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By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
When Animal Care and Volunteer Coordinator Kathy Halamka of Unity Farm woke up last Thursday, she thought that she would end the day with five cows. Dudley, the eldest Highland cow; Audrey Heifer, a jersey cow; Elliot, a Jersey-Holstein cross; Wallace, a Highland calf; and Bob, a Holstein calf. But instead, she ended the day with six.
This is just one example of the surprises that occur daily at Unity Farm.
In the last year, Unity Farm has seen the addition of over a dozen animals, all of whom have each brought their own personalities to the barnyard. Squirt and Dory were rescued from a livestock auction, where it was quickly discovered that they were going blind. “They’re really quite sweet,” says Halamka. The two Welsh ponies share a space with Mr. Goldies, a blond miniature horse. “They’re helping him become more social. He’s been here for two years and he’s still quite afraid of everyone. It’s also helping the mares that he lived with relax a bit.” When Goldie lived with some of the other miniature horses, he made them nervous; Squirt and Dory, on the other hand, are unbothered by their housemate’s panicky nature.
The goat area has seen eight new additions. In the last year, six silky fainting goats have joined the family. Perhaps the less predictable addition is the black and white llama, Maxine, who stands towering over her goat friends. Unity Farm’s website describes Maxine as being “an elegant and curious woman of mystery.” One thing that is certain, though: Maxine’s love for her pack of goats, with which she hangs out every day.
Enjoying their stay in the quarantine barn are Lila, a mother sheep; Goodwill, a white lamb; and Charlotte and Shaun, twin lambs that belong to Lila. Lila, Charlotte, and Shaun were sheep that were meant to be used to train herding dogs. However, the lambs were too friendly because they were bottle-fed, leading them to be useless when it came to training the dogs. The three tiny lambs sleep cuddled together, making a warm pile. “I just love how they sleep,” said Halamka, before Lila bleated in agreement.
Enjoying their mid afternoon nap were calves Wallace, a Scottish Highland, and Bob, a Holstein. “They had been found in veal crates by someone who just couldn’t bare that and purchased them,” explained Halamka. Highland cows are not a usual breed of cow used for veal. “I don’t know why he was separated from his mom,” puzzled Halamka. Bob’s favorite activity seems to be knocking his water over and making his caretakers refill it. Wallace’s is sucking on visitor’s hands. “I’m never hesitant to let him do this, even though I have so much else to do,” laughed Halamka. When he grow horns, Wallace will join the elder Dudley, who currently does not have a roommate.
The newest addition joined less than 24 hours before this interview. Mr. Pal McTrouble, an oreo steer - or a belted Galloway - was caught after running loose in Hopkinton. Halamka received a call from Animal Care Manager and Staff Manager Tyla Doolin about the loose cow. Doolin was determined to catch the cow, despite the skepticism about being able to wrangle the thousand-pound animal. She lost a pair of boots, but she caught the cow. Doolin and Halamka moved Pal in at 10:00 that night, and in the morning, Halamka woke up missing one cow; Pal had decided that he wanted to explore the loft of the alpaca enclosure, and then couldn’t figure out how to get himself down. So far, Pal McTrouble has lived up to his name. He’s very curious, he’s very smart, and he’s under six months - an interesting combination.
In addition to new residents, Unity Farm has enjoyed the new addition of programs. “Since this spring, we’ve had four classrooms of special needs students the Joseph Lee School in Dorchester come out, we’ve had a preschool walk here, a memory unit from Medfield come, so there’s all kinds of great things that we’re building up towards now that increase our ability to do some good for the public.”
Despite their current high capacity, for Halamka, there is always an opportunity to help an animal in need. New construction at the farm is making way for new spaces for current residents and inevitable future additions. “We always try to take the call. Like last night. Who’s going to solve the problem of a steer running around a residential neighborhood and potentially hurting someone, right?” If someone hits a deer, people can get very hurt. If they hit a cow, it could easily turn deadly.
Just after this interview, Halamka and her staff were back to saving animals - this time, a pig named Danny Boy.