Difficult Kiddings

Everyone who knows me knows what my favorite time of year is – kidding season! There’s a lot to love about it – newborn goats, happy loving mothers, the excitement of seeing what years of work has produced. However, for all the good bits, kidding season is absolutely the most difficult time of year.

It’s exhausting – you work all hours, every single day. It’s draining – you’re continuously dirty and on your feet. And it’s heartbreaking – the act of labor and birth is dangerous and it doesn’t always go the way you’d want it too.

I’ve told some kidding stories before, for example Bumble’s birth, which was difficult and frightening, though it had a happy ending. Just recently I shared a fun story about bringing a doe inside to kid. Some ways back, there is a story of delivering my first set of quints during my first season on the dairy. Through the years, I’ve experienced so many kiddings that I’ve gained quite a few interesting little tales, so I thought I would share some of the difficult kiddings with you.

A very early kidding that sticks out in my mind is my first giant single buckling that needed to really be pulled. The doe was an undersized Nubian, and she just couldn’t push that boy out. Thankfully she got him through her hips, so he could come out, but she needed help to get him all the way. It was the first time I’d had to pull so hard on a kid, and I was terrified I would rip out his legs or rip the doe in half. Thankfully, all ended very well and once he was out, he jumped to his feet and begged to nurse.

Compared to the Nigerian Dwarf, the La Mancha have far fewer issues during kidding, but they are definitely not immune to dystocia. When the late Nissa was ready to give birth, I watched her get up and down several times, push, then she seemed to rethink the whole process and actually went to sleep. Concerned, I decided to do an internal check – I have come to know now that a doe that gets up and down over and over often has a kid badly positioned. Sure enough the only thing I could find was a big blockage. Exploring a little further, I realized what I had – a kid sideways, blocking the canal (it was the rib cage I could feel across the opening to the canal), with another kid t-boning her headfirst, preventing the breech kid from shifting. It took some wrangling to get them straightened out – I had to push the second kid back before slowly shifting the first kid sideways until I had to hind legs. Taking hold of those, she slid right out easily, and the second followed up impatiently. They were fine once they were out, and we dubbed them Traffic Jam and Citation.

A similar instance happened with one of my favorite does, Stormy. She delivered three kids without much issue, but when I palpated her stomach after those three, there was clearly another kid – a large one. An internal check found the same problem – an immense wall of flesh with seemingly no end. This one was very stressful – the kid was so huge I was worried the entire time I was slowly shifting him around, and I eased him very carefully out of the canal once I’d straightened him out. Alas, the kid was dead by the time I succeeded. He was twice the size of his three siblings, a real titan of a buckling.

Only once in my career (knock on wood) have I been unable to get a kid out. The doe was a very dainty yearling, bred too early. She had a single buck, and though she forced his massive forelegs out, when I felt inside, I could tell this was an incredibly large kid. I got his nose lined up properly and gave it a try, but it was quickly apparent he was not going to fit through her hips. He was still alive, so I sent her to the vet’s, where they performed a cesarean section on her. Both survived the surgery, and the buckling, though a little swollen from being squeezed in utero so hard, recovered fully. Sadly the doe, despite being bright and alert after surgery, passed away the next morning.

Sometimes an older doe who looks great during breeding season can just not keep up with the demands of kids in her aging body and when the time comes to labor, they struggle to find the energy and run a higher risk of ketosis and other metabolic issues. One sweet old lady named Jojo was obviously ready to kid, but labor just would not start. With a little medicinal encouragement, we slowly got the process started, but Jojo just would not push. She laid there, oblivious to the fact that her cervix was open and she needed to get her kids out. In the end, I went in and slowly extracted each kid myself. Not once did the doe push, and her muscle tone was slack and loose the entire time. I succeeded in producing three live squeaky kids, and Jojo’s lightbulb finally turned on. She passed the placenta with no issue, and adopted and raised another kid and lived several more years before her natural end – and even secretly kidded twins years into retirement, the naughty girl.

Though this year isn’t over just yet, there haven’t been too many exciting stories from it – birthings have gone smoothly and easily, with very little need for interference. There were a couple of kids with their heads turned back, which are always a pain to straighten out. Mandarin, a hefty Mini Mancha, attempted to deliver two kids at once, presenting with hind feet. I gently traced along the legs until I sorted out which went to which, and pushed the bigger kid back a little. The smaller kid shot out immediately, and two siblings followed. Almost too easy!

The most exciting – and terrifying – delivery of the year was not even a doe from our farm. I have made many goat friends in the area, and sometimes they turn to me for help when they need it. When I received a message about a doe in stalled labor that needed help at 9:30 one night, I didn’t hesitate – I told them to load her up and bring her over. I turned on the dairy parlor lights and put on a heater (it was cold!) and got my supplies ready. The doe arrived and we brought her in. Her little canal was so tiny that I wasn’t even sure I could get into her. I could feel the hard point of a kid – a hock I soon discovered. Once I’d eased my way in, I was able to hook a finger around the joint and gently slide the leg into the canal. With a little tug, a tiny underdeveloped buckling came out. He took a couple gasping breaths, but despite our best efforts, he died quickly.

I could clearly palpate another kid in the doe, but when I swept the uterus, all I could feel was a massive placenta. A goat has two “horns” to her uterus – two pockets, so to speak. Kids can be in either horn, and there are often kids in both. But I could not find the entrance to the second horn. I was getting nervous as this point, the doe was standing quietly, moaning and shivering, and her owner held her gently as I worked. Finally, underneath the placenta, I found the second horn, and there was definitely a kid within. Something was absolutely wrong with this kid, I could tell from the moment my fingers touched it. It took several minutes of positioning and tugging at it to even get it to the entrance. It was so bloated and decayed that the skin pulled free from the flesh as I maneuvered it through the canal.

When the dead kid’s cord broke while still inside, the doe gushed blood all over the floor. I was horrified, certain her uterus had torn – a certain death sentence, but I knew too that it was possibly from the kid itself, or its umbilical cord to the placenta, which can bleed heavily when severed. I finally pulled free the dead kid – its head was deformed and it had obviously died some days ago and began to decompose. It’s quite probably that this kid had caused the doe to go into labor before she was ready. I quickly wrapped it up in towels and treated the doe with everything I could think of to keep her strong and pull her through such a difficult firth birthing. I’m pleased to say that she recovered and seems to be no worse for the wear now, a month or so later.

