Fear not, animal lovers, there are plenty of heartwarming and entertaining stories about the feathered and the furry in Laurie Zaleski’s memoir Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals. At the Funny Farm, an animal rescue and sanctuary in New Jersey, you’ll meet Debbie, a goose with an obsessional love for the UPS man; Emily, a runaway emu; Adele, a diaper-clad hen with a diva complex, and countless goats, sheep, dogs, cockatiels, pigs, cats and horses. But the real star of this show, er farm, however, isn’t an animal at all, but rather the author’s mother: a plucky, freckled dynamo named Annie McNulty.
In the early 1970s Annie was a stay-at-home mom with three children, a bouffant hairdo, a weekly allowance from her husband and no driver’s license. When her husband’s philandering came to light and the marriage became abusive, Annie packed up the kids, borrowed a car and high-tailed it to a shack at the edge of the piney woods. With ingenuity and a lot of hard work, Annie turned the ramshackle dump into a comfortable home. Soon it was not just her kids living in the shack, but animals, lots of animals, that the soft-hearted Annie rescued from the local animal control shelter where she worked cleaning cages. Thus the original Funny Farm was born.
A wonderful tribute to Laurie Zaleski’s mother, Funny Farm will appeal to not only animal lovers, but also to readers who enjoy stories of strong women doing their best for their kids.