VeganMoFo Day 20: Helping Out at Harvest Home

It was hot and breezy today, great weather for an outdoor project. After a week of slightly unpredictable weather, we welcomed this today because we had an outdoor project scheduled. My husband and I woke up early, headed out to Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary in Stockton, and winterized a goat barn today! We didn’t do it alone, of course. With a sometimes overwhelming number of animals assisting, we constructed a wall and a door on an open stall in one of the sanctuary’s barns. The project was specifically for Merl, a goat resident at Harvest Home. He was definitely the supervisor of the project, and he took his job very seriously.

Tasting the wood and rearranging the lumber were two of his major contributions. At one point, Merl upended the cart that held the 2 X 4s and attempted to climb on top of the reorganized supplies. He also made sure we took adequate breaks by resting his head on us when he needed some lovin’ or by giving us a playful nudge. He’s a funny guy. I’m so thankful that Harvest Home rescued him from his earlier life as a stray, a poor lost boy without a home who’d been found wandering alone and uncared for in the nearby hills.

A turkey, a few other goats, and a group of personality-plus chickens also kept us on task. If you’ve never worked on a project with chickens and roosters darting around underfoot, you’re really missing something. They’re actually quite articulate and kept us entertained with their voices the whole time. We certainly knew when we’d done something to upset them or make them change their plans. Fortunately, we didn’t upset them too much and they eventually retired to another section of the barn for what appeared to be an invitation-only chicken convention.

We worked into the afternoon. There was a gentle breeze, but it was still pretty warm. The work was fun and rewarding. More than wanting to get the project done just for the sake of finishing it, we were eager to complete it so we could check out Merl’s reaction to his new digs.

At lunchtime, the wonderful people of Harvest Home made us a fantastic and filling meal. The details of the meal made it so much more than a just a lunch and provided us with an excuse to relax in the shady yard amid the dogs, chickens, and ducks.

The pasta was deliciously spicy thanks to the assorted seasonings added to the sauce and the addition of some soy chorizo. Fresh avocado gave the greens-filled salad a wonderful texture. Bread rounded out the meal well, and the company we had made the meal perfect. Not only were we in an environment filled with rabbits, pigs, goats, ducks, turkeys, and other animals, we were in the presence of the people responsible for making sure that these animals are cared for with love and kept healthy and safe every day. Sitting and chatting with them and sharing this awesome meal revitalized us and gave us the energy we needed to push through the afternoon heat and finish Merl’s barn.

When we got back to the project, I succeeded in getting on the bad side of Jorge, a great rooster with a ‘tude. After giving me the this-and-that by pecking at my shoes, he allowed me to get back at to work. My husband and I wrestled with the door a bit before we were through, but in the end, the barn came together beautifully. Merl’s chicken friends hurried over to check out the renovated barn and Merl seemed intrigued and pleased, too.

Rain is predicted within the next week, so Merl will soon have a chance to try out his newly winterized quarters. We’re hoping he enjoys his new bedroom and can hardly wait to check in with him and everyone at Harvest Home again soon.

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