When I was working on my graduate degree in History, I had the opportunity to do an internship with the National Park Service. I was a Park Guide at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, North Carolina. It was an incredible experience: I gave tours of Sandburg’s historic 1838 farmhouse, I lived inside the park in another historic structure (that had been modernized – slightly), and got to play with baby goats and wake up to (and continue the day with) the sound of a crowing rooster about 30 yards from my window.
Because I lived next door to the barn that summer, I got to take care of a baby Nubian goat in the evenings several days a week. All of the goats at the Sandburg home are from Lillian Sandburg’s original herd’s bloodlines – she raised award-winning goats. This little guy, Mason, was separated from his mother a little too early and none of the other goat-moms would take him in, so we bottle-fed him. I had never bottle-fed a young goat (or any other animal) before, and I was amazed at how quickly he could drink a 1-liter bottle of milk – in about 45 seconds.
Every spring, there are lots of little goats to play with. It’s always a lot of fun to take children to see them. Baby goats, when they are still pretty young, will let you hold them and will be pretty content to just sit. Then they learn what to do with their long legs and they are hardly ever still – and how funny it is to watch them!
Providing many, many opportunities to be around animals and nature is one of our parenting priorities. My folks made sure I was around animals when I was growing up, and I was probably outside more than inside, mostly of my own volition. These times exploring the woods with my Dad, watering plants with my Mom, and playing “football” with the family dog are some of the best memories I have of childhood. It’s definitely an understatement to say that *A* and I look forward to doing stuff like that with our kids – and taking them to places like the barnyard at the Carl Sandburg Home to play with other kids (goats, in this case!)
All photos, except the photo of me and Mason are courtesy of The National Park Service / Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site / http://www.nps.gov/carl