Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Stolen Moments

One of my favorite parts of any day are the quiet moments of visiting with our animals. Every pen has a different personality to it.

The chickens, ducks, and geese are raucous with their greetings. They act as if they haven't seen me in weeks and have missed me so... until whatever treat I bring them has been eaten. Then, they settle down to a dull hum of clucks, honks, and quacks as they melt away to scratch the ground for potential worms and bugs, splash in the swimming pool, or investigate the possibility of romantic interests. As I have none of those attractants going for me, I can spend time watching them play with each other. From time to time, a pullet will wander by to jump onto my lap or shoulder, which is useful as a perch. A few favorite hens will allow themselves to be petted for a while.

On the other hand, we have the piggies. They immediately come to see what is edible in their dish and gobble it up. They grunt and snort. They allow scratches until bored with the attention, they return to their mound of hay and settle for a snooze. Some pigs become very attached to their caretakers and I suspect these were quite smitten with my sister, Kelli. Alas! I am not a fair substitute in their eyes. And, to be completely honest, I am quite okay with that arrangement. I enjoy scratching Patches, but I am not as at ease with them as I am with the other critters.

Then, there are the goats. I just love them. Really, really. They are all as voracious as the others about wanting their share of treats and they know I always come bearing some gift- even if it is only a flake of hay to share- the same flavor and variety as what is in their feed station. They don't care. They act like I have slaved all day, preparing them the finest feast imaginable. They nudge me with their heads, stand on their hind ends with their muddy front hooves on me (something I never allow the dogs to get away with) and stare at me over mouth-fulls of hay with their alien eyes. They are silly and soft. They rub against me and nuzzle my neck.

Ellie has yet to return to her former self and stands dignified and quiet, eating her treats and getting her petting. Pepper is bossy. She has horns and she will use them to get the best of the hay, regardless of who may be there already. Leah and Rachel, always together, work as a team to defend their hay. Abigail shoots in and out of the other goats, grabbing mouth-fulls and darting out of the press to chew hers. She is only slightly smaller than Leah & Rachel now and will butt heads with them if it comes to that. How would Rudy and Sapphira react to eating treats from my hand amidst a throng of busy goats? Would they want to come near or would they be afraid?

Sean took footage of yesterday's afternoon visit. It was not time for grain, but I wanted to invite all the goats to gather around while I pet them, so I grabbed a flake of hay and sat near the doorway. I make it a point to hand feed grain and treats to any new animal until they settle in. This underscores my role as caregiver, treat bringer, and all around "good" person. In a very short time, I find I can win over the affection (or at least tolerance) of most animals this way. To help them learn their name, I repeat it to them when I feed them, brush them, or pet them. I greet them and call them by name when I want them to come to me. I also make sure to handle each animal gently. I never push, hit, or play rough with them. I want them to recognize me and come to me.

It is definitely messy and a bit of a mad house keeping everyone from shoving or pushing their way around. I must have had my pink boots stepped on at least a dozen times. The girls were not satisfied that I had given them all the food I had with me until they put their hoofs onto my empty lap to investigate further, just in case I should be holding out on them. Once satisfied, they wandered off to graze the greens in their field and the hay still sitting at the feeding station or to get a drink from their water bucket. I called them to me individually as they walked past to rub their head or neck.

I only had a spare 45 minutes to sit and visit yesterday before I had to get washed and dressed for our Ministry School meeting. Kristen and Meaghan had both been assigned talks, so we needed to be sure to arrive early for one last practice each.

Stolen moments to be sure... and I loved every one of them.

Have a great day, friends. Thanks for stopping by.
Sonja ♥


  1. Awww, so sweet! I also love my stolen moments with my animals. It's definitely my favorite part of the day.

  2. Great video! The girls have settled right in.