7/6/2020; Elyse Erdman
Animal care and therapy is an essential aspect of our day program on the Farm. The number and variety of animals we have had over the years keeps growing. Currently, the Farm is home to two miniature horses, three pigs, six goats, four sheep, five alpacas, two rabbits, two ducks, many chickens, a guinea pig, and several cats. Animal-Assisted Therapy has been shown to reduce certain brain chemicals associated with stress and anxiety, to increase certain brain chemicals associated with healthy behavior and social function, and to reduce depression in older adults. These benefits, and the feeling of meaningfulness that Growers gain through caring for their animals, proves just how important all of our animals are to our program on the Farm. Growers’ faces light up with joy when it’s time to see and care for their animals. During our Covid-19 closure, Growers and their families even visited the Farm (following social distancing precautions) to see how their animals were doing. However, since our day program is closed, our staff cares for and feeds the animals daily. They even give them special attention during our Zoom parties. For example, during the parties we have walked the goats, let the guinea pig run around in the grass, and allowed the pigs to play in a ball pit. Even with these activities, we can all tell that the animals our missing their Growers. “We come up to the fences or the gates, or sometimes I’ll just go and rattle the chain, and they come running because they want to see somebody,” spoke Executive Director Jim Gainer. “They’re kind of missing their Growers too. While we’re volunteering and while we’re there, we’re really making an effort to work with the animals and keep them socialized by giving them that interaction that they’re used to.” With the return of Growers next week on a limited basis, the animals should feel more at home. We may all feel the world changing around us because of Covid-19 regulations, but our animals feel it too. Stay tuned to meet some of our adorable, loving animals this week on our Instagram and Facebook pages.
For videos of Growers caring for their animals on the Farm, visit our YouTube channel.