Last Tuesday, I was itching to do something different with my 3-year-old twins and 6-year-old kindergartener when I received an e-mail from a friend that Heifer International's Overlook Farm in Rutland was having an open house. An afternoon on a farm full of baby animals? Homemade cookies and milk? It's free? How could we resist!
Our Heifer volunteer, Anna, introduced us to the resident animals which include sheep, cows, dogs, chickens, llamas, a camel, goats, and a donkey. We learned interesting details such as why animals chew their cud and why sheep tails get "docked." We saw the site of the barn that was tragically destroyed by a fire last year and felt sorry for the animals who could not be saved. We hoped the animals would get a new barn soon. Our hearts also went out to a baby pig we named "Wilbur." Sadly, he was struggling since being abandoned at the Farm. We looked for Charlotte.
We warmed up in the gift shop full of unique items from around the world as we enjoyed our homemade cookies and milk.
Then, we were treated to a surprise. There was a book signing for the New York Times bestselling children's book, Beatrice's Goat. And guess who was signing the book? Beatrice herself!
That's when the connections started happening for my 6-year-old. She listened to Beatrice, who is now a young woman in college, talk about her childhood full of poverty in Uganda. Her family was only able to send her to school and build a new house after they received a goat from Heifer International.
My daughter realized that the little goats she had petted were actually going to be sent to needy families across the globe. The goats, and other animals, would save families from hunger and poverty by providing milk, labor, offspring, and more.
We went home and read Beatrice's Goat (it's wonderful) and went online to www.heifer.org to see how we could help. We were surprised that buying a goat for a deserving family would cost us only $120. We thought we could save our change.
It was such an uplifting, educational, and fun outing! When it's warmer, we will return to visit the animals and to explore the Global Village which shows what actual homes look like around the world.
On a nice day, pack a picnic and take a drive to the farm, but before you go, be sure to read Beatrice's Goat.
Overlook is FREE to the public and open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for visitors to take self-guided tours, watch a video, visit the gift shop, picnic, etc. They recommend you call ahead or stop by the office first. For more information, visit www.heifer.org/ (Click "Learning Centers" under "Learn") or call 508-886-2221.
An International Fair ideal for families is planned for June 23 & 24.