I love goats. In fact, when I set out on this trip, I did not know what exactly I wanted to do, but I knew that at some point, I’d have to work with goats. Looking at my farm options for France, I only contacted goat farms–this is the land of goats and goat cheese!
Here in tiny Sepmes, France, I am helping to take care of 80 milking does, about 20 kids and two bucks. The kids are a hoot, always leaping around, climbing on things just to do a 360 flip off of them and challenging each other to flat-out races across the pasture. I can sit and watch them for an hour, they’re so entertaining.
With these warm-fuzzy feelings I have toward them, of course I’m happy to feed them in the morning and at night. They’re always outside (the goats here have free choice of being outside or inside) when I show up with their “cereal,” so I can get their meals situated before the chaos of all of them rushing into the barn begins. This was not the case on Sunday morning, however, and I ended up reliving a terrible memory from childhood.
About 20 years ago, my family visited a petting zoo where you pay $0.50 for a cup of food to take into the goat pen so you can have an up-close-and-personal encounter with the cuties. Except the goats who came to me were not the cute, fun kind. They were the hungry, pushy kind. I got climbed on and bit in the back–not exactly the petting-zoo experience you want your child to remember!
So when I saw the kids bounding toward the barn at the same time as I sleepily dragged myself toward their feed bin, I considered turning around and packing my rucksack to leave the farm. But, really, if I’m going to call myself a “farmer,” I can’t let a gang of 40-pound kids push me around. I gathered their feed, elbowed my way through the crowd into the barn, and was pounced on and abused for the two minutes it took for me to toss their food into the troughs and run away. There I was, an adult holding a feed bucket in a barn, just like I was a child holding a cup of feed in a petting zoo yard. The 12-year-old inside of me was terrified, but the adult me did just fine.
Take that, traumatic childhood memories.