- Associated Press - Thursday, December 27, 2018

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (AP) - Occasionally nibbling at the itchy tag, a precocious 9-week-old goat named Packer pranced around in a red Santa costume that was probably meant for a dog.

The sports fan who chose Packer’s name - in honor of the Green Bay Packers - donated him to Winterpast Farm in Wake Forest to join the dozens of rescued animals living there with farm owner Mary Droessler. There are several sheep and goats, emus, pigs, a donkey, peacocks, dogs young and old, a variety of fowl, guinea pigs and rabbits.

Farmer Mary, as she calls herself, gave Packer the nickname Santa Goat. On Christmas morning, he followed her around while she fed and watered the animals. He also jumped up on tables, nibbled on Christmas-colored tissue paper sticking out of gift bags and jumped back down, eager to take treats from guests pulling up the gravel driveway.

Families poured out of their cars, smiling with Christmas-morning spirits, past hand-painted signs and to the gate where Droessler greeted them in the purple overalls Santa brought her that morning. They matched her purple and blue-dyed hair.

“I like to be open major holidays so people can air out their in-laws. I wish I’d had such a place,” Droessler, 57, joked about being open on Christmas Day for the 12th year.

She also cited college tuition bills as reasons for being open. As a single mother of four adult children. Droessler works hard at her small farm to make ends meet. The animals “earn their keep,” Droessler says, by helping her host birthday parties, bonfires and field trips. They also act in live nativity scenes and are rented out to families for trial runs and to photographers for photo shoots.

Droessler adopted two of her children from Russia in 2005, two years after she moved with her two biological sons to the farm from downtown Raleigh. She was recently divorced at the time.

One adopted daughter, Elizabeth Droessler, 22, is currently in a two-year Scholars With Diverse Abilities Program at Appalachian State University. Home on winter break, she was comfortable helping her mom on the farm: cleaning the crates used for live nativity scene transportation, handling rabbits and guinea pigs for guests and answering questions about Packer’s origins and costume.

After the last group of guests left, Droessler, along with Elizabeth, made sure all the animals were settled in and left for a quiet Christmas dinner at her son’s apartment in Raleigh. She said she was looking forward to making only one decision, “white or red.”

The evening was a short reprieve, and Droessler was back at Winterpast Farm and open for business at 10 a.m. Wednesday, the day after Christmas.


Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com

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