Animals at Play

I used to think farm animals pretty much stood still all the time, since that’s what they were doing when I’d drive by them on the highway. Farm animals were just part of the lovely rural scene spreading out before me, so I never really considered they might have personalities or an interest in playing. That they run, jump, and play was one of my biggest surprises when we started farming.

Now that we have over 70 lambs scampering around the pasture (and about 5-10 left to be born,) it’s a joy to watch the flock at dusk. This is when the more adventurous lambs form a ‘gang’ and run like crazy animals up and down the pasture, kicking and bucking and popping straight into the air. Newborns stick close to their moms, but watch in wide-eyed wonder as the older ‘kids’ race by. In four or five days, those newborns will start venturing farther and farther from Mom, and eventually join in the play.

Lambs love to climb on anything ‘climbable,’ including our llama Chachi, a very patience uncle. (See photo above.) The bolder lambs start hanging around him, each daring the others to climb atop this great brown mountain. Finally one hops up, holds for a second, then leaps off and races away. Chachi’s ears are back as a warning, but a second later his ears returned to normal. He doesn’t mind that lambs climb on him; he just doesn’t want to look like such a pushover. By the end of the summer they’re chewing on his wool, sleeping next to him, and walking underneath him.

Our new baby goat, smaller than most of our chickens, plays by trying out her new legs, jumping and running. Our calf, close to 300 pounds, gets all excited when I bring him his grain, popping up and twisting and wagging his tail. He does the same thing when we sprinkle straw on his back—he acts like a kid running through a sprinkler. Weird. Don’t know if this is normal.

We’re pretty exhausted from 2 ½ weeks of lambing (thank you Mary H. and Amelia H. and Phyllis R. for helping and or feeding us!), but the one thing we always manage to do is watch the animals play. We’re just glad someone’s got some energy around here.

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