Hunterdon Homesteaders look for animals of all kinds
RINGOES — One of the highlights of the Hunterdon County 4-H Fair is the Hunterdon Homesteader tent.
Each year the county-wide 4-H Club has a theme. This year the theme was the jungle and the tent was full of large cutouts of exotic animals as well as with a petting zoo full of animals.
The Homesteaders don’t raise just one animal for the fair, leader Lauren Bivona of Kingwood said.
They do units on many different animals and run a fundraiser at the fair.
This year, the fifth for the club, they charged $5 each for puppy cuddles and brushing a calf.
Bivona explained she fostered a pregnant dog from Jersey Girl Rescue and is adopting one of the puppies. That pup and two siblings were in a little cage being picked up and hugged by visitors.
Others were brushing Elmer, a 7-day old Jersey calf who will move to Bivona’s farm as a forever pet.
She has a number of pets including two other young Jerseys and Dozer, a Hereford steer, for seven pet cows altogether. She bought one from a prison farm with the intention of putting the sick animal down. She ended up bringing the calf into her living room and nursing him back to health.
“Some people go to Aruba, I raise a cow,” she noted.
She found another cow on Craig’s List, she said.
Dozer is small for a Hereford but not a true dwarf, she said. His favorite food is cupcakes, chilled so the icing isn’t messy.
The most unusual of Bivona’s pets is Yakira the Yak. As a child, Bivona visited a zoo and fed the yaks. Ever since she wanted a pet yak. Not long ago she found one for said in Holland Township. Yaks are primarily known as a pack animal but are also used for fiber, meat and dairy. Since they are native to Tibet, New Jersey summer can be a little rough. Bivona turns Yakira out at night and keeps the large fan in the barn blowing directly on her.
She also has rescue sheep and goats. The Homesteaders take care of them and learn about their growth and development.
Bivona said she has a daughter with special needs and felt this type of club would be better for her than a traditional club.
The Bivona farm also raises pigs, chickens and geese as a business.
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