I believe humans’ age-old association with farm animals provide important intangible benefits to humanity. We are better for living alongside them. Those of us who have the pleasure of being around them every day likely benefit the most. We are taught in stark relief the lessons of nature – the inevitability of illness, injury, and death; the cycles of birth, growth, aging, and decline. We are constantly reminded of the fragility of life, of what it takes to be a good parent, of bravery, patience, loyalty. If we are paying attention, we are learning from them, constantly.
Nicolette Hahn Niman, Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production
The last time I visited my grandparents was over 17 years ago. Each visit to Mexico brought about lasting experiences around farm animals. It’s been years since they’ve passed away and reading Niman’s words about living with animals reminded me of what it was like to walk the farm my grandparents owned in Guerrero. My visit to Goatlandia brought back memories of helping herd a small piglet that had escaped and had been nibbling on the corn my grandpa had just sowed. The agile piglet couldn’t be cornered and my only other tactic at the time was to lunge my 10 year -old self to trap it with a bear hug. 😅
I didn’t lunge at any goats this time but there were plenty of goat hugs to go around.🤗
The world is complicated and messy place right now and the streak of rainy days in San Francisco have put me in a gloomy rut. I really appreciated the time out of the city and my normal routine.
When I explained that I’d be skipping out on a outdoor bouldering excursion outside of the city, the response was: “Goat-what? Pam, that is the most hipster shit I’ve ever heard!” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
So, what is Goatlandia and how did I find it? It’s a farm animal sanctuary an hour and a half outside of San Francisco started by the owners of Citizen Fox, a vegan pop-up that used to be open in the Mission. I never made the effort to check the pop-up out, but a friend of mine raved about their brunch and then shared the news about it closing.
She’d heard about Goatlandia but not much more other than it was in the works. The name Goatlandia and its close resemblance to Portlandia spiked my interest. 😜
I registered for the newsletter and received news that there would be a couple of weekends open for volunteering ‼️. I quickly replied with my interest and shared with friends that I would hope to join me.
Once we secured our spots, we got more details about the day in addition to encouragement to bring food for the animals:
The goats love pine or fir tree branches, oak leaves, tortilla chips, and roses. The pigs love any type of fruit or vegetables cut into smaller pieces (especially apples and pears are good), and the chickens love lettuce or other greens, sprouts, melons, hummus, and overripe bananas.
There was surprisingly a lot of work to do given the size of the small farm and it felt great to accomplish the tasks we set out to do:
Our work concluded with a delicious meal. Tempeh pate and Tofurky Bánh mì and a side of Thai coconut soup.
Before we headed out, Deb, gave us a “formal” tour of the farm and introduction to the animals.
We learned about a partnership with Compassionate Living that will help with funding future construction projects around the farm (which means more volunteer help will be needed!). Deb also noted all of her goats are former dairy goats, some of her chickens are wild and were rescued from a bush behind a gas station, and her friendly, hairy pigs are of the Kunekune breed, which are normally bred for meat.
You can learn more about ALL of the Goatlandia residents on the sanctuary’s site in addition to signing up for the newsletter to learn more about volunteer dates. I’m looking forward to visiting again.
I also learned that chickens are able to make around thirty different noises and one of them can be used warn the others of danger.
After we wrapped up and said our goodbyes, we kept the theme going with a stop at Flying Goat for an afternoon pick-me-up.