Kidding, especially in the numbers we do, is exhausting. It’s both physically and mentally draining. We do not take any days off, and are often up late at night to help one doe and early the next morning to help another. Kids need to be cared for, fed, disbudded, vaccinated. Moms need their own medicines and hoof trimmings, and we also begin to train the first timers to be milked. Of course, regular chores don’t stop just because we’re busy with kidding! There is still hay to be unloaded, feeders to be filled, buckets to be scrubbed – the list is endless. When you’re exhausted and a highly anticipated set of kids arrives stillborn or you lose a doe, it can push you to the edge of goat keeping.

The rewards are what keep you playing the great goat game. For any bad that happens, there are beautiful newborn kids that thrive and bounce across the barn to lighten your heart. These new little lives were created by you, and for me especially, represent years of planning and thought. They are my new little friends, and their futures are bright with possibility.

The Goat that Held a Grudge

As we all know, most animals aren’t really capable of holding grudges, but I know at least one goat who is excellent at it.

Mudslide was already an adult when I came to the dairy, one of the only goats sporting a set of full horns. The story went that as a baby, she was mistaken for a buckling, and by the time it was discovered, her horns were too well grown to disbud, so she kept them.

While some folks prefer horns on their goats, we are decidedly anti-horn for a multitude of reasons, and when Mudslide broke the hip of another goat, a decision had to be made.

Sell her, or remove her horns.

Now, I have removed the horns on several adult goats. It’s usually done using the same bands one would use the castrate male goats, placed around the base of the horn and left to slowly constrict and stop blood flow to the horn, until it finally comes loose. It’s an unpleasant way of doing things, I would much rather disbud a kid than band an adult’s horns, but sometimes it must be done. Surgery to remove horns can be done, but is unfortunately quite risky as goats do not handle anesthesia very well.

The last goat I’d done was a nice little Pygmy mix who made it through the procedure with flying colors, leaving a nice head. Not so successful was a big Nubian mix, who I did too early – the horns continued to grow, and though one came off perfectly, the second left quite an impressive knob that stands on her head to this day. I keep telling myself to take it off, but it’s one of those chores that gets pushed back over and over again. However, horns are truly a ticking time bomb – I’ve learned that lesson over and over. When another doe with horns got herself caught up when out browsing, I knew it was time to decide.

Mudslide was queen of the herd at the time – those thick horns gave her an advantage none of the other goats could hope to match. I’ll never forget how Mudslide would stand at the dairy door with a several foot radius around her – no other goat dared to go in until Mudslide had, and she guarded her privilege fiercely. I knew from experience that taking away her horns would change her entire perspective, and I was regretful of that, but it had to be done. As much as I dislike to do it, I’ve yet to regret removing a goat’s horns – but I have regretted more than once not doing so.

So when the day came, I put Mudslide on the milkstand and I carefully put the bands around the base of her horns, wrapping them with tape afterward to protect it. Within hours, you could tell she was uncomfortable, and as the days went by, I watched her position slip further and further as she could no longer use her horns to be an aggressor. However the banding went as perfectly as one could hope for – slower is better, as there is a hole that leads to the sinus cavity beneath the horn, and it needs time to heal over before the horn comes off. Eventually they dropped from her head within days of each other. I found the first horn in the barn, and the second one of the dogs brought to the house, where I confiscated it.

Mudslide no doubt had a terrible headache and her position remained low for several weeks, as to be expected. What I didn’t expect was her change in attitude towards me. Mudslide has always been a very friendly doe with people and never had any issues being caught or handled. But after I banded her horns, I could no longer touch her. While others could pat her, Mudslide shied away from my hands. She’d kick at me on the milkstand, stamping her hind feet in protest if I was milking. Catching her for any reason meant a chase, and she’d squirm and complain once I’d caught her.

More than once I’d catch her glaring at me from a distance, warily watching my every move. Where every other goat had quickly forgotten and forgiven, Mudslide knew I had caused this discomfort. She knew I was responsible not just for the loss of her coveted horns, but her loss in position. I’d never seen a goat hold such a grudge before.

As her head healed, Mudslide’s attitude healed with it. Before long she was fighting her way back to the top, and the other goats clearly remembered her reign of terror and gave way. Soon enough she was top of the Mini Manchas once more, where she still remains. But she hasn’t forgotten.

Years later we have a decent relationship, after lots of work and treats. I’m allowed to touch her nose or milk her without troubles, but I can always see that glint of distrust as she moves out of my reach anytime she thinks I want to catch her. I regret this distance between us, but I don’t regret what I did – the few goats with horns that were left on the farm are gone now, as Mudslide would have been if I didn’t remove her weapons. I’d rather have a grumpy Mudslide than no Mudslide at all. Both of her horns are still on my desk to this day, a reminder of what a warrior she once was.

For the rest of my life I’ll remember the goat that was smart enough to connect me to what she went through; the goat who held a grudge.

Back Bedroom Babies

Today we were pleased to welcome the first kids of the 2018 season (they couldn’t wait for the New Year!) with a pretty brutal cold front rolling in, so it seemed like a great time to share the story of having babies right in a bedroom of our home.

Early in our goat days, we had just moved to a little farm in an obscure town in Texas. Our home was a “fixer upper” with its share of problems, and we were pretty unprepared when we had a nasty cold snap roll in. At the time, I’d severely cut our herd down, leaving us with just two does – Hope and a sweet little doe named Rudy. Hope was due to kid any day, and our temporary goat shelter was far from adequate for newborn kids. I was fraught with worry – we had to find a solution, and quickly.

The next morning ice was hanging from our kitchen faucet and the two does were huddled in their little doghouse, so I made a decision. The back room in our home was only used for storage, so I sent my husband to town to pick up tarps and shavings. I moved out the dusty boxes, and we spread the tarps out on the floor and then covered them with shavings. Hope and Rudy came inside without hesitation and we walked them to the back room and gave them hay and water. They seemed to like their new digs, peering out the window with interest and making little nests in the shavings. I for one was delighted with how easy it was to check on them, and half of me wished I could turn the room into a permanent goat stall – but we all know that keeping goats inside long term is a bad idea!

Hope, a very smart doe, apparently enjoyed it too and decided to hold onto her babies a little longer. She and Rudy sat in the back bedroom in comfort as our pipes all froze in the wretched cold, then cracked and burst. They gleefully drank expensive bottled water from their bucket as we wriggled underneath the house, pulling out old brittle pipes and replacing it with new.

When the sun returned and began to thaw out our frozen little farm, Hope finally went into labor.

Her two little boys came quickly and without issue – Hope was always a very good birther and mother. Cute as buttons, they looked exactly like her first set of kids with me, and it wasn’t long before they were up and bouncing around in the shavings.

