Jessie Raymond: One good goat deserves another

So we got another goat.
Kind of an odd choice for a family that has found one goat to be just slightly over their ideal Goats Per Household quotient.
But you can’t have just one goat, because goats are herd animals and want to be around their own kind. Years ago we took in three goats out of pity but now we’re down to one, and that’s a problem. Sure, Lucy’s been fine on her own this summer, but with winter coming we couldn’t bear the thought of her alone in the goat barn on long, cold, dark nights, with no one to play cribbage with.
We’ve been told, “You know goats are a pain. You only have one left. Do the obvious thing.” Good point. So we looked into sending her to boarding school.
Alas, the financial aid fell through. So then we considered giving her away.
But how could we? Lucy’s a member of our family as much as your dog is one of yours. And Lucy is better than a dog in many ways: She doesn’t bark at cars, chase the chickens, roll in dead animals or throw up on the new rug. And when she does do something bad, she doesn’t put her head down and act all ashamed. She defies us with pride. I respect that.
Still, we’d give her away in a second if we thought her new owners would confer pet status on her. But they’d probably judge her by her cloven hooves and treat her like a farm animal. She’d be mortified.
So, after months of deliberation, we recently adopted a dwarf Nigerian goat born this spring on a homestead in Perkinsville. We were given strict instructions to keep him in a small pen for a few days and hand-feed him until he got used to us and to his surroundings.
This lasted 12 hours.
In true goat form, little Jasper made a jailbreak the first morning. I woke up and looked out the window to see him prancing around the driveway with Lucy.
Two goats may be more trouble than one. But as maddening as they can be, goats — especially baby dwarf goats — are so impossibly cute that it’s hard to stay angry at them. Proof: I found myself smiling and wagging a finger at Jasper when he jumped onto the back porch railing and ate the geraniums out of the planter I had managed to keep away from Lucy all summer.
Lucy is as tickled with him as we are. He follows her wherever she goes and she treats him like a little pet of her own. She rubs her face on him and nibbles his ears. Occasionally she rams him in the side, sending him flying. (I don’t know what it means, but he doesn’t seem to mind.)
What makes goats so fun to watch? A lot if it has to do with their springiness. They can be walking along like a normal four-legged creature and then suddenly they pop up into the air. They can’t just run, either; it has to be flashy, with a few good enthusiastic kicks, giving the impression that however you run, you’re doing it wrong. The next time you get worked up about global carbon dioxide levels or that noise your car is making, watch some goats frolic. You’ll feel better.
Now, it wasn’t long ago I was complaining about the evil tom turkey terrorizing us in the yard. Doing chores gets complicated when you’ve got a giant bird rushing at you while making “must kill the human” noises and repeatedly leaping at your face with outstretched wings.
It wasn’t half as entertaining as it sounds.
That turkey is now in the freezer and we have Jasper instead. Whatever problems he may cause — mostly shortening the lifespan of my flowers — he has changed the mood on our property, replacing the hatred and menacing we felt under the reign of that turkey with an atmosphere of pure joy. Where once I had to tiptoe across the lawn, 2-by-4 held high, scanning the horizon for Mr. Death With Feathers, I can now relax and smile at two carefree goats bouncing around the yard, stopping intermittently to defoliate the shrubbery.
Jasper’s arrival, however, has created an endless goat loop. Someday Lucy will die of old age, Jasper will be all alone, and we’ll have to find him a companion. We will never again be goatless.
I’m OK with this. My geraniums, on the other hand, are going to take it hard.

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