8.11.2011

The Goats and Sheep of Farm Sanctuary

When I sat down to try to write about some of the animals at Farm Sanctuary, I realized that posting about all of the animals at once would result in a novel. So I decided to just write one post per week so as not to overwhelm, well, ME. But also you. So, when all is said and done we'll have posts about goats, sheep, pigs, cows and fowl.

It was easy to recognize the goat barn

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Sweetest goats on earth
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Look at this little buddy!
I think this is Jack (his story is here)
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The goats were a little confusing for me -- first of all, some have giant horns. I was paranoid one of them would accidentally impale me. But they just loitered around, checking everyone out. So very curious - they wanted to know what was in your hand, what your camera was doing, what your bracelet was, if they could eat your hem. Please, please, can they eat your hem? And they liked to be scratched right behind their horns. It was like being in a room of really charming 5 year-old kids, but better. (Pun unintentional.)

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I was also confused because while I could figure out why other animals at Farm Sanctuary were there (they escaped either the milk, meat or wool industry), why were the goats there? Because of the goat dairy industry? Turns out yes. But not only that.


Buying cow dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt) usually supports the meat industry because the ladies need to stay pregnant/nursing to keep on makin’ milk to sell. So the babies don't get the milk. The babies typically go to the meat industry (i.e. veal, etc) -- and apparently that happens with goats too -- these two little goats here (Tobias and Buster!) were supposed to be sent to a plant to meet a very bad ending. (Homophone unintentional.)

Some goats were discarded by pet owners. Some goats escaped live markets. (My ‘hood has live markets.) And totally bizarre and weird -- some goats are deliberately kept at racetracks to keep the horses calm but don't really get adequate care (or, in Gloria's case, any care). That was a new one for me!

He is so tiny!
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Considering their original trajectory, these are some freakin' lucky goats. It’s weird to think that a number of these dudes could have been trucked to a live market/butcher in my neighborhood to be handed out to residents or restaurants.

The craziest moment I had at Farm Sanctuary.

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The shelter director was letting the sheep out to pasture so we could spend time with them. She pulled back the gate...and the sheep started to mill around...and all of a sudden dozens of sheep started spilling out of the barn, running up the hill to pasture. Never in a million years would I have thought that sheep take joy in racing up a hill. I thought they'd slowly meander out since they seemed so sweet and mellow.

So the happy dudes all run up the hill! Except this goat...

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...who stopped to try to climb the fence to eat from the nearby apple tree, with a little assistance from some humans. (Some of the more submissive goats who were being bullied in the goat barn lived with the sheep.)

Dusk in the sheep pasture.
It was surreal and beautiful.
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We were trying to figure out where to pet the sheep since some were soliciting pets and were told to pet them on their chests or backs, and to really get your fingers in their wool since even their short wool was so thick that they wouldn't feel it if you just pet their surface. (Strangely not everything likes to be pet where or how a cat would? That was a big learning curve for me.) So I burrowed my hand in my sheep's chest and actually felt his little body and gave him a good massage.

What sweethearts. And so lucky to be saved from being merely meat or wool. Go sheep!

9 comments:

  1. Oh, I love this line: "So I burrowed my hand in my sheep's chest and actually felt his little body and gave him a good massage." So sweet.

    I visited the Farm Sanctuary in Orland, CA sometime in the 90s (the 90s are a blur to everyone else too, right?) and it remains one of my favorite experiences ever. So life-affirming.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I love them! They are better than kids (pun intended!)

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  3. Nothing to do with farmin', but I just read this article on Etsy and thought that you might dig it if you hadn't seen it already: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2011/the-tyranny-of-trends/?ref=fp_blog_post

    woo!

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  4. This makes me so, so happy. I can't wait for the rest of the novel.

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  5. Methinks Jack the goat appears to be decidedly pregnant. We've kept pygmy goats as pets and they do a great job of keeping the grass mowed.

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  6. Thanks for this. Goats are my favourite after dogs. They're so cute and have wicked looking eyes!

    Also, I shall treasure these lessons in sheep petting and hope to put them to use someday.

    I'll be visiting a private donkey, llama, cow, mule, and alpacca sanctuary later this month. Perhaps I'll need to report in!

    Looking forward to more reports on the other animals.

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  7. ohhhhhhhhhhh billy goats!!! They're adorable all the time! It's so funny that wherever you go, no matter the place, all goats will inevitably try to eat your hem. Gotta love those lil' guys!
    (PS-for some reason I'm not allowed to leave comments under my blogger/google name. Do you have something against me..WTF lady!?! j/k)

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  8. Haha, it was better than being around a bunch of 5 year olds! Sooo charming and entertaining, and fun to nuzzle...my favorite thing was scratching their pot bellies.

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  9. my favorite thing was scratching their pot bellies.

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Hey there! Thanks for leaving a comment. Please don't apologize for writing a lot - I like long thoughtful comments so bring on the "wall o' text" if you wish and have no shame.

Short comments are, of course, also always welcome.