A few days later, all the pipes were replaced and delivering water once more, and Hope’s babies were strong enough to go outside for the first time. Hope and Rudy reluctantly left the back room, clip-clopping down the hallway and out the back door, the two bucklings dancing along behind them making little squeaks of happiness.

Those two little boys were like a bright ray of sunshine on our farm, and when they were old enough, they went to an amazing home as pets, and I was able to keep up with them and their adventures for many years – at one point they even came back and stayed for a time while their owner was on vacation.

Hope was an amazing goat and she lives on in my memories of little adventures like this. She taught me so much, and her granddaughter Minx has so much of her personality. I still miss her, but her bloodline will live on as long as I can keep it going – let’s “hope” Minx gives us the next generation this year.

Happy New Year my friends – I hope you’re looking forward to all the new adventures that 2018 will bring as much as I am.

Five Years

The first thing I want to say in this post is that it’s more of a personal blog post, not one about the goats so much themselves, though of course they have their place within. Please feel free to skip it and wait for the next goat story if you like!

It’s been five years since our home burned down just before Christmas in 2012. I felt like I am ready to talk a little bit about the years that followed, and the changes in my life, because they’re pretty big changes. Of course, to understand them properly, I need to talk a little bit about what my life was like before the fire.

Life was really different then. Through a mix of stubbornness and hardwork, my husband and I bought a little “fixer-upper” house on three acres in a tiny town in Texas. The house was way more than we could handle, as we’d find out, but livable, so we scraped along. We had our little goat herd, and a couple ponies, and a variety of poultry. Our dog pack was big, filled with all manner of dogs, all of them as dearly loved as pets can be. Especially the oldest two, who had been with Steven and I since before we were married, and were at our sides through some of the most difficult times we experienced.

At the time the only work I had was what freelance work I could pick up on the Internet. I built websites, wrote code, painted models – whatever I could do to pay for my animal’s feed. I have always been very good at making ends meet and finding solutions where there don’t appear to be any. So we lived well enough honestly, even if our home was not very attractive. I spent a great deal of time on the Internet, just as I do now, but my actual life outside of the computer was very different.

I unfortunately live with a number of health problems that affect my everyday life. For a long time I would ignore issues until they began a major incident, only to repeat the cycle. Depression is a hard horse to ride, and I was no different nor stronger than many like me, who give in and let it run their life. I had no “spark” then. I just lived through each day, only getting up because the animals needed me. I’d sit in my chair and brood over wrong doings from the past, and online I was more confrontational and aggressive in debates. I would blow up at my dear husband for ridiculous reasons, leading to fights that left us both heartbroken and angry. My physical health suffered terribly as well, both from the stress and from preexisting conditions, and I let some of those build up so badly that they can never really be repaired. I just lived with it. There were days the pain from something or other was so bad I would pace back and forth, wishing for death.

I am a stubborn creature, even now I think. So we continued to live. When I met Honey Doe Farm, I remember wishing that I could make a living out of the goats. For now they paid a little bit of their keep with kids, but for the most part they were a money pit I worked hours online to pay for. When the farm owners invited me to come help butcher turkeys, I was delighted. I knew how bad I had become – I knew my life as it was was unhealthy and destructive. A part of me desperately wanted to find a better balance, and new friends that offered work that could help ease some of the burden was a great start. From there I started working more and more with HDF, selling goats for them, coming out to help with chores, and our relationship began to really grow. As I watched the dairy being built, I couldn’t help but try to casually mention a couple times that I “knew someone who would love to work here.”

Steven worked in management at a grocery store 40 minutes away, which meant I was alone most of the time. Our neighborhood wasn’t very good – there were drive-by shootings, stabbings, and unfriendly neighbors everywhere one looked. It was very nerve-wracking to be alone all the time, in what felt like a very open vulnerable area. HDF had been very receptive to the idea of us continuing to work there, but there was another obstacle – being visually impaired, I cannot drive. And honestly in my opinion, someone in charge of so many animals needs to be much closer to be effective in caring properly for them. I floated the idea of moving to the dairy with the farm owners during one of our get togethers, and they jumped at the idea! I was so excited. We began to work on an apartment for us to live in, and at home we packed up in preparation. It was slow going, we didn’t feel the need to rush. Towards the end, we loaded up the goats and moved them to the dairy first, which was tough to do, trust me! Later I would be eternally grateful that we moved them so soon.

The day our home burned to the ground I was at HDF. We were doing copper bolusing and vaccinating the pregnant does. It was a great day! When Steven got off work, he came to pick me up and Francine (one of the farm owners) said I could go home, but I insisted on staying – I wanted to help them finish. You can’t help but wonder how things would have changed if I had gone home on time… but I do my best to never dwell on that. How could I have known?

The neighbors called when we were on our way home. The rest of the ride was spent in terror, and we could see the inferno of our home as we made our way down the bumpy dirt road. I knew right away my dogs were gone. Our cats too, mostly likely. I remembered with horror that one of the ponies had been stalled right up against the house. I’ll never forget standing in my front yard watching the fire dance merrily in the night, destroying everything I’d managed to hold onto through the years. Everything we’d worked for. Everything.

Neighbors we knew well took us home and fed us – and gave us a few drinks – and a place to sleep off the shock. How I cried that night. My babies were gone. Killed in the most horrible manner. Alone, terrified. To this day I cannot think of them for long, nor speak of them. Even now I can’t stop myself from crying, I can feel the iron grip of grief on my chest, and so I will move on.

The ponies survived – the mustang tore the fencing down and took his friends with him. Neighbors caught them and put them in a pasture for safekeeping. Many of our poultry were not so lucky, and those that survived I gave to one of the helpful neighbors. HDF showed up shortly afterward and met us at the ruin of our home. We picked through the remains, taking what we could. Only one thing actually came out of the house itself – a clay turtle my father gave me years ago. We pulled down fencing to take back to the dairy. As we walked around, one of our two cats came over, unharmed but shivering. The other cat was no where to be seen, but my husband would find her in the rubble a week later and brought her to the dairy.

We moved to the dairy that night. Friends showed up with their trailer and the ponies, bless them, loaded up while wearing just bits of string and rope, in pitch darkness no less, onto a strange huge trailer. That night as we sat with the Honey Doe Farm family, the entire world felt surreal.

Little did I know the entire world was rallying behind me online, and oh how they rallied. People were generous in their donations to get us back on our feet, though I felt very strange about the entire thing. To this day, we most certainly still use much of what was donated, and I often think of the person if I know who it was. Many people sent us beautiful cards, and I kept every one and saved them in a box.

