I’m goin’ up the country, baby don’t you wanna go?

Last weekend, Steve and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Sonoma County Fair.

Until I moved to California, I went to the local county fair in Illinois with my dad every year for as long as I can remember, and my favorite thing was always the animal barns. My dad jokes about taking a deep breath before entering the swine barn and trying to hold it until we were out, but I just couldn’t get enough. To me, a county fair is synonymous with farm animals.

Back when I was a child, it seemed like access to the animals was much easier and I would pet the pigs, pat the cows’ hindquarters, and look soulfully into the goats’ eyes. Oh, the goats. How I loved the goats. Going back as far as I can remember, probably back to that first trip to the county fair when I was a toddler, I have always wanted to have a goat.

These days, walking through the animal barns is very much an arm’s distance affair.  The individual corrals have high fences to keep hands out and there are people around to discourage passersby from petting the animals. I understand why – imagine the stress on the animals having hundreds of what are basically American Tourists intruding on their space all day, not to mention the possibility of spreading diseases. But it can be hard to resist when a goat comes up to the fence, stands on the bottom rung and pushes its head towards you.

Fortunately, there is often a petting zoo set-up at the local fairs so people can get up close and personal without man-handling the animals in the barns.  Unfortunately, it is usually a madhouse, extremely crowded with people. For the last few years, we have decided to walk by rather than stand in line in the hot sun for 10 minutes only to get in and find every animal occupied with someone, or find a potential friend only to have a young child run up to it. Because you have to yield to the child.

This year, the fair didn’t seem to be crowded at all and the petting zoo only had a few people in it.  This was our chance for some quality time.  All of the goats can be a bit pushy when it comes to the food, but there are usually a few who are incredibly persistent, pushing their way through, around, and over the other animals to get to the feeding hand. As you can see, this black and tan goat was a very pushy beast.

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I quickly had a crowd surrounding me and I was happy as a clam.

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Even when I was out of food, I was able to find a friend willing to accept a scratch instead.

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I love the goats, but pigs are decent, too.

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And this burro loved having his nose rubbed.

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Loving the beard on this guy! As I told Steve as I was giving this guy a firm chin rubbing, if you’re going to pet the animals, really get in there and pet the animals. You’re going to have to wash your hands either way.

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Yes, it is true, I love the goats. My dad often tells me there is nothing going on in their heads, pointing out that their skulls provide very little space for their brains. This year I really took a look past their eyes and noticed that, indeed, just over their eye ridges, there is a rather precipitous drop in their skulls where a larger brain might otherwise go. But I just don’t care. I choose to gaze into their eyes instead and see a sweet soul that just wants a scratch and a place to rest its head.

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It remains my dream to someday have a house with a proper amount of land so we can have a large raccoon foster care enclosure, an attached outdoor cat run, a couple of hound dogs, and a pen of 2-3 goats. Steve desperately wants a duck pond.  Here is our current “love duck” and I am sorely tempted this time. She is undoubtedly the most beautiful duck I’ve ever seen. 

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 We totally need to move to the country.

On a side note, we also took in a bit of the judging. I get a kick out of watching this for a little while, but all I can think is “for the love of god, would you please milk that cow!” 

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