Idea for Pampered Pets Petting Farm just ‘snowballed’

Goats, sheep, cows, sows and more at home

Photo by Peyton Neely Maddox Antill, 7, holds on to one of the miniature ponies that are used with the Pampered Pets Petting Farm at the Antill Farm near Beverly.

BEVERLY — Owning a petting farm wasn’t the plan for the Antill family but before they realized, the Pampered Pets Petting Farm was booked for events throughout Washington County.

“It all started whenever someone asked me if I could bring a couple of the farm animals down to the Washington County Fair for a petting zoo,” said Melissa Antill, owner of the petting farm.

“It just kind of snowballed from there.”

Melissa, her husband Rusty, and their children, 7-year-old Maddox, 11-year-old Mason and 13-year-old Morgan, work every day to take care of the abundance of animals that make their home on their 20-acre farm in Morgan County.

There’s a lot to handle with 20 goats, eight sheep, five cows, three sows, four pot-belly pigs, two alpacas, three mini donkeys, three mini horses, nine rabbits and several cats and kittens. Melissa said not all the animals are used with the petting farm but the majority travel to events including birthday parties, fairs and school events.

Photo by Peyton Neely Mason Antill, 11, feeds goats at Pampered Pets Petting Farm.

“I’m thrilled that these events have continued,” said Melissa. “I really enjoy the happiness all these farm animals bring.”

Melissa said some of the animals found on her farm are rescues, including a new, slightly overweight pot-belly pig named Hammie.

“She’s definitely on a diet now,” said Melissa. “Some of these animals are given to me because their owners know they’re in good hands.”

The Antill Farm is located on what was once a pig farm.

There are three barns that hold all the animals and a lot of the stalls were already there from the old pig farm that Melissa said was heavily active in the late 1980s into the early 1990s.

“I’d really like to get everything fixed up to hold events here and maybe team up with nonprofit groups for more activity out here,” she said. “It’s a long work in progress but that’s the plan.” Each Antill child also has their own chores that must be completed to run the farm.

“I love the petting farm,” said Morgan. It’s like a new adventure every day.”

Morgan is in charge of the hog barn and 4-H animals, Mason tends to the calves and goats, then Maddox and his mom work with the petting zoo animals.

“It’s fun going to events because usually there are other activities going on, not just work,” said Mason. “But I also like the responsibility of it.”

Mason said he enjoys sharing the experience of animals with other people.

“We also get to hold baby animals like the baby bunnies we have now and the baby kittens,” said Maddox. “I really love the kittens.” Melissa said that no event is too big or too small for her crew. Prices vary per event depending on length of visit, location and type of event. Anyone interested in having a petting zoo at their next gathering can visit the Pampered Pets Petting Farm Facebook page or call 740-558-9932. Antill is also available through email at

“We will bring whatever animals they’d want or the whole gang,” said Melissa. “That’s what we are here for.”