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Patsy the House GoatPosted Monday, August 18, 2008, at 7:57 AM
Patsy and my daughter's dog Chigger walk the levee lane. Goat pen to the left, pond to the right.
Patsy was born unexpectedly one cold, drizzly February morning, shortly after one of my other goats had given birth too young and had let her baby die. I was determined that it would never happen again, so when I heard a baby goat crying out in the dry leaves in the back pen, I rushed out, scooped her up, and brought her into the kitchen, where she started life in a cardboard box with a heat lamp.
My son and I caught her mother and milked her to get the colostrum for the little goat. After the first couple of days, we put her on milk replacer, which I fed her in a baby bottle. I had to enlarge the holes in the nipple with a hot needle.
The weather stayed cold and wet that spring (05, I think), so Patsy remained in my kitchen behind a barricade, until I finally moved her out to the dog pen, where she lived by herself in a doghouse with a heat lamp at the doorway. Seems as if it took forever for the weather to warm up that year.
Patsy took walks on the lane with the dogs and me, twice a day, early morning and late evening. The photo I've posted shows my daughter's blue-eyed hound Chigger shepherding Patsy across the levee. The little goat would stop and nibble on weeds and grass, as we walked my half-mile lane from the house, across the pond levee, past my son's grape vines, past the pear trees, up the hill, and then down to the mailbox.
Even after I put Patsy into the pen with the other goats, I would go down and get her out for walks on the lane. She really looked forward to this ritual, and I kept it up until she got much bigger and I couldn't keep her out of my son's grape vines. That ended her walks with me, and I missed it as much as she did.
She didn't like those rude, pushy goats in the pen, and they most certainly didn't like her. I spent a lot of time trying to find just the right place for her, so that she wouldn't get picked on by the alpha females or bred to her grandfather Billy. She developed a friendship with the little white goat Tinker Bell, who also had to be kept away from Billy, since he was her grandfather, too.
For all the good it did! One Christmas Eve, Billy broke down the gate to the back pen and nailed Tinker Bell. Absolutely flattened her. Hot Shot was born five months later, but Tinker turned out to be a good mama and a buddy for Patsy.
I don't know what happened to Patsy, but it seemed to start with her feet. I couldn't keep her hooves trimmed, they grew so fast and became all warped. She got progressively more crippled, and by about March, when I took her to the vet, she was really struggling to walk. I could tell that it wasn't her feet. The vet thought she might have some nerve damage.
In June of this year, she had deteriorated so much that she couldn't go out in the field to graze. I fed her in her house, but it became obvious that she wasn't going to get better. It's possible that she had some sort of cancer.
My son came one weekend and put her down for me. She's buried by the pond, but I prefer to think that she's gone away to Planet Goat, like FJGuy says. He's even shown some visual evidence of her ascent. You can see it at http://forejustice.org/md/hotshot3.html.
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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 email@example.com or by phone at 573-722-5322.