Let me start by saying this goat is not injured. He is merely eating.
I don’t know what it is with me and wildlife and I am not referring to staying out to all hours, drinking and carousing. (Do people still “carouse?” or is that a throwback from my Mom?)
On a visit to New Jersey to see my girls and the grandchildren, my younger daughter decided it would be fun to take her two girls, ages three and one, to a “Petting Zoo.” Unbeknownst to her, I absolutely abhor getting close to any creature that may carry fleas, ticks, disease, has no qualms about pooping in public or has the potential for biting me or a loved one. (Actually, as I read that over, some of that could also refer to a few guys I dated in college. After all, it was the ’60′s.) Anyway, all of you who are grandparents know that we will do anything to see the little ones faces light up at some new experience, so off I went.
The “Petting Zoo” had this wonderful website with descriptions of intimate adventures with these gentle creatures, who were living in a bucolic setting off a country road in nearby Princeton, New Jersey. We packed a lunch for the little ones, expecting to spend a full morning amidst the happy animals and perhaps even bring home some fresh fruit from the farm stand that was also there.
It took us about 20 minutes to arrive at our destination, taking the highway and then exiting to follow a winding road through newly green expanses of farmland. It was really quite a pleasant drive. We found the orchard, and pulled into a big, largely empty parking lot facing a barn with a huge mural painted on its side of what could best be described as a scene from “Old McDonald’s Farm.” All that was missing was hearing a chorus of “E-I-E-I-O” wafting through the budding fruit trees.
There was no sign indicating where the “zoo” was so we called from the parking lot to make sure it was open and we were in the right place, all of which was confirmed. We were told to walk back behind the farm house to the “shop.” We piled out of the car, put the baby in the stroller and found the rural-looking “general store” and my daughter went in while I stayed outside with the little ones. The three-year-old was just bursting to get moving and was telling me how she would interact with the animals. A quick aside: every grandparent thinks their grandchildren are smart, but this, the seventh of my eight, is scary smart. She has outwitted me more than the any one of her cousins who are older than she is, including the two who are teen-agers. She presents incredibly good arguments on exactly why we should do what she wants. I fully expect that some day she will appear as an attorney before the Supreme Court and probably win her case.
Anyway, we went around back to see the animals.
“Animals” (the plural) is a gross exaggeration.
There were exactly six goats, a couple of wandering chickens and roosters, a bored horse and two Canadian geese. In fact, I think the geese just happened to fly in, saw an opportunity to grab free grub, and decided to stay.
My daughter and I burst out laughing. I started to think that the photos on their website were actually just taken from some clip art site. Nothing there looked like what we saw on the internet. Hardly seemed worth the price of gas to get there.
There were several gumball like machines which dispensed dry corn kernels for a dime per shot. Between the two of us, we had 40 cents. The toddlers, especially the three-year-old, were not in the least bit disappointed and set about trying to feed the…well, feed the goats, since they were the only ones who seemed interested. I swear the horse, in an adjacent field, looked at us, yawned and then went back into the shade. There was one goat who thought nothing of sticking his entire head through the fence and eating everything he could, even scoffing up the stray goldfish crackers that had fallen from the baby’s snack cup. That’s his picture at the top of this post and if you look closely you’ll see the stray fish on the ground. What they say about goats (and me) is true. They (we) will eat anything. After awhile, my older granddaughter starting pulling up hunks of grass and weeds and they sucked that in like vacuums as well.
Luckily, the smell was not too bad and no one had their fingers nipped and I had enough Purell to continuously clean my hands for most of the way home.
We ate the picnic lunch back at the house, along with some excellent strawberries purchased at the farm, which cost about the same as an ounce of gold. After that we ventured to yet another “farm” which boasted quite a sizeable number of really exotic animals, most of which were rescued from zoos. I have to admit that it really was rather neat to be able to get pretty up-close and personal with Giraffes, Hyenas (who were not even giggling, no less laughing) and a vast variety of monkeys living in a rural compound in the Garden State, not to mention that I had no fear of disease since none of the creatures there were truly “pettable.” Truth be told, even if they were, I was quite happy to just hold the bucket of food (which actually looked quite human-edible as it had popcorn, animal crackers and Fruit Loops in it, among other things) and leave the “intimate interaction with animals” to the kids.
Besides, I’d used up all the Purell on the way home from our morning expedition.