Once upon a time in the faraway land of Milton, there lived a wonderful family who began an animal rescue sanctuary. One day a big, bad storm hit a nearby land and two Miniature Donkeys named Bonnie and Clyde were stranded on a small spit of land that was surrounded by water. The donkeys were saved by a good Samaritan, but he could not keep them for long. When the wonderful family in Milton heard about the two donkeys, they told the good Samaritan the donkeys could live at their sanctuary for ever and ever. But low and behold, the wonderful family soon found out that Bonnie was going to have a baby and that very Christmas Eve a baby donkey was born into the world. The children were ecstatic and named her “Holly”. Holly slept on the floor of the children’s room, and they all lived happily ever after. The End
This is NOT a fable but a true story about the Bob Pollock family and their Millstone Farm, part of their Buttermilk Falls Inn + Spa in Milton, NY.
Bob Pollock grew up in New York City and as a young boy belonged to the Brooklyn Botanic Children’s Garden where he learned to love gardening. As an adult his dream of having his own garden was finally realized when he purchased a country home on the Hudson River. “I wanted to control what I was eating, so I started conceiving a victory garden,” recalls Pollock. He bought more land on which there was a 17th century structure he turned into a bed-and-breakfast, the genesis of Buttermilk Falls Inn + Spa. And he bought more land for what would become the organic Millstone Farm and started an orchard with apples, pears, apricots and kiwis. Pollock then became interested in beekeeping and started raising bees and today has three active colonies.
Before long, Pollock began rescuing farm animals, often with the aid of the nearby nonprofit Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. “It’s not just about adopting animals,” says Pollock. “There’s a lot of responsibility. They require veterinary care, ample food and a suitable place to live.”
For Bonnie and Clyde, Pollock built the Donkey House with heat and electricity. “Who doesn’t love donkeys? They’re stubborn, smart and freethinking,” he adds.
Millstone Farm is also home to pedigreed female alpacas formerly owned by Lloyd Nordstrom McMillan, granddaughter of department story magnate John W. Nordstrom, in Washington State. Hard financial times forced McMillan to put the animals up for auction. The organization, Llama Reserve spearheaded a national campaign, raising funds to rescue the animals. Pollock stepped in to adopt the group, furthering the Farm’s – and indeed the whole of what is now Buttermilk Falls Inn + Spa’s total of 75 acres, including the 40-acre farm, as a certified animal rescue sanctuary.
The property is even a welcoming destination for visiting rescue animals. NJ native Theo was just a puppy when he was found nearly beaten to death. Now a healthy two-year old, Jo Varnish the woman who nursed and nurtured him to that happy state, brought him to Buttermilk for a vacation. Theo loved running around the grounds, splashing in the ponds, communing with the donkeys and llamas and chasing the waterfowl. “Theo loved to be off-leash and be able to run on such magnificent grounds,” said Varnish.
The Buttermilk / Millstone property is currently the forever home of 16 alpacas and llamas, three donkeys, four peacocks, three roosters and various ducks, geese, sheep, angora goats, and swans. Most of the animals have names with monikers for the llamas like Chocolate Chip, Duke and Oreo. Pollock will take any animal if he has available resources assure its health and appropriate space. They do not like to say no! Aa documentary, For The Birds, was shown at the Woodstock Film Festival in 2018 featured an abused duck that was adopted by Pollock and now resides by the property’s Swan Pond.
Millstone Farm’s honeybees were not rescued, but represent the global movement to foster the dwindling bee population. Worldwide bees pollinate more than 80 percent of all plants, which means they are critically important to life as we know it. Millstone Farm works with local beekeepers to keep theirs healthy and strong.
Bee Colony Collapse has plagued many hives in the area. Millstone Farm offers awareness and education that will provide bees a future free of this enigmatic disease. Honey made by the bees is used by the inn’s restaurant, Henry;s at the Spa and in “soil-to-spa” treatments at the Buttermilk Spa; it is also sold at the inn’s gift shop. Buttermilk also offers spun wools of from its rescue alpacas, llamas and sheep and promotes retreats for the fiber and knitting communities.
Pollack is currently planning expansions to the aviary and the donkey area, and he’s looking forward to getting youth groups involved with gardening and taking care of the animals.
As in any good fable, there’s a strong moral to this story. “At Buttermilk nature, agriculture and hospitality have all melded together beautifully,” said C.J. Kelly, general manager.
Buttermilk Falls Inn + Spa and the Millstone Farm
220 North Rd, Milton, NY 12547