Meet Our Country Woman of 2016!

Big-hearted farmer AnnMarie Roberts rescues abused, neglected and unwanted animals on her ranch in Florida.

AnnMarie is also a winner to Shetland pony Buttons, who can’t wait for breakfast.

AnnMarie grooms Highland bull Fozzy

Moving dirt and compost.

Keith nominated his wife for saving hundreds of animals like Cookie the pig.

Find AnnMarie at SugarloafMountainRescue.org.

AnnMarie cuddles Vinny the Guinea.

AnnMarie is also a winner to Shetland pony Buttons, who can’t wait for breakfast.AnnMarie grooms Highland bull FozzyMoving dirt
and compost.Keith nominated his wife for saving hundreds of animals like Cookie the pig.Find AnnMarie at SugarloafMountainRescue.org.AnnMarie cuddles Vinny the Guinea.

Last October, we challenged readers to nominate an amazing country woman who deserves a spotlight, and you introduced us to dozens of farm stars who do it all—milking the cows, herding the kids, even managing the local CSA. Of all the inspiring nominees, one Florida animal lover stood out, thanks to a heartfelt essay from her husband, Keith, that put her tireless passion into words. Read his story and meet our 2016 Country Woman of the Year, AnnMarie Roberts.

AnnMarie knew she’d found her purpose in life—to rescue abused, neglected and unwanted farm animals. Now, we needed a place where she could do that. We bought a 5-acre property on Sugarloaf Mountain in Clermont, Florida, and started a farm.

That’s when she became a true country woman, facing challenges with grace and limitless energy. Not long after we moved, the big recession hit. Then flooding in central Florida caused many to lose their homes. Requests for us to take in more animals were overwhelming, but AnnMarie didn’t flinch for a moment. She fought to find homes for every one. If she couldn’t find a new home, that critter came to live with us.

Currently, we have about 300 animals. Some of them are blind, deaf, disabled, survivors of severe abuse or simply unwanted. But here, AnnMarie gives them a safe place to rest their heads and a loving forever home. She is the sole caretaker for this entire farm. From sunrise to sunset, and often long into the night, she cleans, feeds and cares for every single animal. For that, they absolutely adore her.

Neighbors love AnnMarie and appreciate that if they call with an emergency, she’ll gladly offer assistance. AnnMarie has taken her experience of delivering babies to other farms, sometimes saving a newborn by getting its breath started. She has built quite the reputation as a knowledgeable animal caregiver.

Last year she decided she wanted to do more, so she had our farm certified as a nonprofit animal rescue. This will allow her to add more pens and housing, plus a medical facility for providing even better treatment to critical-care animals. She would love to educate people about the huge responsibility involved in owning a pet and encourage them to thoroughly research and plan before making a decision to buy or adopt.

My wife has been described as a ball of energy. A few times, she’s gone so fast, she’s found herself in a tricky situation—like the time she trapped herself in the chicken pen. As she was racing by, she noticed that it needed to be cleaned, so she went inside to do just that. She also shut the door to keep the chicks from getting out. Only then did she realize that when I built the coop, I designed the door in a way that locked her in. Luckily, I soon found her—she was sitting in the middle of the coop with 10 chicks nestled in her lap.

AnnMarie has the biggest, kindest heart. Her dedication to her work and passion for her family and animals has no bounds. Plus, she always makes sure I have plenty of homemade sweet tea. Now that’s a country woman! I feel if anyone deserves to be a country hero, it’s my wife. But even if she doesn’t win this contest, AnnMarie will always be my country woman, my love and my hero.”

-Keith Roberts of Clermont, Florida

Find AnnMarie at SugarloafMountainRescue.org.

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