Tom: For the last 10 days we’ve been staying with a family in the Spanish mountainside. In exchange for the accommodation and meals we helped out at their farm. As Lisa had been ill in the first days and could not do anything, I was introduced to the small farm and it’s inhabitants.
The second-eldest was visiting for the weekend and he taught me how to clean the paddock, feed the animals and give them some water, milk the goats etc. Both quickly ended up having funny conversations. Once, Bob* said to me: “Look, over there, the little goats!” And indeed, the three smallest goat babys had gathered in the milking stall putting their heads together. “They talk about world politics!”.
I laughed and told him, that it actually seemed more important to them than it was to us. Because the world is a much more dangerous place for goats than it is for humans in our position:
“Do people really eat goats? Where does all the milk go? “
Three days later, I decided to make a small change to the animals lives. I am sure they are still living in this very small space and as they did accompany me each time I was walking through I’ve got to know them soon.
But what to do? At the beginning I thought about team sports. Wouldn’t it be great if they were playing soccer in two teams? But, wait a moment, how can I teach goats to play soccer in a very short time? So, I mused!
After one week, I laid the foundation for a playground. Lisa and me, armed with an old tyre, went into the big paddock inhabited by the adult goats, the donkey and the two horses.
The interest was … modest. Whenever the tire moved, countenance all vanished!
The guys in the pen for the young goats and their mothers made us appreciate our future vision so much more! The tires were classified ‘super interesting’ and immediately were examined.
So, we decided to dig holes and half-sink the tires in it.
How wonderful this small playground would turn out to be and what changes it made possible … We hadn’t ever been aware of!
The miserable, smallest goat kid changed from his favourite hobby: letargicly lying around. Within 2 days he was the one with the strongest will to play. He could even get in touch with the bigger and older goat kids, that hadn’t been pacing any attention to him before. Some goats practiced synchronous jumping. Others were concerned just to not slide down or with jumping to the next tyre. If then, the task had been successfully achieved a joyful leap followed. The goat mothers pouted jealously at the edge and overall, the social tension and aggression, which we observed on previous days, reduced!
As the smallest goat kid, barely bigger than a young cat, was one of the first to make that huge jump from tyre to tyre, he catapulted himself down with a miraculous joy-hopping. Lisa and I simultaniously cheered on him. Just one moment passed and he ran to the fence to be proudly cuddled by us. And not only he got better: The goat children thrived so much because of the play and the attention they received, we got a sinking feeling saying goodbye to them. Knowingly, that it would not be the easiest goat life laying ahead of them …
How incredibly happy, especially young animals, not only play, but also seek social empowerment and how it motivates them really encouraged us! We feel like we’ve brought a whole generation of goat kids closer together. And that’s beautiful …