious speech delay who amazingly has learned to say bunny, guinea pig, duckling and gosling during animal rentals.

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….A safe permanent (we hope!) burial ground for loved pets including dogs and guinea pigs and bunnies and baby birds that people regularly bring to Farmer Mary.

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...A place to donate that turtle that has grown too large for its aquarium or those fish that have outgrown your tank or pond. Farmer Mary has turned her in ground pool into a pond which is home for many former pets. The diving board has been transformed into a waterfall and frogs, dragonflies, hummingbirds, water lilies enchant farm visitors as well as educate them about the seasons of life for pond animals.

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...A place where visitors of all ages regularly say they had the best day of their life.  Where many families and individuals visit regularly and really get to know and have a relationship with the animals.  Winterpast Farm makes a difference, not just to unwanted “imperfect” animals but to families and individuals of all ages.  Many farm visitors donate Adirondak chairs for more seating and then Farmer Mary paints their name on the seat as a “Friend of the Farm”.

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Please consider donating to help save Winterpast Farm Petting Zoo and please SHARE with any of your friends who love animals, friends who love adoption, friends who love special needs children, and friends who love the idea of saving an old farm and tobacco barn and homestead that dates from the 1730’s.  Farmer Mary usually likes to be the one helping others and she would not be asking for help if she wasn’t desperate to save the land to keep a safe loving home for all the animals. She has willing hands and heart but running a petting zoo animal rescue doesn’t create a lot of income. She is willing to do without in order to care for the animals and provide for her children, but she seriously needs help right now to hang onto the land that is Winterpast Farm.

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Currently Farmer Mary’s legal expenses have taken all of  her sore tooth savings, her savings for a colonoscopy, and some of her savings for Elizabeths fall semester at AppState.  Farmer Mary is hoping for a miracle and hopes to be able to pay off her sister so that the land won’t be sold and developed.  Farmer Mary cannot imagine having to try to re-home the 3 legged pig and other special animals who she had planned to have live out their entire life span safely and securely at Winterpast Farm.

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Farmer Mary spends an average of 12 hours a day outdoors caring for all of the animals and hosting visitors. She also hosts field trips, bonfires, camping and she takes her mobile petting zoo to home birthday celebrations, schools, camps, corporate events, live nativities and more. She has devoted her life to caring for her children and animals.  She is seeking help to pay off her sister and then plans to attempt the paperwork to become a nonprofit and to keep the farm land safe from any future development. Farmer Mary plans to develop her volunteer program, especially for special needs children and adults who thrive in the healing environment spending time outdoors with the animals, many of whom are “special needs” themselves.

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The land is located at 12936 Ghoston Road Wake Forest NC. I suggest that you enter the address on Google Earth which can show you the pasture and the beautiful pine forest. The last furrows the original farmer plowed are still visible in the far back forest with huge pine trees growing out of the furrows.

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Farmer Mary is hoping with patience and perseverance and prayer that the farm for special animals and children can be saved. She has installed a small chapel in the very front corner of the property where visitors and those driving by are invited to stop and pray. Please pray for the future of Winterpast Farm.

“For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”-Jeremiah 29:11

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Please help

If you love animals.

If you support adoption.

If you like farm animals.

If you want to preserve an old tobacco farm.

If you love mini pigs.

If you love goats.

If you love peacocks.

If you love rescue dogs.

If you love…

Please consider donating to help save Winterpast Farm Petting Zoo animal rescue.

Donor Gifts $25 or more: Your name will be inscribed on a Friends of the Farm plaque displayed prominently to all farm visitors.

$50 or more: All of the above plus Friends of the Farm limited edition clay ornament collectible handmade by Farmer Mary. Pickup only.

$100 or more: All of the above plus free  family farm visit for up to 10 people

$150 or more: All of the above plus invitation for you and your guest to private Friends of the Farm Goat Yoga session.

$250 or more:  All of the above plus invitation for you and your guest to private Friends of the Farm benefit featuring local artists and musicians.

$500 or more: All of the above plus name an animal!  Could be a baby goat, sheep, rabbit, chicken, peacock, or guinea pig.  Free farm visit for you and your guest to meet your namesake and take photos!

$1000 or more: All of the above plus free back pasture bonfire for you and your family.  Farmer Mary will provide the s'mores and your group can bring any food or drinks.

$10,000 or more: All of the above plus private one day farm experience for you and up to 50 of your friends and family. *These gifts are subject to the goal being met.

Thank you so much for supporting a small local farm family animal rescue.

Please SHARE with everyone you know! Together we can do this!

When you support this small business you are not only supporting a childhood dream to have animals, you are supporting Farmer Mary caring for and feeding all the discarded and “imperfect” animals for their lifetime and more to come. Farmer Mary took in 11 guinea pigs, five bunnies and a old chicken this week alone.

Donations (0)


  • Frank Henry 
    • 10 $ 
    • 7 hrs
  • Anne Burke 
    • 22 $ 
    • 5 d
  • Casey Vieira 
    • 5 $ 
    • 5 d
  • John Kerman 
    • 50 $ 
    • 6 d
  • Anonymous 
    • 250 $ 
    • 7 d

Fundraising team: Farmer Mary (4) 


Sheena Kilgore 
Organizer
Wake Forest, NC
Mary Droessler 
Beneficiary

Ben Armstrong 
Team member
Thomas Armstrong 
Team member
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