I’ve been farm sitting for some wonderful friends/coworkers this weekend and have been hanging out with a lot of happy farm animals indeed. This Kansas farm is home to pigs, goats, sheep, cattle, chickens, geese, turkeys, a couple of donkeys, big dogs, little dogs and one cuddly house cat.
This is my fifth (I think) time watching over things on this farm and, as luck would have it, a few of those times—including this one—occurred when there were new piglets. I love piglets. I love how social they are, how they skip and run around, and how they do something to make me laugh or smile about once every 10 seconds.
Instead of going on and on about how nice it is to see animals on a farm that are actually content—and that have the space to express their natural instincts—I’d like to just show you some pictures of them. Enjoy!
This is Albert the pet goat, who walks over to the gate every time someone comes outside. Albert and I got into a bit of a standoff last time I was out on the farm. It involved him, me, a fence, and me getting shocked by said fence as I tried to secure it. But we were able to put the past behind us and have a nice visit this time around.
A couple of young turkeys out ranging and looking at me with slight suspicion.
Besides the piglets, this donkey is one of my favorite animals on the farm. I’m not sure of its name, so I’ve been calling it Donkey Friend, the name created by my friend Jennifer (a fellow farm sitter). Donkey Friend always comes up to the gate to see me, and gets lots of scratches behind the ears and pets on the nose.
A Donkey Friend and Sheep Friend looking quite pensive.
These geese crack me up. They are so vocal, and can never decide whether they want to follow me around or run away from me.
And here’s Gus, the handsome, friendly farm dog.
And next, pigs! These are all black mulefoot hogs.
Here, you can see the contrast in size between Sam, the enormous male, and one of the new piglets.
This awesome scene is something you would never see at a large-scale factory farm: a mama pig, papa pig and baby pigs all hanging out and cuddling.
A piglet rooting around, learning how to be a pig.
In this photo, you can see the runt of the litter on the right. This piglet is quite a bit smaller than the others, so naturally I was drawn to it. I think it might be a little more simple-minded than the others ... when its siblings were nursing, it totally ignored the food source and instead climbed up on top of its mom, ears flopping, looking around happily from this perch.
Hanging out in the mud pit. As Joel Salatin would say, this type of environment totally allows the “pigness of the pig” to shine through.
Piglets exploring around the mud pit area.
Finally, a rooster that for some reason I always want to name Clive. He’s a tough old bird. He acts like he might want to fly at me with talons drawn, but he never has. He just likes to strut around like a badass, making sure that I can see him.
Happy days on the farm! It is funny that even after only five short stints with these animals, I have a donkey friend, a rooster nemesis and a complicated relationship with a goat. If anything, that only makes me appreciate that animals have personalities, and they deserve humane treatment and respect. And Clive, I highly respect even you.
Photos by Shelley Stonebrook