There is always so much to do and see at Conner Prairie, you could come every week and see something different. Nowhere on the grounds is that more true than in the Animal Encounters Barn. The livestock program at Conner Prairie is run just like any other farm with the one exception that the livestock also volunteer to be education facilitators. It isn’t a petting zoo, although lots of petting does occur, the animals are there to help educate guests about agriculture and history.
The animals are carefully selected for their temperament and closely monitored. If they show any amount of stress at all they are allowed to return to the pasture. However, usually the opposite is true, the Tunis have especially been known to demand attention from the guests even going so far as to goose them if necessary.
As facilitators we are able to discuss anything and everything there is to know about the various livestock on the grounds. Sometimes we demonstrate such things as hoof trimming or other livestock management practices.
Of course, one of the guest’s favorite activities is feeding the bottle babies.
Yet, if they are really, really lucky and they happen to draw what I call The Golden Ticket, they get an even better reward for visiting. Just behind the railing is a pen. A pen where ewes and does lounge and rest.
If the guests draw that Golden Ticket, the barn goes silent, so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The only sound that can be heard is the calm and assuring voice of the livestock manager explaining in detail what is about to happen.
The guests eyes grow wide as saucers as the miracle of life unfolds right before them. Gasps can be heard as the first lamb works her way into this world. Gasps again when they realize there are more lambs coming. No one can break themselves away from the railing until the newborns learn to take their first steps.
They wait until they know everyone is settled in, then and only then, do they leave. But they don’t go empty handed, they take with them an experience of a lifetime and a memory they will never forget.