Man gobbles at turkeys, they mock him

Not a single turkey you can buy in a supermarket could walk normally, much less jump or fly. Did you know that? They can’t even have sex. Not the antibiotic-free, or organic, or free-range, or anything. They all have the same foolish genetics, and their bodies won’t allow for it anymore. Every turkey sold in every store and served in every restaurant was the product of artificial insemination. If it were only for efficiency, that would be one thing, but these animals literally can’t reproduce naturally. Tell me what could be sustainable about that?
—  Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer
The Animals of Screaming Goat Ranch

I’ve been WWOOFing on Screaming Goat Ranch in Phoenix, Arizona for about a week now, and in that time I’ve come to know a most varied and fascinating crew of creatures.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present:




Mr. P

Chula & Abby

That’s right - five dogs, from a Great Pyrenees down to a chihuahua mutt.  Five sizes of dog bowl, five sizes of leash, five sizes of doodoo.  (If you’re thinking Mr. P stands for something more dignified than it might suggest, you’re wrong.)

Chula and Abby are probably my favorites, for sheer entertainment value. 
Chula is especially fond of perching on top of Abby when she’s trying to sleep and chewing on her ears; this continues until Abby gets irritated and stands up, causing Chula to fall off sideways like a drunken cowboy.




(Not pictured, because you try getting five flattering portraits of hungry goats: Coco, Lily and Karma.)  Sydney is the most timid, although that meekness dissipates quickly when you try to take her away from food before she’s ready.  Once, when I attempted to pull her away from the grain box by her collar, she proceeded to lock her legs and actually roll off the milking platform like a student activist being hauled off by the police.

Freckles, however, would prefer to bypass being milked in the first place.  When she’s feeling particularly ornery, which is usually, she curls up in a ball until she resembles a Thanksgiving turkey attached to a goat head nose-deep in a grain box.

Karma is the only male.  His favorite activity is pressing his body along the length of his fence, in a manner reminiscent of a tattooed jailbird rattling his prison bars when the deputy’s daughter comes to visit.



SGR is home to chickens and ducks, but the real star of the show is the lone turkey, Sal.  Despite my persistent ambivalence, Sal has been on a tireless quest to prove his manliness to me since I arrived.  His days are spent fluffing his feathers to their fullest extent, promenading from one side of the coop to the other in a commanding fashion, and emitting occasional “puh!” noises that make it sound like he’s scoffing at someone who just questioned his magnificence.


There are two pigs on the ranch, Hammy and Oreo.  I have no pictures of them, as taking pictures of them would require stepping inside of their pen for longer than absolutely necessary.  If you enjoy looking at pictures of pigs, I invite you to utilize Google Images.


Mr. Ed & Elvis

My only experience thus far with donkeys has been Seamus, the resident donkey at Rancho El Nogal in Chihuahua, who liked to grab piglets in his mouth and shake them like chewtoys and occasionally stood in the middle of the road until you literally nudged him out of the way with your car.  These donkeys are much more mild-mannered; in fact, I would say they’re the hoofed equivalent of a couple of cats.  They like to sniff your hand and then run away, or sometimes just run away.  They’re also fond of screeching for hay and then fighting over who gets to lick the bottom of the hay barrel while completely ignoring said hay.

So there you have it, folks - my comrades and charges for these couple of weeks.  So far I have yet to hear a goat actually scream, although Samm and Nadine inform me that people around the country are fond of calling them up on the phone, sometimes drunk, to put in a special order for what they presume to be an entirely new species of literal screaming goats.  (To their credit, they have not allowed these people to send them money.)

“Turkeys love their babies just like we do. Mommy turkeys are very protective over their chicks and have an extensive language to communicate with them. They have different sounds to call their babies, to warn them of danger, or letting them know that they found some good food. When we rescued Benny with her baby, she carried him on her back for two months until he was too big. So sweet!” –The Gentle Barn