Goats (And Pigs and Chickens) Have Feelings Too

by Joan on October 15, 2012

This entry is part 15 of 18 in the series Chickens

Sweetest. Face. Ever.

We went to a talk last week given by Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He’s written a number of books (the last two with Jane Goodall) on the emotional lives of animals and he’s a wonderfully animated speaker. (He’s also a cycling buddy of Very Excellent Husband Don.) The library staff was stacking the chairs and shutting off the lights and still people were waiting in line to have a word with him.

As you know, I’m kinda crazy about my animals. Lots of people have commented how I’ve filled my empty nest with chickens a goat and a pig, and that’s true to a certain extent. But for me, the bottom line is my animals are WAY COOL. It would not be an exaggeration to say there are times I prefer their company to humans.

Even so, I feel a bit silly in my barnyard talking to my animals, studying what they’re doing and how they’re interacting. Sometimes I walk away thinking what a putz I am, overdoing the anthropomorphic thinking.

But after I heard Marc speak last night, I felt much less silly in the barnyard today. Marc supports the theory that animals have emotions, can feel joy and sorrow, and are empathetic beings. I wholeheartedly agree because I see it daily.

Brandy comes bounding across the barnyard, ears wildly flapping, when she sees me come out the back door. I KNOW it’s for more than the possibility of a treat. She looks sincerely happy to see me. If she could talk I swear she’d say, “Hey! So glad to see you! Are you gonna come in the gate? Please do – I’d love to play!”

At night the chickens slowly make their way one by one into the coop to roost for the evening. It’s very deliberate and some nights there’s much consternation about who gets to sit where. When it’s all settled and everyone is in the right spot their vocalization changes, they calm down and seem happy to be together. They truly seem to enjoy each other’s company.

And then there’s Doink.  The Doink Man is one inscrutable pig.  My goal is to figure out exactly what makes Doink happy.  Other than food.  Food definitely makes him happy. (Watermelon makes Doink almost shiver with happiness.)  Belly rubs make him happy, but there’s no rhyme or reason as to when he will roll over and give that enormous belly up for a rub.

Maybe if I whisper in his ear and tell him he is a loved pig and will never, ever be bacon. Not on my watch.

I think I’ll give that a try tomorrow.

The most interesting pig in the world. Stay hungry, my friends.

(This post shared at Tilly’s Nest and Backyard Farming Connection.)

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tammy/Our Neck of the Woods October 17, 2012 at 11:07 am

So sweet! I actually became a vegetarian after getting my chickens 3 years ago because I saw just how much emotion they can display and how obvious it was that they had feelings. I fell in love with them and could not eat meat again!
Tammy/Our Neck of the Woods´s last blog post ..Exciting News!

Joan October 17, 2012 at 11:44 am

Tammy, I agree. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years and when I look into the eyes of my animals I know, for me, it’s absolutely the right decision. Thanks for stopping by!
Joan´s last blog post ..Goats (And Pigs and Chickens) Have Feelings Too

Debbie October 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I love the pictures of your animals! Great post, love the insight.
We have chickens and I know they have emotions…I love how they come running up to me when they see me coming out to the back of the property. I would love to have a couple goats and pigs would be awesome! But, not right now…one day I know it will happen.
Saw you linking at Tilly’s Nest.
Debbie :)
Debbie´s last blog post ..My New Old Bird Cage

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