There are many stereotypes associated with farmyard animals that are simply false. Some stories have been handed down for centuries when one thinks of goats, pigs, and chickens. Although stereotypes usually begin with an element of truth, this truth is often misconstrued. Today, dear reader, I will debunk some of those stereotypes associated with the animals here on our farm. Let us begin with chickens.
1) Myth: The rooster crows at dawn. The rooster does indeed crow at dawn, but Romeo, our Napoleonic Icelandic rooster, also crows when the wind blows, the dogs are out, humans are about, the sun shines, it rains, it’s cloudy, the sunsets. You get the picture, the little bas&!@# crows constantly. Not only does he crow, but he growls. I never knew a chicken growled until Romeo. He doesn’t really growl per se; he makes more of a guttural noise deep in his throat that is kind of scary and a bit unnerving. I am not fond of this rooster, but he does an excellent job of keeping the hens safe, so he gets a pass.
2) Myth: Pigs are filthy animals. Actually, pigs are very clean animals. They are much cleaner than the goats and our God-forsaken pony. The pigs choose one spot to relieve themselves inside the barn. If the weather is accommodating, they take their business outside. However, in inclimate weather, they choose one area farthest from where they sleep and do their business in that spot. This habit makes cleaning the barn very easy. I think pigs have a reputation for being filthy because they wallow in the mud. Pigs do not sweat, and they have no way of cooling themselves, so they must wallow in water or mud to keep their body temperature down. It’s a practice of necessity, not a love of dirt.
3) Myth: Farm animals are dumb. On the contrary, our goats and pigs are very intelligent creatures. Studies show that pigs have the reasoning skills of a three-year-old child. Pigs learn the schedule of their farmer quickly, they can be taught commands, and they teach each other. Although large, scary, and intimidating, they are fascinating to watch from a distance. Our goats have good reasoning skills as well. They are masters at figuring how to get to where they want to go. They can undo the latches on the gates to the stall, deeming it necessary to keep clips on all the gates. My Sweet Baboo figured out the gates first and then taught Little Black and Mama Boo how to work the latches. We don’t dare leave the gate without a clip, or one of them will be in the milking parlor without permission.
4) Myth: Goats will eat anything. Goats are actually picky eaters. Like all creatures, they have their preferences of what is palatable. Also, tastes are different from goat to goat. Mama Boo loves tobacco, but Boo and the twins won’t touch it. Lilly loves EVERYTHING, especially sweet treats. Big Red is picky and won’t touch a treat of any kind. Dot is particularly fond of apples, and almost everyone enjoys animal crackers. We keep the goodies for the girls to a minimum because too many will disrupt their digestive tract.
5) Myth: Pit Bulls are ferocious, unpredictable killers. I have had the honor to have a Pit Bull in my life since I was twelve or so. All our pitties have been sweet, loyal, intelligent, and eager to please. Early settlers called the breed nanny dogs because they are so good with children. Like any breed of dog, they respond to their environment and treatment. These wonderful dogs are often mistreated and abused to get them to the point of aggression. When treated with love, kindness, and respect, they reciprocate. The breed is not the problem; like most issues in this world, people are the problem.
I hope, dear reader, this clears up any misconceptions you have about farm animals. In my opinion, all living creatures deserve love, care, and respect. Sadly, not everyone shares my beliefs. However, any creature on our farm has the best life available, and we take pride in that. I hope you can come out to the farm tomorrow from 9-1 to partake in our little event. You can visit our animals from outside the fence, fill your belly with good food, and support local artisans. The weather looks a bit sketchy with scattered showers, but hopefully, the rain will hold off until the afternoon. Until tomorrow, dear reader, stay safe, be smart, and keep washing your hands.