Thursday, January 14, 2010

'accessimals' Pennsylvania Farm Show

24 acres under roof, spread throughout 11 buildings the Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in America and somewhat of an Olympics for physically challenged visitors and caregivers.

Expanded “handicapped parking and access areas” are a plus however there is always a time consuming logjam at the too few elevators necessary to move between buildings if you are not a walker.

Yet we have learned to navigate between buildings through the outside, backstage world of exhibitors and animals. 

No logjams out there and with 50 °F (10 °C) temps in January it was a beautiful day for visiting, like with a guy who mucks out the stalls wearing a t-shirt, “shit happens”. Priceless!

Bent Pine Alpaca Farm caught our attention not only because of their unusual farm vehicle but their story of a small "mom and pop" ambulance and wheelchair van service transitioning to alpaca farming.

There is no condescending treatment or ‘invisibility’ involved with a disability around animals. Goats are always the most interactive and this one had no scrupples about luring Patti closer so he could try and take a bite out of her wheelchair.

Less manipulative than goats, this draft horse, this size of a dinosaur, could not have been gentler in dealing with Patti.

Yet the real lure is the food court! Dairymen’s Association for milkshakes, Mushroom Growers for breaded mushrooms, Livestock Association for lamb stew then Potato Growers for a potato donut for desert and a bag to take back to care facility staff.

Patti’s Multiple Sclerosis symptoms of lack of eye-hand coordination and inability to keep her hand stable enough to hold a spoon of stew necessitates me feeding her. Patti had no qualms about that, she wanted lamb stew! And if I may say so it was the best I ever tasted.

Patrick: Patti! What is that animal next to you?
Patti: I can’t really tell, I think it is an armadillo.
Patrick: An armadillo? Your head is a strange place.
Patti: (dissolving into laughter) Yes it is! And it sure needs a nap.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer


  1. Thanks for sharing the outing. Reminds me of when BR milked a goat at the State Fair of Texas. He wore that ribbon all day.

  2. Reminds me of our Illinois State Fair, always a great time, talk about luck with the weather, glad Patti had a great time, never had potato donuts.


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