It’s all about the goats
In the battle of zoo versus farm, the farm wins hands-down, as far as my daughter is concerned.
Before we found a farm that allowed petting and feeding of animals, my wife and I had been taking our daughter semi-regularly to the Virginia Zoo to get exposed to different kinds of animals.
When we lived on the other side of the water, we used to take her to the Virginia Living Museum, and now, living on the Southside, we also take her to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.
While she liked the touch tank at the Virginia Living Museum, and she likes seeing the seals and large sharks at the Virginia Aquarium, those only held her attention for so long before she’d want to move along.
But those places fared better than the Virginia Zoo, at least for her.
As a quick aside, my wife and I enjoy visiting the Virginia Zoo and seeing the various animals there, but it hasn’t yet rubbed off on our daughter. On our last visit a couple of weeks ago, she sat in her stroller nearly the entire time and kept asking us to move along.
But at the farm, we can’t get her away from the goats.
OK, we can, but for a brief pony ride only. Otherwise, if we try to leave the farm, it brings a cacophony of crying.
Her first and sometimes only stop is the goat pen. When she goes into their enclosure, she makes it a point to pet every goat there. They all get multiple pets, and some get hugs.
But oh, the poor little ones.
They race around, with my daughter not far behind, trying to elude her. They’ll hide behind the bigger goats, they’ll run from one end of the pen to the other, they’ll even climb on the bigger goats.
Desperate, they’ll go into the little feeding house at the back — their only respite from the two-legged female creature chasing them.
This goes on for about an hour, and even at that point, she hasn’t tired of chasing, petting and hugging the goats.
The hugging moments are precious, and makes my wife and I think for a moment that we should have a farm of our own before we come back to how tired we are already.
Having an uncle who was a dairy farmer, and having met more than a few farmers over the course of many years, I have a great appreciation for the exhaustingly long days they need to put in.
Not to say the work isn’t rewarding for them, and wouldn’t be rewarding for us — especially if my wife was allowed to have alpacas on our farm — but by the end of the day with our daughter, we’re zombies.
And our daughter, pushing 3 years old, is savvy enough to know when we get to that point. It’s when she gets extra stories, another cup of milk or apple juice, or an extra helping of Octonauts on Netflix.
As we’ve seen with the goats, it’s hard to exhaust my daughter.
For now, we’ll eschew the zoo and stick to taking her to the farm.
Goats, be forewarned.