Goat Peyton Place
Goats get a bad rep. The Bible has not one good thing to say about goats. If you’re a sheep, then Jesus is going to be there to shepherd you. But if you’re a goat, expect it to end badly for you.
Now, I never owned a sheep. I once worked with a guy who dealt with sheep. I found this out by remarking on his old, beat pickup truck that had posts in the corners of the bed to support four sheets of plywood. This essentially made the bed much bigger, so I asked him, “Why the big bed on your pickup?”. He replied, “My wife is into weaving.” So I asked, “So you have to transport looms?” “No”, he said, “It’s worse than that. She has to control what she weaves from the sheep on down. So the enhanced bed is to transport the sheep that she uses to make the special wool for her weaving.” So I asked an obvious question, “Dude, so you like sheep?” “No”, he said, “I’d walk a mile to kick a sheep.”
So either The Bible was full of it where sheep were concerned, or goats got a needlessly bad rap. Not that goats are angels. They can be very evil in their own way. Our first two official farm animals were goats. This is how we got rid of them.
This tale is not from my farm except for the very end. Our first “farm” animals were goats; two pigmy goats named Timmy and Jasper. Timmy was a dirty white goat whose only goal in life was to do whatever you didn’t want him to do at any given time. Jasper was a black and white pigmy goat who had a penchant for climbing. Jasper would often climb the roof of the spring house next to the farmhouse. He also had a great tolerance for 50,000 volts and roundly ignored the electric fence whenever it suited him. Timmy and Jasper were our first and last farm animals.
Back in the real world, I was working with a guy from Holland. His wife had a terrible allergic reaction to poison ivy, which apparently isn’t prevalent in the Netherlands. An avid reader, the wife came upon a solution: get yourself a goat that eats poison ivy, then drink her milk and you will develop an immunity. So she set out to accomplish this by purchasing two goats; a female and a “fixed” male. You really don’t want to have an un-“fixed” male around as these are among the most miserable of God’s creatures, and probably gave rise to the bad rep goats have. So the two grew up together and became best friends until the female was ready to breed. Of course, you have to breed the female and have a kid before she’ll give the milk that will save you from poison ivy, so when the time came, the female was taken to a farm (not mine, I only have fixed goats) where she could be impregnated and someday give the milk that would essentially cure poison ivy.
Un-fixed male goats or “Billy’s” are things you don’t want around you. Go back and read “Three Billy Goats Gruff” sometime and you’ll see what I mean. After a month in the presences of the billy goat, the female was both pregnant and surly. When they brought her back to my friends place, she was sullen. At the same time, the “fixed” male was feeling pretty low as he was basically abandoned due to his lack of working parts. The way he expressed his frustration was to deny the female food. “Go ahead and run off with some pretty-boy, see if I’ll let you eat.”
The female was pregnant and very hormonal. When denied food, she did what any soon-to-be mother would do and attacked. She got her horns underneath the male and raised her head up, effectively skewering him through the heart. When my buddy’s wife came out to feed them, she found the male stiff and dead and the female with her head covered in blood, pining for her lost friend. It was a scene right out of the goat version of Carrie.
So this is the story we heard at work. We had been keeping up with the goat soap opera over these long weeks. A homicidal pregnant goat gores her companion. She’ll never be convicted due to repeated sexual assaults and raging hormones, however, you now have one very unhappy, pregnant goat. We laughed and laughed at my buddy’s plight, until he told us he would soon be going to get a companion goat for the female. Here’s where I step in.
I told him, “Dude, I got two goats. You can have em scott free.” He says, “I only want one goat”. I say, “No good, it’s two or none.” He says, “What do you want for them?” I say, “Two are free. One is a thousand dollars.” So that settles it, I’m getting rid of the goats, baby!
We’re talking mid-March, the first big thaw. I’m out in the yard doing something and this brand new Chrysler Town & Country minivan drives up. My buddy comes out and tells me he’s there to pick up the goats. Now, I have a pickup truck with a special cage for transporting the goats, so I tell him to wait and I’ll run them out to his place tout suite. “Nope, the wife wants them now.”
So we’re talking about a brand new minivan with beige leather interior. “Where are you going to put the goats?”, I ask. He says, “In the way-back. I have cardboard down.” “Well, that would be great if they would stay back there.” “Don’t worry, my wife will sit backwards on the back seat to be sure they stay back there.” Yeah, his wife will play ‘goat goalie.
The pasture is a sea of mud. I catch Timmy and hook him to a lead, then pull him to the back of the van. The goat’s nature is to dig his feet in and resist, so he basically plows the land between the pen and the van. Half of the mud in the yard is now matted into Timmy. My buddy opens up the back of the van and says, “Honey, turn around and face the back and keep them back there”. An 88 lb woman vs. two freaked out, caked with mud goats. My money is on the goats. I went back to get Jasper, who, if possible, has even more mud. We each pick up a goat, and one-two-three, we drop them onto the cardboard in the cargo section of the van, then shut the back door. They stay on the cardboard for one nano-second, then knock his wife down and bound into the front of the van. He hurriedly jumps into the driver’s seat, hands me a bottle of wine, and drives off. By now, every square inch of the interior of the van is covered in mud. The last thing I see is Timmy’s face smashed against the side window in a smear of brown.
One of the best bottles of wine I ever drank.