We had the good fortune of connecting with Gina Mackovic and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Gina, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My husband and I were cooped up in the house during the beginning of the pandemic with three small children. We started to realize how much we rely on grocery stores, Amazon, etc to get everything we need. We decided we wanted to get back to our roots! But how? I had only seen most farm animals in a book. I wasn’t much of a gardener. Luckily my husband had grown up on a farm and was a bit more savvy than me about how it was going to get done. We started looking for the perfect property. Once we found our farm in Erie, we realized we had so many exciting ideas. This was going to be more of a project than we had originally thought. It always is right?! Just like myself, our kids, and all of the families we knew, we hadn’t experienced “farm life” and there began our dream of a petting zoo and interactive farm. We built an 8,400 sq ft barn and brought the sweetest animals from around the US that we could find. These animals are very special, unique breeds, with calm dispositions (well, except for the rowdy goats ). We set out to create a fun, interactive, and educational experience for children and adults alike. Our farm allows visitors to interact with our animals, learn about environmentally sustainable practices, and we are now implementing an animal therapy program.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Lil’ Buckaroo’s Petting Zoo is a place that people can go and spend time with animals on the farm. We are most proud of the animals we have and the environment that we have created. We pride ourselves on working with and training our animals consistently, so that in-turn our guests can connect with them on a deeper level. Watching visitors laugh and heal when visiting with our animals is our joy. We have a care team to watch over their diet and health, as well as care for and clean our brand new barn. We are handicap accessible and open year round to provide a wonderful place for the community to visit and become educated on our animals and sustainable farming practices.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well of course I would take my friend to Lil’ Buckaroo’s Farm!! Then out to lunch at Piripi, a restaurant in Erie just minutes away from our farm. We would walk around the cute town of Old Town Erie and then head to Linger in Denver for dinner. The next few days we would explore the city of Golden and Boulder hiking and shopping. Eat at Acerage at Stem Cider in Lafayette, pickleball a little, and maybe stop by Wash Park in Denver for a lazy park day.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We would love to thank so many people along our journey. The Biggest Little Farm film was one of the first documentaries that we watched. It’s inspiring and filled with so many environmentally sustainable gems that we will continually implement in the future! Dorie Gruetzmacher from Sunny G Acres, a mini donkey breeder out in Iowa, has been so informative and helpful in our pursuit of animal care. She was also our first support of gentle animal training and the animal/human connection. This is where our first animal on the farm came from, Lil’ Buckaroo. Lil’ Buckaroo is one of the smallest donkeys in the world, he stole our hearts, and thus our farm namesake Lil’ Buckaroo’s Petting Zoo was born. Faye and Jeff Farley from Majestic Meadows Alpacas and Boutique. We reached out to them in hopes of finding friendly animals to add to our farm, mini pigs and alpacas. Not only did we find the sweetest additions to the farm, but we gained so much knowledge on how to run a petting zoo and everything in between. We consider them the greatest of mentors. Their farm is unlike any other, a very special experience in their community, and thus they have been such a wonderful dream to live up to and work with. Last but not least, Sarah Maki Smith with Valais Blacknose Sheep of Washington State. She provided us with our sweet Valais Blacknose sheep. This breed is new to the US, all the way from Switzerland. She has been a huge support to us and the VBN community. We can’t thank these wonderful people enough for all of the time they spent helping us with our dream!

Website: Buckaroospettingzoo.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lilbuckaroosfarm/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/lil-buckaroo-s-petting-zoo?trk=public_profile_topcard-current-company

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lilbuckaroospettingzoo/

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/lil-buckaroos-petting-zoo-erie

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