I've often found it funny that one of the first things we teach our children is to recognize and perform the sounds that various farm animals make. Just how critical is this particular skill to surviving in today's world? As far as I can tell for most of us, not very. Still, for some reason we do it; they love it; the cycle continues.
Fortunately, we were prepared when we attended the LA County Fair last week. Island Boy was ready with his full repertoire of farm animal noises despite having seen very few farm animals in his short lifetime prior to this excursion.
(Tangent: One day Island Boy had a bite of beef on his fork and I told him that it was beef and that beef came from cows. He looked at me, looked at the beef, said, "MOO!!", and shoved it in his mouth. Very cute!!)
We spent much of our visit in the Big Red Barn where cows, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens and even a few farm dogs all roamed in large enclosures along with their babies. We listened for the crow of the rooster and the snorting of the pigs and watched the animals as they ate, drank, slept and played.
We enjoyed petting two docile creatures in a small pen off to the side of the festivities and learned that they were not cows as I (and apparently most visitors to the Fair) had assumed. No, one was actually a miniature yak and the other a zebu! How cool is that? I was not prepared to share with Island Boy the associated noises that these furry friends make and they didn't help me out while we were there. Although I had no idea the zebu was from South Africa until the nice lady tending to him told me so, I was able to correctly identify the geographic origin of the yak. (Thinking about the geographic origins of these two made me wonder why someone thought to pen them together...) Island Boy loved the yak and spent a good amount of time stroking its fur and exploring its little horns(!).
For reasons that I have yet to understand, the horses were nowhere to be found in the Big Red Barn, so we walked a painful distance - all the way to the other side of the Fair so that I could show Island Boy the Clydesdales, a team of horses that has always impressed me with their size and beauty. Unfortunately, our trek was not well-rewarded. While the horses were beautiful, each stood in a separate and what appeared to be a much-too-small stall with bars all the way up and the public was kept well away from them. It just didn't have the same impact as getting up close and looking one of them in the eye, or standing close enough to gain full appreciation of the size of one hoof (think very large dinner plate).
After visiting the Clydesdales, I still felt like we were missing out unless we managed to get up close to a real horse, so we located the California Mustangs. I was hoping to see an impressive herd of them galloping across the plains (ok, just kidding here, but seriously, how cool would that be??), but once again, the public was kept well back from the horses. They were in larger quarters than the Clydesdales and the bars did not extend to the ceiling, but the experience wasn't quite what I'd hoped. Let's just say the environment did not exactly convey, "wild and free".
On our way back to the Big Red Barn we had the pleasure of petting a chicken so fluffy there seemed to be nothing to it but fluff and we also explored the lovely skin of a Bearded Dragon. We hit the Big Red Barn one more time on our way out for a final rewarding visit to our farm animal friends. Although he insisted he was not ready to leave, Island Boy was asleep in his car seat before we were back on the freeway.