Who wouldn’t want to hug a cow? Or calf, actually (full-grown cows scare me).
It was only Wednesday, but already I’d been thinking what a stressful week it was, so I thought a little cute farm animal therapy was in order. I googled “goat cuddling” and came up with “cow cuddling” at Mary’s Land Farm, and without a second thought, I purchased the 10 a.m. slot for the following Saturday, just 3 days away. For each “ticket,” or time slot, you may bring in 8 people. I figured I’d maybe fill four or five of the slots with my friends and colleagues. Nope. Within 15 minutes, I’d found 7 others to join me.
Several articles, include ones talking about goat cuddling at another area farm, noted that interacting with animals offers humans a mental health break; it’s well known that spending time with the animals is a great way to relieve stress. At least for a few minutes this Saturday morning, this was the antidote to the Pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine and myriad other stressors, large and small. Doesn’t hugging a cow sound calming?
Although marketed as simply cow cuddling with three 6-week old jersey calves (destined to be farm animal ambassadors), there were also four friendly adult goats, two month-old lambs and a week old goat. Nutella, the baby goat, sighed happily as he snuggled into your shoulder. The adults holding him sighed too, delighted to gently hug this precious little guy. As we did, our stresses floated off our shoulders and into the farm fresh air.
There were seven adults in our group and one child — and it was clear that adults enjoy petting zoos and baby animals just as much as, or possibly more than kids. We were all suddenly 10 years old again, giggling as we fed calves their bottles, holding pellets in our hands to feed the goats, giving the lambs back rubs or holding the baby goat.
Mary’s Land Farm is a hidden gem in Howard County, MD — the old farmhouse is now a bed and breakfast inn, there’s a farm store with products from the farm itself as well as other local farms, they’re fixing up a former dairy barn into a wedding venue, they have Easter Egg hunts (there’s one coming up this weekend), wagon tours of the farms one Saturday every month from May to September and numerous other events. And now, also, lamb cuddling, goat cuddling and cow cuddling!
In 2014, the 160-acre farm was purchased by the Cunningham Family and is being managed as balanced ecosystem of perennial plants and pasture that provides more food per acre than a standard monoculture farm. The farm’s products include produce, chicken, pork, beef, lamb, duck eggs, and chicken eggs. As the farm’s perennial plants develop, nuts, berries, grapes, vegetables, and fruit will be added to the Farm Store.
Cory, an employee of Mary’s Land Farm, noted that Cow Cuddling was an experiment this year — I hope it’s counted as successful, because this should always be a thing! The farm owner originally wondered whether anyone would be interested in interacting with farm animals but encouraged Cory to move forward with her (brilliant) idea. Apparently lots of folks want to cuddle farm animals!
Animals help reduce stress for a number of reasons:
- Petting an animal can lower blood pressure and help you feel calmer and less stressed.
- Petting animals help slow your heartrate and breathing, and more importantly, inhibit the production of stress hormones after just 5 minutes of interacting with them.
- Laughing because of animals enhances our bodies’ intake of oxygen-rich air and increases endorphins released by our brains.
The farm animals gave the members of our group many opportunities to laugh (always the best medicine). And as we enjoyed the goats as they climbed up to their platform or the sheer beauty of the little jersey calves’ eyelashes, we connected with each other. Plus, we were outside on a beautiful day in early spring — a bonus.
I’ve long understood that I’m keenly interested in meeting any animal and quite a few insects up close and personal, and that in this middle-aged woman lurks a 10 year old who exuberantly appreciates any contact with animals, no matter the species. It’s clear that zoos, petting zoos and cute farm animals should not just be the realm of children but standard in the world of adults as well.
Know before you go: One ticket = up to eight group members. Dress in clothes you wouldn’t mind getting muddy or peed on (although that didn’t happen to us).
Getting there: 4979 Sheppard Ln, Ellicott City, MD
Hours: Check the website below for dates and times available.
Website: Mary’s Land Farm