Jessie Raymond: Goats crossed the road, and the line

It’s the end of an era at our little homestead, the Lazy J. For the first time in almost a decade, the property is goatless.We have sent our two goats, Jasper and Daphne, to live with a new family in Castleton.
Our decision to rehome them came this spring, after our eldest goat, Lucy, died. (It was harder on us than you might expect; I wore a black armband on my barn coat for weeks.) Suddenly, Jasper and Daphne decided they were not only free-range, but also free to leave the property.
This violated their terms of agreement, which stated that they were allowed to have the run of the place as long as they stayed on our side of the road. They had abided by this arrangement for years, but as soon as Lucy was gone, they went rogue.
All spring, “Goats across the road!” was the rallying cry at our house. Several times a day, hearing a horn honk or glimpsing out the window, we’d drop everything and run outside to flag traffic and chase the goats back and forth across the yellow line while they ignored us — or at least pretended not to understand why we were yelling and waving our arms. According to the neighbors, it was all quite amusing.
Oh, we’d had a fence, once upon a time. The goats didn’t let it bother them, though. They just jumped over it or slipped through it or, after we reinforced it, used bolt cutters to make a decent-sized hole. Eventually, they won. And since at that time they didn’t care to go far, we gave up and let them wander at will.
It wasn’t an ideal situation, but we found the goats so entertaining we sacrificed shrubbery and flower beds just so we could hang out with them. Goats are always up for a good time, although they aren’t much for following rules or showing remorse. In that sense, they’re kind of like dogs with psychopathic tendencies. They’re curious, so they follow you everywhere, though less out of companionship than out of what the kids these days are calling “FOMO,” fear of missing out.
You get used to having a goat at your side when you’re feeding the chickens or carrying in the groceries (they help by lightening your load, one bag of kale at a time). They make funny faces and hold their ears at odd angles, and you can’t help smiling. I mean, Daphne can do a triple backflip with a half-twist from a standing position, just for the hell of it. How can we stay mad at her for eating the forsythia?
For years, the goats’ charms outweighed their more annoying habits. But the new disregard for the road was a deal breaker.
While we wrestled with what to do, the goats spent much of the spring locked in the barn all day, with a few hours’ furlough in the afternoons. During their brief periods of freedom, they’d graze about the barns while I watched them from inside.Then, the moment I looked away, they’d sprint across the road to eat the neighbors’ grass — yes, regular old grass, the exact same stuff our yard is covered with.
It wasn’t safe. It’s one thing to have a goat climb in an open first-floor window from your porch once in awhile; people write children’s books about antics like that. It’s another thing to have a goat cause a five-car pileup with injuries.
It came down to two choices: We’d have to invest in some kind of goat-proof barrier (ideally, a 20-foot wall with razor wire on top, though it was financially and aesthetically repugnant) or we’d have to give the goats away. Ultimately we decided that if we couldn’t let the goats run free on the property, we’d rather find them a new home. So Friday, we said goodbye to our beloved cloven-hoofed pals.
Without the goats, the Lazy J is calm but lonely. While their absence opens up all kinds of possibilities for our future — maybe we can have flower gardens again, for instance, just like civilized people — my heart aches for the smiley, wily, forever inquisitive miscreants that used to roam around the yard and occasionally poop on the front walk. They got too adventurous for their own good, that’s all.
According to the old riddle, it’s chickens that cross the road.
Leave it to goats to want to get in on that action.

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