You can't think about goats without a smile coming to your face. They are so enjoyable to be around. This page is about some of the animals who have blessed our lives over the years. Enjoy. . . .
We have an acquaintance who is an elderly, retired military man who also has a genuine fondness for goats. It was not unusual to see him driving around in his old Volkswagen bus with a couple of goats sticking their heads out the window. He would stop by from time to time to talk about goat things and was a gentle but very dignified old guy. He had pretty serious heart trouble of some sort. Eventually his doctor made him get rid of his goats because of the effort to take care of them.
This was very upsetting to him, to say the least. His whole life had revolved around his goats. During one of his visits, he asked if we had any goats for sale. Of course we did, as he well knew. He said that life without goats just was not worth living, no matter what the doctor said.
At the time we had a pair of little does who were sisters and very, very affectionate and we knew that they would have an excellent home with him. So off they went in the old VW bus, a happier man you'd never find.
He stopped by in a couple of weeks just bubbling over with smiles and obvious good health. His little eight year old grandson was living with him and was a clear favorite of his grandpa. He said that one day he had looked up on the hillside and saw the boy curled up sound asleep in the grass with both of the little goats huddled tight against him. "You know," he said quietly, "that one moment made me sure that I did the right thing, no matter how long I may live."
Postscript: "JJ" passed away May 15, 1999 at the age of 89.
This is Claire. We call her "The world’s greatest living thing." And not without reason. She lived to be 15 years old and toward the end was in every sense a very geriatric goat. Over the years she did so much to earn her pampered place in retirement.
Although in her younger days she raised numerous kids of her own, she was always surrounded by many of the babies of the other does. It was not unusual to see her lying in the pasture completely surrounded by 10 or 15 babies. In fact she served as foster mom to a few that either favored her to their own moms or were rejected. She was of so tranquil a disposition that there is rarely any fighting when she was in the group. When we had a fight between two does, we could safely put one of the fighters with her in her barn and everything would calm down right away.
She loved to help take care of sick babies. When one of our wethers had a broken leg and he could not be with the more active ones. So, of course, he stayed with Claire. He slept all cuddled up with her and she was happy to have a companion.
At the end she was still able to think a little bit, but rather slowly. But once she made up her mind that she was going to do something, you’d better not get in her way. She would, with her very stiff and crooked neck navigate at an oblique angle toward where she was planning to go. She had a great fondness for grape leaves. When I'd go out at about 4:00 AM to start feeding, she was frequently up and waiting to see if I remembered to bring her some. She hated being dragged up on the milk stand to have her hooves trimmed. She frequently got too mad to eat her grain and will run (or better, stumble) back down to her barn.
Claire was able to tell if one of us was having a bad day. When this happened, she would come and lean against us very quietly, just "being there" like any good counselor should.
She was also very much of a hypochodriac. She loved to be doctored and never had to be restained for any treatment. We could just walk up to her and give her a shot without any fuss whatsoever.
In one of my former lives I was a social worker with a caseload of foster children, many of whom were placed in homes in rural settings.
Foster moms are a special breed of people with hearts as big as the whole universe. But even the best of them have their limits as I found out to my chagrin one afternoon. When I picked up the phone I heard the familiar voice of one of our better foster mothers, "You can come get him; his bags are on the front porch." Now this was a real problem: I'd have to find another place to put him. Then I'd have to go to his school, take him out of class and explain to him that once again, he was moving to a new home. What on earth could have prompted this severe action on her part? It is hard for someone outside "the system" to realize that most foster children are moved from home to home in an endless circuit of grief and rejection. The social worker tries very hard to prevent moves for trivial reasons, knowing that even further damage is done to the child with each relocation. So, in my most professional voice, I asked her to tell me what had led to this irrevocable decision. By then I thought I had heard about every reason, justified and unjustified, for wanting the child removed.
After a long silence, she said, "It's the goat."
"Yes, the goat." And then the longest silence you've ever heard.
Finally, "Do you want to tell me what about the goat?"
After more silence, "Well, he's ruined it for breeding. It was our best doe."
"What do you mean?" I stupidly asked.
"You know what I mean!"
There's no law that says everything here has to be about goats! Piggy was our neighbor's black Persian cat who occasionally came over to our house to visit. The owner one day decided that he no longer wanted Piggy and talked another neighbor into taking him about ten miles up into the woods to send him to the great beyond. Since we always have several cats, we have a "kitty door" in one of the kitchen windows so they can come and go at will. One evening as we were having dinner, Piggy comes through the cat door. He had come home to us. It took quite a long time for the bullet hole in his head to heal, but he was a big friend for a long time thereafter.
