This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

STOKES COUNTY, N.C. — Kelly Gray Merritt loves spending time with her animals, from her chickens to her goat Flash that can shake your hand.

“I look at them like little joy factories,” she said. “Every single one of them is just a joy delivery mechanism and there is just no way to be unhappy when you have animals.”

Her menagerie is quite the contrast to the glamorous way she earns her living as a national and international travel and food writer.

Her 1800s tobacco barn, converted into a cabin, serves as home base of all her passions.

“The cabin is important to this mission because if I didn’t have a residence here, I wouldn’t be able to adopt these beautiful animals and take care of them,” said Merritt, who rescues and fosters all sorts of animals from horses to dogs. “They’ve just stolen my heart.”

But none more than her constant feathered companion Gabrielle.

“She’s just a highly intelligent chicken,” she said. “She’s always the first one to come over.

But more than anything, Gabrielle likes to leave her coup for the sedan.

“You want to go riding with momma,” Merritt asked as she picked up Gabrielle to get in the car. “Every day she just can’t wait to go for her car ride, she loves looking out the window and seeing what’s going on.”

This is one chicken that won’t ever have to worry about crossing the road, she’s riding on it.

“It really is an honor to take care of them, it does something for your heart and makes you a better person. They just bring so much joy.”