I won't claim to be any kind of "animal lover" from the time I was a kid or anything of the sort. But, as I read more and more about our environment, vegan lifestyle, and animal rights I grow a deeper and deeper respect for the lives and capabilities of animals which so many don't see as any more than food. In the city, it's rare to come face-to-face with any animals aside from your average house pet (dog, cat, bird, whathaveyou) or a lobster or fish in a tank before it's cooked up in chinatown or your local seafood spot.
So between my growing interest in learning what these animals are really all about and Avital's obsession with any animal who's sound she can replicate (a nay, moo, quack, you get it), I figured we should find a farm to visit.
Luckily there are a handful out on the eastern end of Long Island and we were out there for the long weekend. Thursday's weather was not so beachy, so we took a ride out to Montauk to visit Rita's Stables.
As we drove up to the barn we really weren't sure what to make of it (or even if we were welcome). There was no one in site (visitors or barn hands alike) and goats, sheep, horses, chickens, and some roosters roaming the property without any pens or gates to keep them in (I'm talking total access to the road!). We pulled up and I got out to see if I could find anyone. Could we pay to roam? Feed the animals? Pet the sheep?
No one was in the office, so I peeked into the barn. In the way back there was a lady tending to one of the horses (later we found out he had a broken neck and was rescued by Rita). She said we were free to walk around, so I went to get everyone out of the car. Avi was ecstatic. The woman was named Jodi and she was supersweet and gave us a mini tour of the barn and stables and introduced us to her animals which she kept on the farm. They were pretty amazing.
Captain Walker is her horse who answers yes by nodding his head when she asks: "Are you a good boy?!?" I couldn't stop laughing when I saw that. She had him answer a few questions and I was stunned by his enthusiasm. Lulu and Lilly are her sheep who come when she offers them "cookies" (I think it was corn she gave them as a treat) and follow her around most of the time (they even ride in the back seat of her car). When Lulu was born she was separated from her mother by accident and put in the wrong pen to sleep. The next morning the mother rejected her, so Jodi took her home and raised her in her house (diapers, bottles, the whole shabang). When she got too big to stay in the house, Jodi got Lilly from a farm upstate to keep Lulu company outside. Now they both live on the farm and Jodi is there most of the day to hang with them and her two horses.
It was an amazing experience seeing these animals and how gentle and responsive they are. Lulu literally treats Jodi like a mother! It was a really special afternoon and a superspecial place! We'll definitely be going back to visit again this summer.