When I was about 9 (no clicking away, it's not that long a story!), my family packed up the Cadillac Seville and headed from Brooklyn to the Catskill Game Farm ("Catskill Game Farm was a zoo in Catskill, New York, U.S.A.. It closed permanently on Columbus Day 2006 after 73 years of operation" - Wikipedia quote.
Looking back, my Mom and Dad always found a way to get us out of the city for the Summer. In fact, some of my earliest memories were those going to a "bungalow colony" resort in the Catskills for school break. We'd rent a tiny, little house (my parents actually slept on a trundle bed in the kitchen in one of them) and we stayed the entire Summer until it was time to head back to school. I remember thinking that kids in my class only got to go to Paris for a week but I went to "the country" for the whole Summer. I think Mom had visions of us running under fire hydrants with the hooligans and decided getting us out of Dodge was the best way to keep us out of trouble.
That year at the Game Farm, my Dad got me a map of the fairgrounds. It was colorful, had drawings of all the exhibits and I plotted our course through the grounds with absolute precision. My sister and I went into the petting zoo and a llama decided she needed a snack and proceeded to eat my amazing map. I didn't know what to do, I was frozen with fear. This huge animal was getting her daily dose of fiber and I couldn't do a thing about it. With panic seared into my memory, I never liked farm/zoo animals again. The circus, fey. I never played with ants in the dirt, fish at the lake and even a trip to the park where I might encounter a squirrel was a flat-out "no thank you". Even today, a gecko on my lanai gives me a start and those pesky frogs at my front door turn my stomach.
In college, I tried to overcome my animal phobia and for a very short time while in college, I worked on a diary farm in upstate NY. A friend's family owned the farm and they happily let me slop cow shit and try not to get run over in the evening stampede back to the barn. I don't understand why they got to ride on horses and all I got was a big stick and instructions to yell loudly. Oh yeah, I didn't like horses. The whole experiment failed. It was hot, there were flies everywhere and cows are just about as dumb as an animal can get.
Fast forward... as my love of fiber grew and knitting became a regular part of my life, I thought my love for the animals that bore their coats for those lovely skeins would grow as well. Not so much but the idea of rural farm life totally romanced me. Granted, it usually included a hunky farm boy-friend who did all the dirty stuff but I was romanced all the same.
The other day, I visited WillyG's blog and saw a photo of him laying in the grass with llamas. First thought was ... tics, bugs, crap, trampling, spitting...ick...ick...ick. Then I linked to the farm's website where the photo was taken. Take a look at it. The enchanting, Wunsapana Farm conjures up images of an idyllic life in "the country". Scroll down the homepage and take a look at their home, read what they have to say about their farm and you too will be under its spell.
Well, I'm not liquidating the 401K to buy a farm but the idea of embracing these splendid creatures before I actually "buy the farm" warms my soul. I hope it does the same for you.