“ This story of grit and resilience is 100 percent inspiring.”
“Heartwarming...Zaleski masterfully illustrates how one person can rise above difficult circumstances to do substantial good. Lovers of the furry and feathery will revel in this feel-good story.”
My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals
At The Funny Farm, one of the largest animal rescues in the Northeast, many different animals all live together and roam freely, and the odd and unlikely friendships that develop reveal lessons of kindness and cooperation. Laurie Zaleski shares the inspiring story of how it all started in FUNNY FARM: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals (Feb. 22, St. Martin’s Press; $27.99).
At twenty-five, with just the clothes on her back and three small children in tow, Laurie’s mother Annie fled an abusive marriage, going from upper middle-class comfort to a one-bedroom shack in the woods. She scraped by with menial jobs, including cleaning cages at the local animal control, and soon began saving the homeless animals, bringing them to (and sometimes inside) the family’s home.
Zaleski recounts a hardscrabble childhood, but also a rollicking, offbeat, boisterous life, loaded with more fun and adventures than anyone she knew, including chasing a runaway stallion down a four-lane highway in a car, and taking a cow to school for show-and-tell. When the car broke down, Laurie’s mom even used a horse to run errands or go to her job, “parking” her in the parking lot, with a feedbag and a couple of apples.
Laurie swore as a child that she’d one day buy her mom a farm of her own, so she could retire and do nothing but save animals. Years later, as a successful businesswoman, she did just that, buying a 15-acre farmstead deep in the New Jersey woods
Funny Farm facts:
· Residents include pigs, goats, horses, dogs, cats, chickens, an emu and a skunk.
· Most animals roam free and interact with other species, resulting in many odd and unlikely friendships
· Laurie’s Kindness Program offers anti-bullying and special needs programs in schools, where her friendly animals show how different species interact and can get along.
· Over 100,000 visitors are welcomed each year, free of charge.
· Voted one of the Top 10 places to visit in New Jersey and Best Charitable Organization
A rescue story on many levels, FUNNY FARM is a daughter’s story of promises kept, dreams fulfilled, and animals lost and found. And it's the story of the brave, incredible, and adorable animals who found a home at the Funny Farm, and who inspire thousands of visitors each year.
LAURIE ZALESKI is the founder of the Funny Farm, a charitable organization located in Mizpah, New Jersey. Since 2000, the farm has welcomed all kinds of rescue animals. Laurie is also the founder, president and CEO of Art-Z Graphics. She has been named a New Jersey Heartland Hero, is listed in the 2019 Who’s Who of Professional Women, and has received numerous awards and acknowledgements for her work to save animals and educate the public about animal abuse.
Ellie Laks-Weiner, author of My Gentle Barn, said “I found myself up till much later at night than was good for me, just to read one more chapter. I laughed, I cried, I related in a very deep way, and most of all, I fell in love with Laurie, her mom, and her whole family, both human and non. Funny Farm was moving, inspiring, honest, and refreshingly real. I loved every page!”
Ellen Stimson, author of Mud Season and Good Grief, called the book "the satisfying tumultuous story of one mama who understood that a messy life crowded with love and animals is plenty good enough. Laurie Zaleski writes in vivid unsentimental language, equal parts passion and grit."