Finding Balance

This past week the focus of my Animal Assisted Therapy program was the topic of Animal Welfare. I love the weeks during the program when the subject matter seems to go into a direction that I am already familiar with! My connection to the assigned reading and writing seems to flow much faster this way. I think about animal welfare daily on my farm so the topic is one I usually have a lot to say about! What I did not realize was that the concept of animal welfare was first conceptualized by the Five Freedoms which was initially proposed in the UK’s “Brambell Report” to address livestock husbandry in 1965. The Five Freedoms outline five aspects of living beings welfare which are as follows:

Freedom from thirst, hunger, and malnutrition

Freedom from discomfort

Freedom from pain, injury and disease

Freedom from fear and distress

Freedom to express most normal behavior

Its crazy to think that in 1910 half of the US population worked on small farms where there was diversity of animals and plants on acres of grass. Within ten years as the Industrial Revolution swept across the country, there was a higher standard of living and an increase in population, we turned to new technology and mass production.

High variety, small scale farms were traded for giant indoor facilities that could accommodate the largest amount of animals for the cheapest cost and smallest amount of necessary acreage. Unfortunately, the beginning of Factory Farming in this country.

I don’t attempt to know what the answer is to factory farming. I try to do what I can and farm with the highest standards of animal welfare on my small acreage. My hope and belief is that more people are becoming conscious to the issues with factory farming and our food supply chain.

As I begin to plan what I would like the future therapeutic endeavor on the farm to look like I find myself thinking about the welfare of the animals that will be “co-therapists”. I have been asking myself questions like “how can I do this in the most ethical way for the animals that will be involved?” So far I have been thinking a lot about the physical environment for both animals and people. I have learned many lessons over the last decade with having a farm that is open to the public. The most important one is keeping the atmosphere less hectic, sticking to smaller groups, setting clear standards with little ones as how to appropriately handle the animals. The animals seem to do best when they have a place to retreat to if needed when we are doing events or classes. One thing that I know for sure is that most animals are social beings and desire human contact. Working dogs appear to be internally motivated to perform. They enjoy working and having a purpose. I have seen this with sled dogs, guide dogs, therapy dogs, and livestock guardian dogs. I think the bottom line is finding a balance that works for everyone involved both animal and human.

Our 2024 calendar of events will be posted to the website by Christmas! If you are still thinking of a gift certificate for a soap making, cheese making, or bee keeping class on the farm we can mail them to the recipient or email them to you ASAP. We are also offering gift certificates for goat hikes. Just send me an email at Our plan is to resume goat hikes at the end of March weather permitting. Last day for guaranteed shipping for Christmas is December 18. Please check out our Etsy shop for great gift ideas.