Nearby, there's a small farm with a petting zoo that we like to visit. No matter how often we go, there is always something new to see. Last week, it was a pregnant goat that had escaped her pen.
Attracted by my daughter's cup of feed, she head-butted the bottom rail of her fence until she broke out. At that point, she followed my little goatherd everywhere, led by the promise of grain in a plastic cup.
We were delighted, of course, by the goat's interest. However, I also found it very odd that she should want that feed so much. Now that she was out of her pen, she was surrounded by the most succulent greens like clover, dandelions, and plantains. By comparison, the grain seemed so unappetizing. I felt a bit sorry for her -- I mean, it seemed terribly sad to be so conditioned to having those dry, dusty pellets that she couldn't recognize a far better option when it was presented.
But the goats, it seems, are not the only creatures on the farm that don't know what they really want.
Whenever we visit the farm, I also get a kick out of observing the "city folk." I admire them for wanting to expose their children to the joys of non-human creatures, but at the same time, their reactions to the farm and its livestock sometimes make me laugh. (Sorry if that seems condescending. I don't mean to be snobby, but I can't help but be tickled. After all, if I may quote Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, "for what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?'')
On another recent visit, I watched one such carload of people unload just as we were leaving the farm. Their teenaged son raced toward a fence and began yelling. "Hey, I want a horse! Are you gonna buy me a horse?" When his mother (I assume) replied in the negative, he started whining, "How come? If dad were here, he would get one for me. Dad gets me anything I want!"
This sort of badgering continued for a couple of minutes when suddenly the boy's attention was distracted. He exclaimed, "Oooh! That's the one! That's the horse I want!"
I glanced toward where his outstretched arm was pointing -- at a llama. At that point, I ducked quickly into the car. After all, it seemed rude to laugh so loudly out in the open.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.