Saturday was one of those days. No, not one of THOSE days. One of those days that makes wet wool, sweaty pilgrim garb, not-for-profit pay scales, early mornings shoveling manure, late nights reading incomprehensible 17th century texts, freezing cold, blazing heat, and those excruciating pilgrim shoes- one of those days that makes it all worthwhile.
We had a boy coming in from hospice who also had some mobility issues. So, we brought many of our animals up to the fort area so he could meet them. This isn’t something we could do everyday, but we knew about the visit in advance, they had a special guided tour planned, and they were not coming at one of our busiest times.
So, our three lambs born in June were herded up to the fort. “Poppers,” last year’s newborn kid goat, was carried up by Shelley. And, I was able to take Damson and her new calf on his longest walk ever, so far, all the way up to the fort.
The young man and his family were able to meet them all which was quite delightful enough. His bravery and excitement were palpable, and it really was an honor to be part of brightening his day. But then it just got better.
Another visitor came in leading her blind son. His jaw dropped when I had him touch the cow, as he realized the enormity of the animal under his fingers. Then, Shelley handed him Poppers to hold; his fingers found her horns, and he beamed. Later, before we brought the animals back, a paraplegic woman from Ireland came into the fort area, and she was able to touch a cow for the first time as well. Not to mention the tour group of children from Holland and all of the other visitors coming through the fort that afternoon.
Our animal interpreters are here to delight and inform all of our visitors- young, old, city folk, farm families, everyone. But, I have to confess a special satisfaction whenever I get the chance to help folks who might have more difficulty interacting with a farm animal to get that amazing experience. It reminds me that our job here is really, dare I say it?, a labor of love.
-Jonny Larason, Agricultural Exhibits