One of the uses that our goats have served over the years is to provide the milk to raise baby calves which are bought at the local auction. Ivanhoe was one of these, an almost all white Holstein. As happens from time to time when you raise bottle fed calves, Ivanhoe got the runs...and he really got the runs. Then on top of this he got a fever. And his fever went up and up and up. When calves have high fevers for a long period of time they tend to lose their hair. This happened to poor little Ivanhoe. Being white, the skin underneath was a tender bright pink. He eventually lost ALL his hair; but he recovered, in all his very pink glory and it seemed like forever before he grew back his hair.
Connie was a bummer lamb who was one of many we were raising in the living room one year. (Don't try it!) She got the squirts so bad that she became severely debilitated. In lambs one of the results of prolonged diarrhea is blindness. So little Connie couldn't see a thing, bumped into all the furniture, squirted all over the place and was so weak as to be near death. I was getting too tired to stay up with her any longer and needed to get some sleep. So Connie and I cuddled up on the couch and went to sleep. I really wondered if she'd lived through the night. For some reason we both slept very sound and when we woke up in the morning, she could see and no longer had the runs. So if you have a bad case of diarrhea in your herd, you now know how to cure it.
Wimpy was a little baby duck who never developed the ability to walk. So we made him a little scooter and he learned to get around just fine in that. Occasionally, he would tip over and have to wait until someone came to his rescue.
Like Wimpy the duck, Nadia was a lamb who could not walk and she also had a walker and strolled around in that.
This was a calf who developed navel ill, with an abscessed herniated navel, swollen joints, high fever, some hair loss and all that. Knowing that things were pretty desparate, I gave high and frequent doses of anitbiotics. I can't remember all the details, but someone told me that this could cause a kidney problem and then I noticed that his urine was real clear, so I started testing it and it was close to pure water, just further proof that I had ruined his kidneys. We needed a blood sample for more detailed testing. Since I have to be at work long before sunrise in the morning, this meant drawing blood in complete darkness, something I am not very skilled at in full daylight. Somehow I got a sample and it showed normal kidney function. But the urine values continued to be grossly abnormal and we never figured out why. He grew to butcher size and I eventually gave up the testing.
In case you haven't noticed, some cats just love milking. But Jack was a little special. He could do all the normal "catch the squirting stream tricks". But he loved to sit under the milk stand and ocassionally take swats at the dangling teats. This of course would send the doe straight through the roof. The goat's milk was put into calf nipple bottles and Jack's job was to keep down the foam so more milk could be added until the bottles were full. He would ride to and from the barn on your shoulder.
Unfortunately, Jack also taught us a lot about toxoplasmosis. It was from him that this disease went through our complete herd. This causes abortion, weak babies and sometimes death in goats. Our spirits got pretty low that year. If you let your cats hang out with the goats, it might be a good idea to get them tested. (It can also cause abortion in humans.)
Hildie was our favorite goat of all time. She is the one pictured in the standing position on the "Pictures" page. One year I developed a bad case of pneumonia and she got sick and died while I was sick. It was very sad because I was too sick to figure out what to do for her.
Brucie was a calf who could not walk. Several times a day his mom would come and stand over him so that he could nurse. We tried every trick we could think of to get him up and going, but nothing worked.
Buffer was a cute little buff-colored cat who got hit by a car. His back was broken near the base of the tail, which was removed by the vet. Shortly thereafter, he developed epilepsy and lived on phenobarbitol for the rest of his life. It was not unusual to have him flopping and foaming on the floor, but he was always there to take care of me whenever I was sick. He would stand and cry for his pill every morning if it was late.
This is about a calf who developed an abdominal hernia. As should be very obvious by now, we cannot take every "hangnail case" to the vet, so I proceeded to attempt it myself. Our vet said to starve him for two or three days and hang him upside down from the barn rafters, which isn't easy if he weighs fove or six hundred pounds. But we did all this. Then I made the cut through the skin. While sewing up the hernia in the abdominal lining, the needle broke off and the largest part of it went sliding down into the bowels. Panic, to say the last! I figured I had better find the needle and remove it. So I made a big slice and started digging through all the intestines. When, in a state of complete distress, I decided that I was not going to find it, I sewed him back up, let him down from the rafters and let him have his first meal in quite some time. We butchered him several months later and the needle was no where to be found.
We occasionally buy a few baby chicks to raise. One of these turned out to be a blind rooster. He easily learned to find his food and water and was really quite a bit of fun to have around.