The fire caused a year long bout of depression where I felt completely detached from the world. I could not stop thinking of everything that could not be replaced – I still think of some of those items often. I would break down and cry while working if no one was around, and more than once I couldn’t control myself and broke down in front of the farm owners. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing HDF was handling the aftermath of the entire ordeal. They opened their home to our without question. They were taking a huge chance on this budding partnership just as we were, and instead of getting the fairly stable couple we had promised, they ended up with two severely damaged and shell-shocked people. We had some bumps in the road, but in the end I think we all feel very secure and comfortable as a family. I cannot express the appreciation and gratitude I have for them all. For everyone, in fact, who stood up underneath us to lift us up when we were at the lowest point in lives full of low points.

So all of that talking to get to the actual subject I was going for! I hope you can forgive all the rambling.

While the fire will remain as one of most of the awful things that has ever happened, there can be no denying that it played a part in the change in my life, though the dairy itself is the true catalyst. When I came to the dairy, I was quite unhealthy. I went from caring to a handful of goats to over a hundred overnight, and it was like jumping headfirst into ice cold water. Kidding season came before the smell of smoke had even faded from my jacket, and I buried myself in it, using it to block out the endless internal blackhole that swallowed all of my emotions besides grief. More than once I worked myself to exhaustion and then just cried for hours, as quietly as I could so not to upset anyone else in the house. I had no muscle mass whatsoever on my body and I struggled desperately with the hay chore. I slowly began to learn the goats on a personal level, and I began to take over milkings within the dairy.

The changes that came were gradual, as all good things tend to be. Slowly I gained stamina and strength in my work. The farm helped me get to doctors to handle some of my more serious health issues. I began to use medication to control others. I found myself softening as I drove home the thought that happiness was a choice into my head. Often I would stop and look at where I was and remind myself, this is your goal. You achieved it. You are allowed to be happy. Over and over I pushed myself into putting a smile on, into thinking good thoughts. I looked deeper at everything until I saw the beauty in it, no matter what it was. I found new hobbies in photography and video editing.

I found more confidence as the months drifted by and I gained a stronger footing not just on the farm, but in our goat community. People began to ask my advice, which to this day often feels a bit strange, though I am always happy to help. People even stopped at the farm’s gate to ask me a question, and would tell me someone else had recommended me to them; that I would help them and answer questions about their goats. It made me feel happy when someone liked my photos, or told me how I had helped them. And I deserved to feel happy.

So I turned everything around and I did my best to be the person I wanted to be. I certainly was not – and am not! – perfect at it, but every effort makes a difference. As time went by, it became second nature to just… well, be me! Many a person has called me entirely too nice for my own good, and it’s true, perhaps being so patient has led me into troublesome spots, but I will always rather be the person I am now than what I was once.

The goats have changed my life. Before the goats I was filled with darkness I couldn’t defeat. Now their noses brush against my fingers and their breath blows it away like so much chaff in the wind. Though I have been “good” at many things in my life, only with goats has the key fit perfectly in the lock. Dozens of other hobbies have I picked up, enjoyed, grown bored of, and put back down again, but the goats are always there in the morning, and the hunger to know more about them has never even come close to be sated. The feel of a newborn kid squirming in my hands will always fill my heart, which was once cold and painful, with enough warmth to get me through any winter. Only with goats do I stand with confidence denied me through out the rest of my life, and they stand beside me and pull out my pockets, looking for the treat they know is there. Because of the goats, I have done what was impossible before.

No, my life isn’t perfect, and every day I still fight against demons that will always belong to me, but my life is good. Goats gave me freedom. Goats gave me my life back.

Pinky’s Overnight Adventure

Most of you know Pinky, but if not, let me introduce you! Pinky is the last of the toxoplasmosis infected babies. She had a very rough start to life, developing a terrible infection in her eyes and possibly brain as a newborn, needing round the clock care. She not only survived, but is thriving now!

Unfortunately, the viral illness did take most if not all of her sight, but Pinky has never let that stop her. The bigger she gets, the naughtier she gets I think sometimes! Having lived much of her early life inside the house, she is quite certain that the world was made just for her.

As Pinky got older, we started letting her go outside to browse under supervision. She became harness trained in no time, and even visited Tractor Supply to pick out a brand new harness! Everyone fell in love with Pinky hard, and we all are dedicated to her lifelong care, even if keeping track of a blind goat can sometimes be a challenge!

Pinky’s adventure started out innocently enough. She was in the front yard, picking at grass happily like always. As we all know so well, it’s so terribly easy to become distracted and complacent! Pinky has always stuck very close to the house where she is familiar with her surroundings, but one evening, as we became busy with chores and milking, Pinky decided that wandering off into the big pastures and forest just seemed like a great idea!

By the time we noticed, darkness was closing in, and Pinky didn’t respond to our calls. Normally when she becomes lost and confused, she begins to circle and call, helping us to pinpoint her location. We walked out, calling for her, but silence only answered between the crickets chirping in the long grass. Sick with anxiety, we were forced to call off the search before long and returned home, with plans to go back out as soon as there was light enough to see again.

Morning milking was rushed through and as soon as it was finished, we trotted out to look for our little adventurer once more. We had around 25 acres of mixed pasture and forest that she could be on now – I tried not to worry too much about predators; thanks to the Z-Team, most wild hunters give our property a wide berth now. We followed the main goat paths, calling for little Pinky, but as the minutes grew longer with no response, our concern only grew. It would break the entire farm’s heart to lose Pinky.

After some time I stopped and stood for a while just to think. I knew I could go back and fetch Apple the pony and cover more ground, and decided if we didn’t find Pinky soon, that is what I would do. I took a moment to think more like a goat – where would I be if I was a goat? A blind lost goat?

I would go to water, which animals can locate by smell. But Pinky was no where near the main ponds in the pasture, where she had often grazed before under supervision. I retraced paths I know the goats take well, considering the options. Luckily, I spend a great deal of time out with the goat herd and know the property fairly well. I knew there was another pond in a forested area, just an oversized puddle really, shadowed by trees and sheltered in a hollow with fairly steep sides all around. I split off from the others to check that area, calling for Pinky as I went.

She didn’t answer, but I spotted her bright little face peering upwards at me as soon as I reached the edge of the trees. “Pinky!” I shouted, leaping down to the water’s edge to scoop her up (Oof, she’d gotten heavy by that point) and bring her back to the pasture. “I found her!” I called out in relief as Pinky nosed at my cheek, as if to ask what took so long. She was no worse for wear despite her long night all alone in the forest.

