Why we stopped going to the petting zoo.
Being that my husband Tony was at work and I was at home with [at that point] two boys, ages 3 and 4, we needed to get out and do something. I called up Nana, the boy’s great-grandma, to see if she wanted to go with us. As is often true Nana was stir-crazy and game to do anything. It was a wonderful warm sunny summer day, the kind that is perfect for being outside. I decided to ask if they wanted to go see the animals at the local petting zoo. Nana a farm girl through and through enjoyed the petting zoo as well so away we went.
We had been to this particular petting zoo a couple of times and the boys always enjoyed feeding the donkey carrots and tossing ice cream cones of seed to the ducks and chickens. Nana loved the lazy old sow and my favorite had always been the goats.
This petting zoo is not huge but has a lot of varied animals. Kittens from the animal shelter, a cow, a couple llama, a pony, as well as the fore mentioned animals. When we arrive my boys were so excited they ran ahead of us and nearly trod on some chicks that had escaped through the chain-link fencing of the poultry area.
We had a routine that we went through each time. First and foremost we had to buy the bird seed cones and go to the poultry enclosure. The closure was of a decent size with a shallow cement pond in the center, a roosting house off to one side and a chain-link fence around it with a latching gate to enter and exit. After they had good hold of their bird feed I opened the gate and all of us went in. Being well accustomed to people and the ways of the zoo the birds all recognized what the little boys had in their grasp. The chickens, ducks and that friendly old turkey with a bad foot came upon them like a clucking quacking beady-eyed feathered flood.
Ian my three year old took it all in stride, never the least bit unsettled by the fowl around him. Then there was my poor four year old Malcolm. He started out with a beaming smile until he realized the birds were really insistent on getting the food. One particularly determined white duck hopped up and took a piece of the cone he was holding.
He, in an instant freaked out and in one spastic motion flipped the remained of the cone and seed straight up into the air. This boy was heavily surrounded by birds and now he was being pelted with the seed falling from above. The raining bird seed drew the attention of the flock that Ian was feeding and now they too swarmed near Malcolm. He was definitely off put by it but I figured probably not scarred for life.
When I opened the gate to leave the area Malcolm had one thing to say,
“I think they were really hungry…too…hungry”.
I did my best to brush the seed out of the boy’s hair and we went on to the step of our outing. The larger livestock was to the side of the poultry area. With their carrots the boys eagerly headed to the miniature horse and mule with Nana in tow. That visit was short lived because Ian saw some of the other children walking around holding cute little kittens and we just HAD TO go see them right away.
While the boys pet the kittens Nana walked over to see the sow. She was away only a moment when the boys hurriedly handed me the two fluff balls they were holding to chase after her. After I got the kittens back where they belonged the other three were already moving on to the next thing, the llamas. They were apparently not very interesting and we ambled on to the goat enclosure.
The goats had a nice sized area with things to climb on and it was fenced in with chain-link. Getting into this area was a bit like passing through a lock and dam system. First you enter a latched gate walk a few paces and there lies another latched gate which lets into the realm of the goats. Once within this enclosure you can feed and pet around 15 goats of varying ages and sizes. I for some unknown reason do like goats. They always have seemed to me that they have personalities.
It was after about 8 to 10 minutes that my grandmother had enough and left the enclosure to sit on the bench just outside under a tree. While telling my eldest something about a nanny goat he was petting, unbeknownst to me 3 year old decided to join his Nana. Ian was always been a good-sized boy taller and stronger that his peers, despite that he he has never been supremely fast. He managed the first gate fine on his own.
It was at this time that I caught sight of him out of my peripheral. He had opened the first gate and not closed it behind him. He was opening the second gate with 5 goats in tow as I ran and yelled for him to stop. Too late. By the time I reached him (mind you it was probably about 3.7 seconds) one goat fully escaped. I managed to block one smaller goat with my leg and grab another by it’s horns before they breached the threshold.
So I hollered at Nana to keep an eye on the boys while I wrestled the goats back through the second gate, no easy task let me tell you. By this point my hair was a bit awry and I was sweating, but I needed to find the escaped goat. I didn’t see any of the people who attended theses animals anywhers but I did catch a glimpse of the four legged jail-breaker climbing up a half wall and going behind the small barn.
I take after it hoping that it would not leave the petting zoo and go marauding about town. With very little grace but a lot of determination I clambered up the half wall and wound around the barn. There I found the impertinent goat eating some flowering weeds that managed to grow back there. Not sure how I was going to get him back where he belonged I tried grabbing hold of him so that I may be able to steer him the proper direction.
The stubborn goat was enjoying his ill-gotten freedom too much to have any of that and maneuvered away. I attempted four more feeble attempts to get the goat to go where I wanted. For a fleeting moment I was considering letting him have his freedom. I mean he must really want it otherwise why would he have left his home in the first place.
No, I couldn’t just let this happen. I got closer and secured my footing, leaned in and picked the thing up. He wasn’t that big but he sure weighed a lot. By the time I got my self and the lead weighted billy back down and out from behind the barn. I looked like I went through war. I know because my dear sweet Nana told me so as I grunted by her carrying the goat. With the last bit of energy I had I plopped the goat over the fence. That whole goat fiasco took about 2o-25 minutes.
Now, from out of nowhere appeared an employee and wanted to know what was going on. I was tempted to tell her that we were trying to steal livestock but realized they wouldn’t fit in the trunk so we brought them back. I did the reasonable and sane thing and let them know one got out and that it was back in. They thanked me and once again disappeared.
I turned around and there sitting on the bench swinging their feet was Malcolm, Nana, and Ian eating ice cream. Oh what a wonderfully sweet image, almost picture postcard perfect. That was it. I was done. I had grassy stuff in my hair, goat hair clung to the sweat on my body and I had a distinctive barnyard smell to me. We were going home.
I love my children but when one of them asked me on the way home, “Can we go there again tomorrow?” I almost questioned it.
They say when you look back on things they are seen in a different light? Well that is true I can see the humor in that day now, but you know we didn’t go back for a looooong time.