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The Goat ChroniclesPosted Thursday, July 31, 2008, at 9:48 PM
Many adventures ensued, and I found these always-entertaining animals a constant source of material for the NSC columns which I wrote every other week - and, later, a fertile topic for my blogs.
Later that year, we added a young billy, who cried piteously for his mother, until he figured out that these two young ladies were much more interesting...
After that, the baby goats appeared, and they were adorable and entertaining. I had never seen baby goats leap and twist in the air like that. Baby goats (kids) don't WALK: They bounce! They put their little feet together and HOP everywhere they go! It's so cute! The picture is of my daughter Kristin with our first babies, Sam 'n Eric (named after the twins in "Lord of the Flies.") My sister happened to be here that weekend, and I think she took the photo. I love it!
One thing led to another, and I guess at the "peak" of the goat production, I had about a dozen goats. We invested in woven wire fencing with two stands of barbed wire on top, and we were able to keep our tiny herd confined for several years, where they could browse the steep slope of the pond levee. Matthew was delighted when they ate the bark off my mimosa forest, thus killing the beautiful trees, which he considered pests.
We learned to keep Billy out of the girls' pen through the summer months, so we wouldn't have babies in the dead of winter. Miscalculations or break-ins resulted in a change of plans - heat lamps, extension cords, etc. Not fun.
Over the years, we probably buried as many babies as we raised. That's the sad part of raising goats. The hard part is catching them up and worming them and trimming their hooves.
Summertime is a good time. They have plenty of brush to eat, the sun is warm. They lie in the field in the sunshine with their babies beside them. They come up to the fence and gaze at you with their rectangular eyes, looking so attentive and intelligent, as if they're always asking a question.
You see why I can't write about goats? I can't sort through it all to separate the good from the bad, the happy from the sad. I had them for six years, and I miss them very much, but I don't ever want to raise them again.
Billy battered my fences into pieces and chased me all over the farm, rearing up and threatening to butt me - until Matthew bought me a cattle prod. The first time he used it on Billy, he barked like a dog. After that, he gave it a wide berth, but I still couldn't keep him in a fence.
You asked what happened to them. Billy was one of the first to go (obviously). Some friends took a load of their goats to the auction, and I sent Billy along. I ended up with five, which I recently gave to one of my son's classmates. He took them up to his father-in-law's 200-acre farm on top of Goose Pond Hill, where they run with a herd of curious cattle.
In my next installment of the Goat Chronicles, I may tell about Patsy, the little goat I raised in the kitchen, but I can't do that right now.
From the empty pastures of Tillman, this is your rural journalist Madeline signing off on the last day of July, 2008.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.