I volunteer at a local farm animal rescue called, Maple Farm. It’s about an hour away from our place and is located in Mendon, Massachusetts. When I tell people what I do, half think I’m nuts and half are in awe.
Animals are the most compassionate, forgiving, non-judgmental and loving beings alive. Yes, they definitely have their good days and bad days but after a week of sitting in an office, nothing makes me happier than hanging out with a bunch of goats, pigs, feathered friends, sheep, cows and llamas. It’s therapy.
My homies are happy to see me and search me out for pats and snuggles. We chat about how their week went and what they did while I was away. A big topic is always the weather, especially now that we’re heading into the cooler temps – those with fur coats are no doubt greatly relieved. And I’m constantly having to tell them, “No, I don’t have any snacks for you….” Although they can still clearly smell the apples, berries and melons on my hands I just cut up in the prep room.
A Saturday routine consists of a variety of activities:
- Cutting up fruits & veggies for 11 goat trays & 2 pig buckets
- Sweeping out the main barn before the tour begins
- Giving out pats and snuggles
- Refreshing water buckets
- Cleaning out Boo-Boo, the young cow’s stall
- Rotating the veggie & fruit boxes in the walk in fridge
- Taking selfies with the goats
- Breaking down boxes
- A few more selfies and time out for pats and scratches behind the ears
- Scooping up the llama poop out in the field
- Talking with Gwen the turkey, who supervises the water bucket refills
- Cleaning out Pom-Pom, the duck’s area if there’s time
- More sweeping before the tour…don’t you guys know I just did this?
- Cleaning out the duck pools
- More snuggles and pats
Over time, simply from going to the farm, bonds develop with the animals and no matter how busy the day becomes, there is always time to take a break and sit with your extra special friends. On my very first day of volunteering (photo above) I met Gail, an elderly cow, who is kept in a barn down the way with her friend Emily… a goat.
I always make sure to stop in and check on my little buddies. (Little being a relative term, as Gail probably weighs in close to 1,000 pounds.) I check their water. Fluff their hay. Take out any “piles” that may need to be removed. It’s the least I can do for my friends. I want to make sure they know, while they aren’t in the main barn, they’re not forgotten. Every time I go, I spend time talking with each of them.
Emily, the goat, is very shy. However , on my last two visits she’s come up to sniff my hand all over. Today was no exception. Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. We’re definitely making progress. She is so curious. I just know she wants to be pat, she just doesn’t know how. We’ll get there. It may take us a year. Someday, we shall pat.
Today, Gail was laying down and chewing her cud. I sat down next to her, with my legs crossed. (Yes, I sat right down in the hay. Some people would be horrified at this – seriously. It’s not like I was sitting in a pile of poop, people. ) While I sat next to Gail we chatted about her week and how she had been since I saw her last. She had a little respiratory infection previously. All the while I was stroking her neck and cheek. Without warning, she turned her head and leaned her head right into my chest and put her head on my lap. Her big brown left eye looking up at me.
I just did 27 summersaults in my heart!
And that quick she picked her head up again.
I think I just got a cow hug!
I commented as calmly as possible to my better half Eric, who was on the other side of the barn door, “GAIL JUST PUT HER HEAD IN MY LAP!”
My chat continued with Gail and we talked about the weather and how it was cooling off and going to be a nice week ahead for her. Much better than the previous few weeks and I thought she would find fall a lot nicer. With that, she again leaned over and put her head back into my lap.
Holy guacamole! I just got another cow snuggle from Gail!
There are just some things in life that will send you over the moon. For some, it might be riding in an exotic sports car, or having a fancy piece of jewelry or big house. Maybe it’s finally owning a particular piece of artwork or learning to play the piano or getting reservations for a highly rated restaurant. Who knows, it could be wearing a pair of designer shoes, going to a concert or solving a challenging scientific equation.
For me….it was sharing a moment with a 1,000 pound sentient being and having her trust me enough to put her head in my lap. Not once, but twice.