I put her down once we joined up with the others and we patted and made a fuss over her, scolding the little goat for making us all worry and search. She was thrilled with the attention and began to beg for treats, searching eagerly for our pockets. Relieved, we were able to laugh now and we took Pinky home to be spoiled a little extra.

Needless to say, Pinky no longer browses without the GPS tag attached to her harness, though her browsing hours are few these days. Now she spends most of her time with the kids, relearning what it’s like to be a goat, and she loves it. It’s amazing to see her boss around the others, and even more astounding to see the other kids adjust their own behavior to suit Pinky’s disability.

No matter what happens, Pinky will be cared for and loved for her entire life, and I can’t help but wonder as I bend over to pet her and she looks up at me with her smug little expression, if she’s thinking about the time she had an exciting overnight adventure all on her own.

Drama Queen

Every goat has its own personality and quirks, and if I had to sum up JuneRose in one word, it would be: Dramatic!

JuneRose is the only daughter of our original herd queen Hope, and the mother of Minx herself, and for the longest time she stood in a shadow between those two great does. When she returned to our farm, missing an ear, she was a very quiet submissive doe. It was almost as if she had no personality of her own at the time, and she sort of just existed among the other goats.

When we moved to the dairy, that attitude lingered for a short time longer, but following her dam’s death, JuneRose started to settle in and show a little more substance to her little buckskin body.


She made friends and began to stick up for herself, not allowing her slight handicap and her small size to put her at the bottom of our now much larger herd. But it wasn’t until she kidded for her third freshening that she really came into her own here.

It was a normal pregnancy – she was carrying one of the last Blizzard kids, a full sibling to Minx herself. Due a little later in the month, I wasn’t too concerned about her; her first two kiddings had gone quite well and she has always been an excellent mother. So imagine my surprise when I received a text, “Hurry, JuneRose needs help! It’s bad!”

I grabbed my jacket and boots, popping the door open as I went. I could hear a doe shrieking in agony all the way from the barn (I think people in Louisiana heard her squawking honestly), and I doubled my rate of speed and trotted out towards the sounds of distress. Slipping through the gate, I found one of my partners wringing her hands in worry as JuneRose lay prostrate on the ground, moaning in what appeared to be her dying gasps. Two black legs poked out of her backside and I turned the hose on to wash my hands, preparing to go in and find the problem.

JuneRose, impatient with my apparent lack of attention, staggered to her hooves, bleating with eyes rolling around in her one-eared skull, then screamed at the top of her lungs and flung herself to the ground again with an audible thump, letting loose another wail as she rolled about in the dirt. The two forelegs hanging out twitched as JuneRose waved her own legs in the air, upended like an angry old tortoise.

Of course, now we were terribly worried! Obviously she had to be in great pain to be behaving so. I’d never seen a doe act like this in all the kiddings I’ve attended. Even as we stared at her, she jumped to her feet again, each one stomping out an erratic beat as she scrambled in a silly little circle.

Once more she threw herself to the ground and rolled about, bellowing as if there was a lion attached to her hind end. The other goats were as shocked as we were, and nearby does looked over with wide eyes to stare at the spectacle. I could practically see some of them exchanging glances of disdain for the show that JuneRose was putting on.

At this point I’d seen enough; my partner seized JuneRose by the collar to prevent her from rolling over again. I got a grip on the two admittedly huge forelegs being presented, bending over for a better look. I could see just the tip of a nose, so the kid was in proper position. As JuneRose pushed (and shrieked) I gave just the slightest pull, and with what I swear was an audible *pop* the kid flew out and landed on the ground with the same startled expression I had.

JuneRose immediately shut her mouth and was on her feet again, turning around to softly talk to and nuzzle her newborn buckling, who only looked around like, “It’s about time.” I checked her to find no tearing or bleeding. The kid was a monster and looked several weeks old already, but despite that – and JuneRose’s dramatic labor – it was a good birthing. We couldn’t help but laugh now that the theatrics were over – what a sight it had been! I’ve never since seen anything like it, that’s for sure.

JuneRose loved that buckling, and how I wish he would have been a doeling, but alas, the time came too quickly for him to find his new home. Being such a handsome and stout little man, he easily landed a home as a hobby breeder’s new herd sire. I know he surely made some great kids. His mother moped around for a time before recovering – but her antics were not quite finished.

A couple of years later, after her twins by Khan were sold, JuneRose decided enough was enough. She was determined to have her own kids here – while Minx is her daughter, they were separated when Minx was quite young, and although they are familiar with each other and friendly, they were not close companions like many mothers and daughters are.

So JuneRose stole two kids that year – taking Kiyoko’s little daughter Kiki was easy as pie, as poor Kiyoko can never remember which kids are hers, and in fact ended up taking care of kids that weren’t her own that year herself. Sneaking away with Hot Spot was a bit harder, as Anise is a attentive mother herself, but JuneRose did it.The three are close now, but JuneRose and Kiki are inseparable to this day.

Moony’s Return

I think we’ve all faced the tough decision of needing to sell some stock to pay bills. I faced this very dilemma myself last year, and with a heavy heart I chose to part with two of my unregistered does: a yearling Minx daughter and Moonstone, my Juliet x Blizzard doe. I found them an excellent home and off they went. Moony’s mother Juliet, had at this point is the has been with me the longest, and for many years she enjoyed a top position in my herd, and even after we moved to the dairy and joined their much larger herd, she found her footing quickly.

Moony was born that first year we were here, and as she grew, she supported her dam, causing both to rise in the ranks. Juliet and Moony were very close – too close really, as Juliet continued to allow her adult daughter to nurse despite my every effort to get them to stop. While much of a doe’s status relies on her own personality and ability to joust and fight, a great deal of it comes from her daughters and close companions as well. A doe with good support behind her will gain a higher rank and then both her and her daughters enjoy better positions at the hay racks, or the best place to sleep.

When I sold Moony, it knocked a massive support out from underneath Juliet, and her fall from the top was slow and sad to see. Other does who had respected her reign for years began to gang up on her and push her around. Though she fought back, Juliet’s confidence was shattered, and her position slipped further and further down the ladder of goat hierarchy. It made me sad to see – Juliet had once been a herd queen’s second-in-command, and now she waited at the back for her turn at the water buckets, or snatched a few mouthfuls of hay when the bigger does were napping.

