Animals are fascinating. Being raised on a farm our kids were around all types of animals. We had chickens, ducks, cows, goats, horses, and pigs. I think our whole family loved the animals.
Sometimes animals meant chores. There was feeding time twice a day, cleaning water troughs, putting ointment on sores, and moving animals from one pen to another when needed.
The kids learned early the animals had to be fed everyday not just on good weather days. I remember many times on cold wet mornings layering on sweaters and jackets so the kids could go fulfill their duties.
Larry could have fed them in a fraction of the time but the kids learned what it meant to have someone, even an animal, depend on them for food, water, and life. Many times they’d come into the house, tracking mud behind them, with huge smiles on their faces telling me one animal or another said, “Thank you.” I think they really meant it too; the animals each had names and personalities. They became friends with the kids. The cow pictured here was “Velvet.” Her hide was as soft as velvet. When she had her calf Larry bought four more from a neighbor. She nursed all five. Of course she only had four udders so they would do a merry-go-round type of head-butting thing pushing one another off an udder to get a turn. It was hilarious.
Sometimes animals were great teachers answering a lot of questions for little ones before they needed to be asked. It became obvious to the kids baby cows came from mommy cows, baby chickens came from mommy chickens and so on. I don’t think any of our kids ever asked, “Where do babies come from?”
Most of all the animals were just a lot of fun to watch. We had lawn chairs out by the animal pens and corrals. We’d go out with the kids and just sit. We’d watch any time there were babies being born. The kids were able to hold little piggies when they were minutes old and still clean. They held newly hatched chicks up to their cheeks to feel the soft warm feathers. They were there when calves were born and “helped” them stand for the first time.
Sometimes we’d just sit and watch the kids play with the animals. One fun game they played was follow-the-leader. After petting goats or calves they would often follow the kids. It was really funny. Sometimes they’d follow a little too close or too fast and collisions would occur. The kids all learned a little manure on the butt of your jeans won’t kill you. It might soak through to your skin but it won’t kill you!