The Charmed Life of Goats at Thomas Farm
It is a funny thing to be able to anchor the actions of an animal to the human experience. Such moments are certainly uncommon outside of the time we spend with our immediate family pets, which may also indicate why they are so meaningful to us as storytellers—for instance, through the use of anthropomorphic animals as a narrative device. People have long adored passing on stories featuring depictions of our animal friends with exaggerated, distinctively “human” qualities. Therefore, it is compelling to think that this concept is rooted in some form of truth as the story of Thomas Farm is no fable or fairy tale. Rather, it is the true story of a herd of farm goats who radiate charm and personality in unexpected—and yes—relatable ways.
Indeed, I realized there was something uniquely special about this farm as I ventured around with the camera, attempting to capture every possible detail on video in order to tell the story of the goats’ lives. A first observation worth noting was undoubtedly the exceptional quality of life these animals are lucky enough to enjoy, made apparent by their degree of interest in us. Given the fact Thomas Farm is a well-established co-op partner renowned for their deliciously creamy goat milks and cheeses, I expected no less. However, what truly separated the experience was how interactive these animals were—all eager to greet new faces.
When farm owners Jim and Laurie unexpectedly began introducing us to individual goats by name, it was evident the goats had not only taken to their human companions but even wanted to be recognized and shown affection. To my surprise, they would each react in different ways when being called, indicating that they recognized when they were being spoken to by their caretakers. Studies have shown that dairy farmers who name their stock tend to produce happier animals, which leads to higher milk yields. It was all very impressive, but even these interactions would be eclipsed by a different kind of encounter with one fascinatingly memorable baby goat.
As I carried on my trek around the farm, both capturing footage of the wonderful animals and cheesemaking process, as well as sampling the yummy varieties of local goat cheeses produced by Jim and Laurie, I eventually discovered I had drawn in a small admirer. One particular goat had been shadowing me around the property for some time—a very curious young goat, or “kid” as they’re also known. As I would stop, she would stop. When I would start walking again, whether in a straight line, in circles, or through the barn, she would continue to follow me. I even burst into a jog at one point as a fun little test and sure enough, I found that the little goat was galloping right alongside me, eager to play along with the game. This was worth a good laugh, but more importantly, it taught me that the quality of life experienced by the animals at Thomas Farm was a step above anything else I had witnessed before.
Openness. Trust. Understanding. While we typically refer to these characteristics as decidedly human in nature, moments as special as those shared with the goats of Thomas Farm make it plain to see such qualities can apply to other species as well. Interactions with and within nature can often reveal unknown truths, and while we might not have the necessary scientific knowledge to objectively break down an animal’s cognitive process, it is apparent they must feel and experience many of the same things we do. For that, I am thankful for places like Thomas Farm, whose owners go above and beyond to ensure their animals’ lives are as positive and fulfilling as one could ever hope them to be.