As we grew closer to kidding season for that year, the jostling for higher position escalated; each doe wants to gain a step or two so that her kids will have better privileges once born. Juliet did her best, but the other goats, many with daughters backing them up, were inevitably successful in rebuffing her attempts. I allowed her to keep her doeling, a pretty gold and white baby, in the hopes that it would help her regain some position, though it would be years before her daughter was old enough to really take part in the Game of Goats that goes on around here.

However, her fortune was about to change, as I received a message that Moony’s new owner was making a change in her goat path and Moonstone was for sale.

Honestly, I had regretted selling Moony by then, not just for Juliet’s sake, but because I missed my big black and white goofball of a doe. So it really wasn’t any question and I bought her back immediately. She’d been gone just seven months, so I had no doubt that Juliet and her would remember each other. What I was very interested to see was how Moony’s return would affect Juliet’s position – would she regain any rank? Was it too late? How would Moony respond to Juliet’s new daughter, who was nearly weaned but still with mom.

There’s little I enjoy more than diving deep into goat behavior and trying to figure out what is going on in their heads.

Moony arrived with minimal fanfare, hopping down from the truck and looking around with the very obvious air of knowing exactly where she is. As soon as her quarantine was up, I put Juliet and her current daughter in a pen and brought Moony over. The interaction wasn’t very exciting to see – they sniffed noses, and Moony peered at her little sister for a few moments, and then they stood and ate hay together.

However, it’s what I didn’t see that made it really interesting. When a doe meets a strange doe, there is almost inevitably some posturing. Ears go back, face tightens, eyes widen. They will stand sideways to each other to show how large and strong they are, turning their heads and lowering them to threaten headbutting. In many cases, it does end in a fight of some sort, until one or both does break off – either to continue the battle another time, or because one admits obvious superiority to another. There’s always tension in these situations, but in this one, there was simply none. It was as if they had seen each other yesterday.


Moony rejoined the herd with her mother and little sister, and I made the decision to move the young gold and white doeling on to a new home now that Moony was back. Almost immediately upon reentering the herd, Moony was pressed to prove that she was still a heavyweight fighter, which she did with gusto. Being extremely stout, Moony is very difficult to move, not unlike a brick wall. She knows how to use this to her advantage, and now instead of Juliet making headway with Moony on her flank, it was the other way around.

Juliet didn’t even appear to notice when her younger daughter left, but she and Moony were never far apart. Even better, Moony’s best friend rejoined them as well. The beautiful orange and white Mini Mancha named Mandarin was a year younger than Moony, but they had been friends before she left, and they picked up their companionship where they left it. Being another heavy doe with a high ranking Mini Mancha mother, Mandarin only helped push their little group back up in position.

Though they never regained their original ranking, Juliet and Moony now comfortable reside in the upper mid-range of the herd. No longer is Juliet bullied and pushed around, and Moony is a changed goat herself, carrying her bulk with a new confidence. And I have a greater understanding and appreciation of the deep-seated bonds that goats create amongst themselves.

Moony and Juliet will never be separated again.


The Lunatic La Mancha

Rarely a year goes by without the addition of a new buck to the herd, as I’m forever on a quest to improve both of our breeds here at the dairy. When I spotted a young La Mancha buck called “Just Got Paid” online, I thought, there’s a nice buck for this year! Though young, he was already quite large and very handsome, with a properly disbudded head (always a huge bonus to me, and can be hard to find), and a bit of flash on top.

The seller sent me more pictures – JP, as he was called, lived with his little group of does and was a very friendly boy. Since a good temperament is always key, I worked out a trade and before long we were heading out to pick him up.

It was November, so JP wouldn’t be used until almost an entire year later, but I figured at least I wouldn’t have to worry about finding a new buck last minute. As we lead him out to the car, JP took a big whiff of my jacket, which no doubt reeked of does, and proceeded to jump on me quite vigorously. Not wanting to hit him in front of his now previous owner, I jerked the leash to make him put all four hooves back on the ground, then shoved him into the back of the car. It wasn’t unusual for bottle raised bucks to often exhibit such rude behavior, so I didn’t concern myself with it too much – he would learn his manners as did any goat with inappropriate behavior that arrived on our farm.

We popped him into a Quarantine pen and pulled blood for his testing. The next morning he was wandering around looking a bit vague. Well, the Q pen has short walls and he’s quite a tall boy, so I figured best to put him in the trailer to finish his Q period. Once he’d passed his tests, I took him to the buck pen. The fencing here was stronger and higher, and he would have male friends, so he’d settle in quickly enough, right?


I went out the next morning to find him sleeping with the entire doe herd. Annoyed, I realized he must have shoved the gate open just enough to slip through, so I latched it extra tight this time.

The next morning he was with the does again. This time I put wire over the spaces between the gate bars, thinking he slipped through. But even that didn’t stop him.

Worse, despite the majority of our herd being bred and ready to kid in just a couple of months, JP went into full blown rut. When I went into the buck pen, he lunged at me, swiping a foreleg against me and blubbering with lust. I won’t mince words, I hit him as hard as I could with an open palm across the nose. Despite being just a yearling, this buck was already much larger than I am, and I began to get an inkling that this boy had a screw loose. You see this kind of behavior in bottle-raised bucks that aren’t socialized properly, and are allowed to get away with inappropriate actions when they are still cute and little. Unfortunately, it’s not so funny when they became testosterone fueled breeding machines. I hung a whip on the buck pen gate.

It took some time and a few close calls, but eventually JP learned that attempting to mate with me only led to a painful and swift punishment. There is no room on this farm for aggressive animals.

Alas, the trouble didn’t stop there – it only escalated. JP spent hours pacing the fence line screaming at the does he could see. Morning after morning I came out to find this buck with my does, and afternoon after afternoon was spent attempting to stop his escapes. I patched fencing, strengthened posts, and even strung electric wire along the fence.

Nothing deterred him. He bounced off the hot wire like it wasn’t there – hot wire charged by the biggest box Tractor Supply offers I might add. Eventually I caught him escaping, and to my horror, he wasn’t squeezing through, around, or underneath anything. He was going over. Hot wire across the top only made his jumps more dangerous as he skimmed over like a champion show jumping horse. Frustrated, I pulled him out and put him in a dog kennel we keep near the buck pen. Eight foot straight panels should stop him from going over at least, until I can find a solution for the issue he was causing.

I was wrong – I had barely enough time to walk away before JP backed up three steps, then launched himself out and trotted towards the does, who by this time were getting as sick of him as I was. I ran to catch him, then threw him back into the trailer, slamming the gate in his face.

