Animal House: Epic Farm Sanctuary & EPIC Outreach

Animal House: Epic Farm Sanctuary & EPIC Outreach
Jessie Miller with a donkey rescue

Saving Animals, Teaching Kindness & Compassion

Jessie and her husband, “Farmer Jack” Miller of Epic Farm and EPIC Outreach, chose the correct name for their nonprofit organization. Their epic mission encompasses several projects that model and teach kindness and compassion for all living things. Their goal is to build stronger bonds between humans, animals, and nature by using their farm sanctuary for positive hands-on interaction and education.

Epic Farm offers in-person or virtual tours, and EPIC Outreach offers humane educational programs on or off-site or at events by pre-scheduled appointments through their website. Educational programs focus on topics about pets, farm, marine, and wild animals and offer content that can be specifically targeted for various ages and audiences.

The couple’s animal sanctuary and rescue operation is a safety net for farm and other animals who get a second chance to live, feel safe, and be loved. They firmly believe that all animals in crisis deserve to be saved, not just dogs and cats. They and their contacts coordinate with local, state, and national rescue organizations and law enforcement to save and transport animals to safety wherever they are, whenever they can.

They founded EPIC Outreach to create a ripple effect of compassionate change that they hope will spread far beyond the farm and the animals they save. Through their rescue stories, they hope to inspire others to take action to help others, including animals, using a variety of approaches.

Jessie Miller, therapy dogs and small animals like rabbits and Pumpkin the guinea pig, visits schools, clubs, and after-school programs. She teaches about compassion, how to be kind, serve others and help to create a more compassionate, caring world. That compassion starts with each adult and child and must include the animals and environment we all should protect, Miller said.

Miller became a self-published children’s book author because her animal rescue stories offered another way to “plant seeds of compassion” in young readers. The books encourage reading, build literacy skills and critical thinking. They have been successfully incorporated into many school curriculums. There is also a Farm Friend Pen Pal Program and an EPIC Book Club.

Each book features one of the farm’s rescue animals and tells its story with a positive message to create understanding, awareness, and change in a developmentally age-appropriate way. The books discuss animal adoption, rescue, species discrimination, and treating all animals kindly, even farm animals like pigs.

The books are often donated to students during classroom visits or directly to schools, and a free copy is available to teachers or animal shelters. Book sales to the public help fund the nonprofit’s animal care and rescue efforts. Interested readers may purchase books for a school, group, or their children and grandchildren by contacting Jessie at [email protected] or the website.

Donkeys & the pigs
Donkeys & the pigs

Jessie Miller has six residents right now at the farm who are urgently in need of adoption. Her sweet pet potbellied pigs have no idea why their owners abandoned them. They represent one of the worst, cruel scams in the pet industry. Miller is outraged at the deliberate deception of potbellied pig breeders who advertise “miniature, mini, micro, teacup, and pygmy-sized pigs” for sale. 

There are many breeds of pigs that may be “smaller” than adult commercial farm pigs in the U.S. that weigh from 300 – 900 pounds, but only a  few healthy normal adult pig breeds weigh less than approximately 70 pounds. According to the North American Pet Pig Association, healthy adult Vietnamese Potbellied Pigs average from 125-250 pounds.

Breeders often mislead buyers regarding the future adult size of these pigs. They show the tiniest, youngest piglets possible: those weaned too early, leading to illness or mortality; pigs that are small only because they are drastically underweight from stunted growth caused by starvation; or pigs with health problems from inbreeding. These sellers often give instructions to feed an abnormally restricted diet, deprived of necessary nutrients, in a hopeless attempt to keep the pet pig small as long as possible.

“Tiny pigs that will forever remain ‘small’…that is just another cruel lie to make money that is inflicted on the unsuspecting, trusting public by unscrupulous breeders who care nothing about the pigs they sell. They know that those adorable eight-week-old potbellied piglets will grow to eighty pounds fast and keep growing!” Miller said. “Then the person who lives in an apartment or a home is wondering what in the world am I going to do with this animal? But it gets so much worse. Adult potbellied pigs weigh from 80 – 200 or more pounds. They will never be the size of a tiny lap dog or even a medium-sized dog.”

Miller said the pet pig industry is poorly regulated, and anyone can breed and sell anything. So breeders collect their money and vanish, ignore phone calls, or blame buyers and tell them they fed the pig too much. What happens to these unwanted pet pigs?

“These poor pigs that had loving, happy homes with families, where they were treated like domestic dogs and cats and enjoyed wonderful lives are suddenly a huge problem. As their weight balloons, owners contact shelters that will not accept them because they do not have the space. Most rescue groups already have too many pigs because of the growing problem and difficulty securing adoptions. The pigs end up abandoned or picked up by law enforcement,” Miller said. “The horrible reality is that these innocent pet pigs that are not adopted or accepted by an animal shelter like ours are euthanized or thrown into a truck and shipped to slaughterhouses.”

Epic Farm’s six adoptable pigs include bonded buddies Blake and Blarney,3, both 120-pound, neutered males. They are pink with black patches, are sweet, friendly, and love belly rubs. Lucy, a spayed female, and Stanlee, a neutered male, also three years old and 120 pounds. These best friends do everything together. Portia, 4, is mostly black. She is spayed, weighs 200 pounds, is gentle, sweet, and rolls over for belly rubs. Portia was abandoned at a hotel and got a police car ride from JSO. Twinkle, 2, is spayed and 140 pounds. She is mixed salt and pepper gray, intelligent and loving. Miller said this affectionate cutie desperately wants a family to love.

Pet pigs can be house and crate-trained for indoor or outdoor living, are smart, easier to train than dogs, and can learn basic commands. They are affectionate, clean, and make excellent pets if owners can accommodate their size and space requirements.

Portia enjoys a photo session during the Resident News visit
Portia enjoys a photo session during the Resident News visit

Anyone interested in adopting a pet pig should check their local zoning codes to ensure that a pig is permitted. Then contact Epic Farm for an appointment to meet their adoptable pigs or adopt through another reputable animal rescue organization like

Miller said that the blazing pace of local development has had an unforeseen impact on farm animal rescue. Donkeys are being abandoned by cattle ranchers and farmers. Donkeys have been favored as livestock guardians because they eat the same food, are territorial, and fiercely protect livestock against predators, including snakes. They fight with their teeth and hooves, chasing, kicking, and stomping anything threatening their herd while braying an alarm. After valuable farm or pasture land is sold for development and there is no livestock to protect, the donkeys have no value.

“ACPS called us about five donkeys abandoned on a large property where housing construction was starting. When the bulldozers showed up, there were the poor donkeys,” Miller said. “The donkeys were so fearful it took another week and the help of a second rescue – Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue from Virginia –  to come down and help us before we were finally able to secure them. They were accepted by the Virginia rescue because we already have as many donkeys as we can handle.”

Epic Farms 2022 fundraiser, the 3rd Annual Farm Fun Fall-O-Ween, will be held October 29, 2022, from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The cost is $48 per car with 25 tickets maximum per car. There will be farm tours, opportunities to meet the animals, food trucks, face painting, games, arts and crafts, plus family activities. Purchase prepaid tickets on their website and see their Wish List of needed items plus ways to donate, volunteer, or become an animal sponsor. Miller said that there are approximately forty rescue animals on the farm at a daily cost of $7.00 per animal for food and veterinarian care. They welcome regular monthly donors and any donations to help cover animal care and fund their efforts.

By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

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