My friend had a goat whom she loved. She named it. Bestowed attention on it. Fed it way too much grain and let the goat have the run of the place. It would visit her inside the house and when in a good mood, return her affections in kind. The thing is, the goat wasn’t often in a good mood. In fact, despite being a female, it was downright rammy. It got to the point where you couldn’t park your car in the laneway because it would dent it. Bending over wasn’t a good option either because said goat was very adept at using her horns.
The owner, animal-lover that she was, made many excuses for her rambunctious nanny. The most amusing was saying her goat was “just frustrated” because she was a full-grown she-goat without a he-goat to relieve her natural urges.
I couldn’t wait for the next installment of goat stories when next I was so fortunate to bump into her. Until the day came that my friend needed stitches because the goat was particularly frustrated. There was to be a parting of ways.
The owner had asked my advice once or twice. I’m a dairy farmer rather than a goat farmer but our family has had pet pygmy goats for decades and the girls are currently raising 10 billy goats as a summer money-making project.
I knew my friend wouldn’t want to hear what I had to say but say it I did. “Goats,” I admonished. “Should never be tamed.”
You may argue and please do but I firmly believe goats are obnoxious by their very nature. Their natural curiousity is adorable when they are kids but that cute inquisitiveness turns into aggressive domination as they get older.
Tame your goat, and you create an animal (a pointy-horned animal) that is insufferably pestiferous.
Such was her goat and alas, their relationship came to an abrupt end. Of the 12 goats on our property only one understands the rules: you can have as much freedom as you like as long as a) you don’t eat my garden, b) you don’t hurt my kids and c) you don’t constantly bleat.
The pygmys understood this. They were like movie stars: there to admire and enjoy their antics but please, no touching. It was Joey who blew the rules out of the water. He arrived in t he arms of Son #3, who was working on my brother’s dairy goat farm. Quite possibly the cutest Nubian I’d ever seen in the arms of my handsome son and reason was lost, both with pleading eyes, and I was lost. What could I do?
In the beginning, there were many happy hours watching Son#3 and Joey run around the lawn. Joey followed him like a puppy and with his speckled, floppy ears and obvious delight in jumping about in random displays of sheer exuberance, what mother’s heart wouldn’t be swayed? Then Joey got bigger. Delightful turned into disastrous faster than we all anticipated. One day he ate my tamarack tree down to the trunk. Next he ate up my River Birch. Walk with a pail in your hand and his head was instantly in it, pushing and ramming. He would stick his head into the chicken feeder and though he got stuck every time, the greedy beggar never stopped angling for a good nibble of layer feed. Then Joey started bleating constantly if his Pygmy goat companion was even a short distance away from him.
Why, then, I chose to bring 10 billy goats home for my girls to raise for meat is something I still can’t figure out. However, we discussed outright that these were NOT pets. They would get to 55 pounds and we would sell them.
The problem is we got them so young they had to be bottle fed. That meant two girls were sitting in a pen with 10 super cute babies frolicking around them. Later, we mixed milk replaced in yellow pails to dump into their feeder pail. The imprinting they did on the girls seemed to switch to the yellow pails. So now, when we enter the pasture to top off their water with the yellow pails, we are engulfed in goat.
We try, each day, to sneak into the pasture while the goats are lounging in their calf hutch. Once, and only once, did we make it into their enclosure to fill their water bucket without being detected.
Usually, it’s a gong-show as we try to walk with goats all over us, jumping, squeezing between our legs, licking our legs and trying to get at the pail contents. No patience! Sometimes we literally can’t move because the goats are so tightly pressed all around us.
None of us like feeding the goats anymore (though, of course, we do it!)
Choose your farm pets wisely and take my advice ... stick to horses, dogs, cats and even pigs. See a cute goat and you will be SO tempted.
Walk away! Just walk away.◊