Something had to be done. I wasn’t ready to give up quite yet, so we put a wire top on the dog kennel and dubbed it the “Punishment Pen” and locked JP inside. It was better than the trailer, but not by much, at least when it comes to long term living. There had to be a better solution. I finally decided to pull out an old trick from my childhood; if you had a dog that was a fence jumper, there was one guaranteed solution. I was apprehensive about using the same method with a goat, as they’re notorious for killing themselves in any way possible, but after discussing it with the others, I felt like it was our only option. If he continued to jump out, it was only a matter of time before he broke a leg. I figured, one way or another, he’s going to hurt himself unless I do something.

So I took a length of dog tie-out, the type coated in plastic to prevent it from tangling easy, and I tied one end to JP and one end to a cinder block. It took careful adjusting to ensure the line was long enough so that he didn’t bang his legs with the block, but short enough that he couldn’t actually jump up and then get caught, effectively hanging himself. My goal was not to keep him on the block for life, but just long enough for his brain to think he can no longer jump without getting jerked back to the ground.

He drug his brick back and forth, complaining bitterly, but he stayed where he belonged. Eventually, it was like his brain suddenly clicked off and he was a gentle friendly buck again. When he wasn’t acting like a complete lunatic, JP was a pretty nice guy. I didn’t feel comfortable allowing the bucks out to graze while he wore the brick, but as time went by and JP bonded with our other bucks, I decided we could wean him onto something smaller, so I tied a house brick to his collar. My hope was that the weight of it would continue to trick his mind into thinking he can no longer jump. After some time the twine holding the would brick wear out, leaving JP without burdon at long last.

It worked, and within a month, the boys were able to go back out to browse, and I didn’t find JP in my doe pasture.

Unfortunately what I did find there was a lot of pregnant yearlings. During his escapades, JP managed to impregnate nearly all of my open La Mancha yearlings, several older does who hadn’t settled during breeding, and a couple of Nigerian Dwarf as well. All kidded without trouble, and had quite a few pretty little babies. If nothing else, it made it very easy for Citation, one of the few girls to escape his lust, to win best First Freshener her year, as most of her agemates no longer qualified!

The rest of the year went without incident. At least until breeding season was looming on the horizon. When the first doe came into heat (sweet old Nissa) his brain snapped again and I watched in despair as JP leapt the fence to get at her.

He went straight back into the Punishment Pen and the decision was made – JP had to go. We hadn’t even used him for a season, but there was no question about it. He was too hard to handle, too unpredictable, and with hormones in the air, he became aggressive all over again as well. Nothing I had done had stuck. We had new bucks coming in, so I listed him for sale.

A friend of the farm wanted him, so we traded him to her for a hundred bucks and a few dozen farm fresh eggs. I think we got the better end of the deal honestly.

The day JP left, I bred him to Crown Royal, representing the first and only time I actually bred him to a doe on purpose. Once they were done, some friends came over and helped me load him into their truck to take him to his new home. The moment we got him in the crate he lost his mind all over again, flailing and screaming. He flipped the crate over, sending it crashing onto its side as he threw his legs out in protest of confinement. We got him uprighted and tied down, and headed to his new home as quick as we could.

His new owner was very aware of his issues, but as she runs her buck with her does all year, the hope was that he would be happier and stay where he belonged.

Well he did – for a while. Once he’d bred all the does in his pen, he began to visit her other pens. Before long he was jumping out of anything he was put in, just like he had here. The last I heard, he was living on a tie out. An unfortunate life for any goat, but it is what it is, and I’m just grateful he is no longer my problem.

Five months later I pulled Bumble out of Crown Royal. And recently, she has really shown off what she got from her daddy by jumping into a hay feeder and breaking her leg. I guess it’s true what they say – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Rather – it leaps straight into trouble!


The “S” in K-N-S Farm

While many of my readers have met me, very few people have actually met my husband. Even fewer have been lucky enough to speak to him! My husband is not the most sociable person in the world, preferring to leave that part of life to me, and he takes a long time to warm up to new people. But without him, K-N-S Farm could not exist. The “S” in our name stands not just for Steven, but for SUPPORT.

My husband and I are one of those fortunate pairs that found each other early on in Highschool. We stuck together like glue, even through some pretty terrible times. We grew together, sometimes with friction, but we found the appropriate middle ground time and time again. And time and time again, we defeated adversity and moved on to the next step in our lives.

One of those steps was what brought us to where we are today, and as I said before, it absolutely would not have been possible without him.

We started with poultry on our little farm – he brought home a box full of random chicks from the feedstore after hearing me lament my lack of animals to care for. Though he’d never before handled a live chicken (and to this day, holding a wriggly feathery bird is not something he’s a fan of) he gamely helped me care for them and eventually move them to their outdoor pen. He celebrated their first eggs with me and peered with interest into the cheap incubator he brought home as our first chicks hatched. We were still newlyweds at this point, and our new adventure was strange to him – but exciting!

As I browsed and participated on chicken forums (where I coincidentally ended up meeting my best friend as well), I found myself drawn to posts from people with pet goats. I began to do as much research as I could on goats, especially dairy goats. I’ll tell you a secret – I despise milk. I have since I was a child. To this day I do not drink milk. However, Steven is a huge fan of milk and goes through impressive quantities, so I felt some little dairy goats would be a perfect addition to our flock of chickens and ducks.

Mother’s Day was approaching, and though we have no human children, I felt that was a good enough excuse to show him some little goats I’d found on Craigslist.

My husband has always indulged pretty much my every whim, even when it travels into a world he has had absolutely no experience with. We drove home with two wild-eyed goats standing in the backseat of a Chevy Malibu, and when we arrived home again, he bravely held onto the horns of the female goat while I did my best to milk her out into a pickle jar. I wonder if he had any idea what spark had just been struck.

When we chose the name for our farm, he was the one who chose the simple, K-N-S. He wanted to be represented, and rightly so – without him, there would never be a farm. There would be no goats or chickens. There would be nothing.

His support continued as we chose a new place to live, one specifically with enough room to grow our goat herd. He drove the posts for our fencing and nailed together our shelter. When I wanted to add ponies to our herd, it was him who bravely pulled the frightened and unhandled pony onto the trailer, trusting that I would know what I was doing when we arrived home with it. When a goat died and needed to be buried, it was him who dug the hole. When I wanted to buy a new goat, it was my husband who drove the necessary distance to pick it up. When I drug him to friends’ farms to help them, he came and did his best, and even made a few friends in the process.

Never did he balk, or argue, or debate. Trusting in my ability to balance everything we were and are doing, my husband only gives support.

