Old Fogey Farm resident Jonesy, at first glance, might not appear to need extra care. His goat chin blows in the breeze. His ears are almost perfectly horizontal. When you see his wheelchair, you realize that he needs some extra love. Christine Ross is there to give it to him.
Christine is the chairman and founder of Old Fogey Farm, a five-acre vegan farm in EHT. She rescues animals who otherwise would be put down or animals who come from hoarding cases. The animals all have names that would be common in a retirement facility. Hence the name – Old Fogey Farm.
In her repertoire are goats, a mini donkey who thinks he’s a goat, a steer who just celebrated his second birthday, sheep, a dog, a cat, and a bunch of rescue squirrels and chipmunks. The squirrels are released once they are healthy but usually live in the trees to be fed.
I take in squirrels and chipmunks between bottle feeding and solid foods. I acclimate them to my older orphans and then I release them into my trees. They are wild squirrels but they still get fed,” Christine said.
Otis, the steer, had trouble walking. Christine, formerly a physical therapist, helped him to be able to walk.
“He was born on a dairy farm and he was male and he would have been killed anyway. We rescued him and got him walking and healthy,” said Christine.
Jonesy and Sadie, both goats, sleep in the house with her at night. Jonesy was attacked by a dog and became paralyzed, losing both of his back legs as a result. Hence the wheels that help him to get around. He has a catheter that needs to be emptied every two hours. Sadie has to go out every three hours. Born with neurological issues, she has trouble getting around.
“Sadie has to sleep inside because of her neurological disorder. She can’t lay down and stand up on her own. She sleeps in a trundle bed right beside my bed. Jonesy sleeps in a crib. We have a goat nursery set up for them,” said Christine.
As Christine discussed her animal occupants, I had one question as she described a mini donkey living with a few goats. Does he think he’s a goat too?
Yes, he does.
“He head butts like a goat, not knowing that he doesn’t have any horns. He came here as a baby and the goats took him under his wing. His girlfriend is a goat,” said Christine.
Christine started the farm as a tool to regain her purpose. She’s been debilitated with migraines, cluster headaches, and seizures for years. She can’t drive. These animals are her focus.
“I got started because in 2011, I got sick and had to quit my job. I have cluster headaches and chronic migraines. I have seizures and can’t drive. I was getting a little funky and felt like I didn’t really have any use. I just wasn’t contributing to society. My husband was like ‘Why don’t we get you some goats as pet therapy?’ I always loved animals and was already rescuing them. It was a natural progression for me,” said Christine. “Animals certainly aren’t much different than us. I was super involved in my own treatment and I was always super interested in natural medicine.”
Christine does it all – she takes care of their teeth too.
“Our goal in spring of next year is to build a rehab farm. It would be hard to accommodate more special needs animals because they require special bathing. We’d need more funding. We usually have a big fundraiser in the summer but it was canceled,” said Christine.
Old Fogey Farms depends on donations.
“There’s so many animals in need. You have to limit yourself to the funds available. We depend on donations.”
Christine primarily takes care of the animals on her own.
“It’s a small operation but it’s constant. There’s a lot of need. I’m a one-man operation. My husband is a big help but he works full time. I had volunteers up until COVID.”
She used to do farm tours, which allowed visitors to gain an understanding of her farm.
“We used to do farm tours all the time. Now, we aren’t really doing farm tours. We’re going to do a big open farm day every season, four a year.”
Another big reason why Christine relies on donations?
“I used to go to the vet every six months and every year. I don’t always do that anymore. I take their temperatures and check their gums. If everything is okay, I don’t have them go yearly,” said Christine.
When they do have to go to the vet, she takes them to Penn.
“Our doctors at Penn are the best in the country,” said Christine.
She’s glad her health took a turn. Without that happening, she wouldn’t have the farm.
“It led me to this life that is such a blessing. It’s my passion,” said Christine. “No matter what kind of pain, I hear my donkey braying in the back and my steer mooing in the front, this place is miraculous. I am so fortunate that my headaches started because it wouldn’t have led me to this.”
Photo by Allie McEntee.