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Growing up Country: Part III - Goat TalesPosted Monday, May 10, 2010, at 6:39 AM
The pretty little white goat in this photo is about the same size as Pogo was when we got him, though this little guy lived on the farm much later - 2007, to be exact. This group represented my third foolish attempt to raise goats.
Thirty-five years ago when my husband and I moved to this Tillman farm with our two-year old son Todd, one of the first things we wanted to do was get some farm animals for Todd to play with. Being new to the game, we thought a goat would be a neat little pet for him, as they always looked so cute and tame on television and in the petting zoos.
There was nothing wrong with our thinking except for our idea of the right place to buy such a goat -- and the gender of goat to purchase. We innocently headed off to the Poplar Bluff auction, where we had heard there were lots of nice goats for sale. (Mistake #1 - Poplar Bluff goats are WILD.)
We first toured the stockyards and looked at the goats in the pens, marveling at their golden eyes with the rectangular pupils and the straight eye lids. One particularly friendly fellow stood with his feet on the stall bars, gazing straight into our faces. Oh, my, he looked wise and thoughtful! "Yeah, foolish humans! Gaze into my eyes and repeat after me, 'I will go to the auction ring and take you away from this awful place!'"
The illusion of intelligence was further reinforced by the events in the ring. The goats were run through singly or in small groups, with the ring man flicking them with a stick. They circled the ring, and -- I swear! -- they gazed from face to face, as if they were looking for someone familiar! I'm not kidding! It was actually quite heart-breaking.
Finally, we saw a little white goat with black legs. He looked good, so Dale bid on him and got him. My, my, why didn't more people want this adorable little four-legged cutie? We put a red collar on him, named him "Pogo Goat," and thought what a neat pet he would be for our son. That, of course, was Mistake #2 - never get a wild Poplar Bluff Brush goat for a pet -- especially if it's a billy.
We took Pogo Goat home, where he lived in a stall in the barn or at the end of a tether in the grass. Several times a day, Toddie and I would walk him on the lane like a dog. (Mistake #3) He never seemed to warm up to us, and I soon learned that a billy goat is not a proper pet. This occurred when Toddie bent down to pick up a pretty rock, and Pogo Goat arched his back, lowered his head, and butted my two-year-old into the gravel. That pretty much ended the walking-the-goat-like-a-dog routine. In fact, it became quite evident that Pogo Goat was a complete failure as a pet.
At that point, Pogo escaped captivity and ended up in the pasture to run with the cattle. (Mistake #4) As he grew larger, his propensity for butting things became even more pronounced, and since cattle were the only targets, he took up the infuriating habit of following them around, butting them from behind. Since he had long horns by that time, we could see distinct problems with this arrangement.
Another oversight caused problems, when the cute little red collar began to choke Pogo. Even though we no longer had much fondness for the big lug, we couldn't stand to see him strangle to death, so Dale watched for a way to get the collar off. His opportunity came one sunny day, as Pogo slept soundly in the field. Dale was able to creep up on him and grab him by the collar. He said the goat jumped straight up! Amazingly, Dale hung onto him and cut the collar off.
I hesitate to share the ending of this story with you, but since I've reached this point, I guess I have no choice, bitter as it is. A cattle farmer simply cannot have a horny goat butting his cattle. You will have to admit to the truth of this statement. Something had to be done. Being unable to get anywhere near the goat, after the insulting capture at snooze time, Dale felt he had no choice.
It was a clean shot, and Pogo Goat did not suffer. Please do not report me to the ASPCA or PETA (God forbid!) or the HSMO. My husband has been in his grave for these 13 years, and if God wants to punish him for the cold-blooded murder of a very smelly, ill-mannered, foul-tempered billy goat, I am sure that the conversation is between him and his maker.
My advice for all you prospective goat farmers is this: If you insist on getting a goat as a pet, follow these steps: 1) Get a female kid. (baby goat) 2) raise her on the bottle. 3) Build a nice tight house where she can sleep in the straw. 4) Do not let her come near a billy goat upon peril of your life. 5) Get your head examined by a competent physician.
From the rolling hills of Tillman, Mo., where there are NO goats, this is your often foolish, seldom sensible ex-goat herder, Madeline, signing off on an unseasonably cool evening in May.
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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.