Duxbury seniors celebrate renewed social bonds by snuggling up to goats


DUXBURY – ‘Pet therapy’ and ‘baby shower’ took on new meaning last week at Duxbury Village, which has an unusual connection to two neighboring farms.

Kids from the adjacent Schortland Farm visited residents of Duxbury Village, which has garden houses and apartments for the elderly.

Village of Duxbury, a resident of Dick Cederberg holding a new friend, a baby goat from a nearby farm, Schortland Farm.

The village is connected by a wooded trail to two farms, Historic O’Neil Farm and Schortland Farm.

Susan Schortmann, owner of Schortland Farm, is also Treasurer of the O’Neil Farm Board of Directors and Director of the Business Office of Duxbury House, a nearby memory care facility.

Schortmann encourages the villagers to visit the goats as often as they like, as the goats are very social and love the attention. She keeps small bins on the path with food for the residents to feed the goats.

Village in Duxbury Resident Lynda Dickerson holding one of the kids from Schortland Farm.

The small herd is made up entirely of females and every year in early spring some of them are reproduced.

This summer, as pandemic restrictions were lifted, Village at Duxbury staff thought it would be fun to have a ‘shower’ for the mother goats.

Then the six kids arrived early, so Schortmann, her 8-year-old daughter Victoria and her mother, Marie Keefe, a Duxbury resident, took the babies to visit the village.

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They were “showered” with love by over 100 village residents, who were delighted to be together again. It was their first such gathering in large numbers.

“They were only 3 days old and just lovely,” said resident Lynda Dickerson. “Very cuddly. They would snuggle up to you and some would fall asleep.”

“It was a joy to host this non-traditional baby shower,” said Luke Kramer, executive director of The Village at Duxbury, which has a goat named after him. “COVID has presented many unique challenges for our seniors throughout the pandemic. Although our community has remained healthy, social distancing has left so many of us feeling isolated from each other. Seeing our residents come together again in this setting, having fun and socializing with kids, was an experience like no other.

Village at Duxbury Resident Lorrie Hall and goat breeder Victoria Schortmann of Schortland Farm.

Locals in the village of Duxbury celebrated the arrival of the goats with gifts and food: goat-shaped cookies, fruit with goat cheese and homemade blankets, and fresh spinach for the goats.

“I am grateful for all the wonderful gifts and such a fun day,” said Schortmann.

Valerie Sturtevant, Welch Senior Living, praised the “great connection to community farming” that Schortland and O’Neil Farms have provided to the village of Duxbury.

“The baby goats loved snuggling up to all the residents and the old people had a blast,” Sturtevant said.

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