The farm at the Brattleboro Retreat was started 180 years ago as part of a radical new idea: that mentally ill people should be treated fairly. Useful employment and open-air exercise would help heal them, and would also provide food and operating expenses for the hospital. Now run by a nonprofit, the Retreat Farm’s Barnyard lets kids and their adults experience the old-fashioned joys of farm life — hunting for eggs, feeding a one-ton ox, or holding a day-old kid under Mama Goat’s watchful eye.
Best friends and 9-year-olds, Lily Smith (left) and Morgan Aither love being together and love animals. Before they left the chicken barn they had befriended and named just about all of the chickens. They were fearless, even when it came to holding the big old rooster.