When you first step foot onto Independence farm you feel like you're living in a children's book.
You'll meet a lamb who spends his day snuggling with the bunnies, a blind hen who is kept company by her seeing eye duck, and a sheep named Ernie who thinks he's a dog.
These are just a few of the characters at the farm, but this wasn't always the plot line Crystal and Corey D'avinon saw for themselves. In fact, their story is far from a fairytale.
They ran and operated a dairy farm for 10 years, but like many other farmers, they couldn't make ends meet.
"We decided the price of milk is so up and down that I was going to open a petting farm to save the dairy cows," says Crystal.
They filled their barn with friendly animals and invited visitors to stop by. Corey admits, he was skeptical at first.
"People are not going to pay to come here because everybody grew up on a farm," he says, "but that's now true. Things have changed over the last 10-15 years."
But it wasn't enough to save the herd.
"For us those days are done. It took us two years to get over losing our dairy cows," Crystal says.
Since then, another one has moved in.
The milking barn quickly turned into a home for all walks of life.
Inside you find feathered friends -- baby chicks and a few turkeys.
Just around the corner -- a litter of piglets, and their mom who is still transitioning into life on the farm.
One stall over -- five pregnant pygmie goats.
Some animals belong to the D'Avignon's others are visiting from neighboring farms, like these two mini ponies and donkey.
Two twin goats, Mickey and Goofey, were born here this year -- and are the stars of the show.
"You need a variety of animals. You need baby animals. The more kids can pick up the better it is. You need to be here to tell them your story and about your life and to listen to them," they say.
It's a place for animal lovers of any age. Dusty the pig draws a lot of attention -- mostly for his size.
The only rule around here is you have to be friendly. They say every animal has its own personality, but not all are fit for the farm.
"You can't have anything around the kids that you have a question on," Crystal says. "We have our strict insurance policy and we do not want to see anyone get hurt. That would be terrible."
In a tough economy not everyone can afford to keep their critters. That's how they end up with things like chinchillas.
"I have a hard time saying no," Crystal says.
These guys keep them busy, but they still manage to hay their 100 acres of land, and sell their own syrup and canned goods. It's not the life they had planned for themselves, and every year is a challenge to keep their heads above water, but they admit it's hard to complain.
"Sometimes you do take life for granted. We sit back and we are like we got it made! We love what we do we love where we are we don't work in a cubicle and we don't punch a time clock," they say.
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:10 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:10:32 GMT
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Sunday, March 9 2014 10:03 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:03:58 GMT
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Sunday, March 9 2014 9:59 AM EDT2014-03-09 13:59:53 GMT
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