When we began to work at the dairy, he came along with no complaints and was interested in what they were growing. However, as we began to discuss moving there so that I could take on the job of stock management, he had some trepidation. As I mentioned before, my husband is not a social person. My husband is always ready to help out when needed, but it has lead us to trouble before. We have, unfortunately, lived with other people who would expect too much of him, until the point it became exhausting and leads to conflict.

Other people often have trouble understanding him as he is – they see a large quiet man who does not wish to socialize or talk much, and begin to believe that he is always angry, or dislikes them, when in reality, the poor guy just wishes to be left alone in most cases. We wanted so badly for this situation to work, as our current home was in a very bad location and I was becoming very afraid of being alone while he worked all day.

So we did what we could to prepare the owners of Honey Doe Farm for the peculiarities of my husband. And honestly, I believe it worked. Certainly there were some issues in the beginning we all had to work out together as we learned each other, made much more difficult by the stress both Steven and I were under due to our home burning down before we could make the move. It took us all time to settle in, but I must give the farm owners here more credit than I could express in words – where others would have just become frustrated and thrown their hands up in surrender, they pushed through and did their best to understand. With time, we found our footing, and I do believe it’s been quite the success story.

In fact, the farm counts on Steven as much as I do now – he now handles the majority of our hay shipments, everything from unloading to refilling the feeders. Barn cleaning too lays upon his shoulders every year, a hard difficult job that he does without complaint, knowing how important it is that we have a clean barn for kidding season. In fact, last year he laid down rules to ensure the barn’s build up of deep bedding through the winter was done in a fashion that would enable him to clean easier. It’s him who scolds us when the hay barn is closed improperly and the goats break into to cause chaos. And when we make mistakes and do silly things like buy a herd of sixty untested Toggenburg goats, it was my husband who was the most against it, warning us what a risk we were taking.

We should have listened!

Even though now he may not know all of their names, he still buys apples and treats for our goats. Despite now having a nice car, he still will put a goat inside – though it must be crated! Regardless of how busy our lives have become, he always has time for what the farm needs.

None of this could be possible without Steven. Though I may be the active face of the farm, the person everyone meets and knows, I pale in comparison to him when it comes to importance. If it wasn’t for him, everything I do could not be done.

So if you ever happen to catch a glimpse of Steven when you visit the farm, or have the chance to say hello, remember that you are meeting the true support beneath K-N-S Farm – even if he barely says hello back before vanishing out of sight!



The Wandering Goat

Today I have a story that comes from long before most of the others. Throughout my life, I spent many years living on the farm my grandfather bought and built. It was a special place, my true “home” for the longest time. It was there that we kept our exotic mammals, many of our reptiles, and our livestock. As a small child, we kept a few lambs and goats as well, and plenty of poultry.

When I lived there as a young teenager, many of the animals were gone, leaving empty pens and overgrown pastures.

As a young person still trying to find footing in the world, I often struggled with many of the same things others at that age do. I was living alone with my grandmother, which brought it’s own difficulties, but we slogged on and got along as well as a pair so different could.

It was during this otherwise dull time that the wandering goat joined my life.

I think we were on the way home from church when we found him. As we drove down the very long and lonely dirt roads, I was absorbed in watching the trees and underbrush pass by in an unending rhythm when my grandmother hit the brakes and exclaimed, “Look at this goat!”

I looked up and indeed there was a goat. A long legged white buck stood in the center of the dirt road, gazing nonplussed back at my grandmother’s old Buick. He was the epitome of the story-book billy goat: two light colored horns topped his head and a nice little beard graced his chin. We waited for him to run off, but he only stood and looked at us.

After a moment I got out of the car and approached the goat, who walked over and butted my leg gently as if to ask for patting, just as my goats today do. I looked around – not a house or car in sight. In these deep backwoods of Navasota, TX, it was miles between homesteads and you could drive your entire way home from the highway without seeing another car. We knew most of our neighbors too, and none of them kept goats. This goat’s appearance was a mystery – where had he come from?

Well, we certainly couldn’t leave such a cute goat all on his own! I seized him by one horn and drug him over to the car and opened the back door. I shoved him into the backseat, his oversized testicles that hung entirely too low swung comically as he scrambled onto the luxury suede seats. Jumping back into the front seat, we continued our journey home. When we arrived, I pulled my new pet over to the very pen that would house the first K-N-S Farm goat herd over eight years later, and gave him water. There was plenty of brush to eat already in there for him, and I happily christened him “Billy” to top off the stereotype fully.

Billy was uninterested in staying in that pen however, and the next morning he was waiting for me on the porch. After a couple of repeats, I just let him stay out and go where he pleased – which he did! He even followed me into the house once, causing my grandmother to screech at a decibel I hadn’t been aware she could achieve. I suppose her patience could only go so far.

When I’d come home from school, I would make my way down the half mile lane from the road to our farm, and Billy would frisk up to greet me, his testicles practically mowing the grass as they swung back and forth. We would play together and I would give him a piece of bread before we’d go off and explore the forest and creeks that ran deep within them. Afterward he would sit on the porch and chew his cud while I read a book or talked on the phone with a friend.

When I had goats and lambs as a younger child, they were just livestock – food for our family. Billy showed me that goats could also be your friends. To this day I wonder where he came from – who raised him?

Billy stayed on the farm for around a month. One day when I came home Billy was not there. I was upset, as you can imagine, and spent much time looking for him on the farm, to no avail. I accepted the reality that a predator must have gotten him, but a few days later, one of the neighbors called to ask if we knew anything about a white goat. Billy had reappeared in his horse pasture, but could not be caught. My grandmother told them to keep the goat (no doubt tired of the pellets on the porch) but Billy only stayed with their horses for a short time before he vanished from their pastures as well.

I later heard that Billy reappeared on several farms before going missing for good. Perhaps someone finally was able to put him into a pen he could not escape, and he enjoyed a long life as some other child’s pet. I hope so.

I forgot about Billy until years later, when we brought home Hope and Uno and put them in that same pen. I shared those good memories with my husband, and I was able to pull out a picture that showed me in my dorky glasses and messy hair standing next to a silly looking lanky young billy goat. Did Billy unknowingly create a spark that would someday bloom into a passion for goats? Is his friendly companionship why I have bonded so strongly with our current pets? Even if not, he gave me some very fun memories and a new appreciation for goats that no doubt played some part in my current life, and I am grateful.

How I wish that picture had not been lost in the fire so that I could share it with you today, but sadly it only lives in my memory now – just like Billy himself.