After 10 years of marriage, Mary Droessler – aka Farmer Mary – bought a 10-acre farm as a divorce present to herself.
Although Droessler never had a farm or even any other animals, excluding a cat and a dog, her dream was to own some land and get a pet cow. Out on a drive one day Droessler noticed a for sale sign near Falls Lake and knew it would be her new home.
“Whenever my son and I would go see the land, we would see bluebirds. I would say ‘look there is our bluebird of happiness waiting for us,’” said Droessler about the Wake Forest property.
In 2003, she purchased her “bluebird of happiness.”
She first bought a few goats, chickens and llamas. During that first year, she milked her goats to make cheese and sold eggs from her chickens.
After that first year, she would often get phone calls asking her about the farm. This led to Droessler’s brainstorm about starting a petting zoo.
“I diversified as people wanted to see a variety of animals,” she said.
Soon she added emu, sheep, donkeys, turkeys and peacocks to her farm – all of which were given to her for free.
Then she gave her “bluebird of happiness” the official name of Winterpast Farm Petting Zoo, a name she borrowed from the Bible’s Song of Solomon 2:11 – “For the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds has come.”
The song, she said, helped her through the toughest days of her divorce.
Today Winterpast has goats, sheep, emus, a mini donkey, ducklings, peacocks, a goose, pigs, bunnies, guinea pigs, chickens, hedgehogs, fish and turtles – many of her farm animals are donated rescues.
“I am scared to know exactly how many animals I have,” she laughed.
But Winterpast is not just a petting zoo. Droessler hosts mobile petting zoo events for birthday parties, family gatherings, field trips, promposals, bonfires, campouts, school visits and church visits.
Droessler is not alone taking care of her farm animals she has recruited her three sons and daughter – two of whom are adopted from Russia – to pitch in, most often willingly.
She also encourages volunteers of all ages, who can earn community service if they need them. Community service activities can include: cleaning cages, washing, brushing, and feeding the animals, preparing bunnies and guinea pigs for mobile visits, assisting visitors … well, the list goes on and on.
Winterpast welcomes donations and has a wish list on Amazon for individuals interested in supporting her Winterpast.
Book a visit appointment by sending a text message to 919.244.1800. Indicate a desired time and day you’d like to visit. Admission is $10 for all ages. Adopted and fostered children are allowed free admission. For more information, open dates, and hours go to Winterpast Farm on Facebook or www.winterpast.org. The farm also has an Instagram account: winterpast_farm.