So in my previous Horse Synopsis, I explained my need to move Indy to the back yard, then to find a companion for him, as horses need other horses or some sort of herd companion (even “He Who Hates Other Horses”). So my options were A) another horse, B) A donkey or C) A goat.
Option A – Another Horse
Being that I needed another horse like I needed a hole in my head, this option was low on the list. Little Child and I did visit a mini horse farm where the lady was thinning the herd, and it was REALLY cool, but like their larger counterparts, they need hoof care/shoes, extensive vaccines and vet care, tooth floating, and even THAT (i.e. “You Had to Clean his What?!?!?). So even though they are smaller, they still require the same care, eat a lot, AND THEY POOP LIKE HORSES.So after deliberating, it was a no for the mini.
Option B – A Donkey
See above, except add that they are LOUD! LOUDER than ANY horse I have ever heard!
Option C – A Goat
Little Child and I used to spend a lot of time at The Suffolk County Farm in Yaphank. Its an actual working farm with animals, crops, etc. Food from the farm is actually (I believe) utilized by Suffolk County facilities. They also have typical “petting zoo” type animals with, of course, baby animals in the spring time. Its a really neat place with really neat things, and the best part – ITS FREE!
So anyway, when I decided that a goat was probably in my future, the first thing I did was zip on down there and pick the folk’s brains. First off, they were SO nice. They actually lent me a book about goats! Basically, in a nutshell – they are very hardy, are very easy to keep, only require one or two vaccines a year, and are basically very enjoyable pets. Everyone said that my son would LOVE to play goats! DRAWBACK – A horse will immediately bond with a goat, but a goat wont immediately bond with a horse and they do better in pairs….wonderful. Well, we’ll see. I have seen solo goats and horses so it’s possible. I also learned that THEY SELL GOATS – the babies that were currently part of their petting zoo. OK, so I said “let me read your book and do my research and I will figure out what to do”.
So then I started some “Goat Research”. There are DAIRY Goats – goats bred specifically for milk. Many of the goats you see are dairy goats. They are small, thin and even miniature sized. They have good personalities although the minis can be a bit pissy. There are ANGORA Goats – goats bred for their fiber. Fainting goats are angora goats and easily my favorite. These are the ones that “Faint” when started. As MUCH as I would have loved a Fainting Goat, I could totally see the child or the old dog scaring the goat, making it pass out, then it getting stepped on by the horse, so BAD combination. Then there are MEAT Goats – goats specifically bred for meat. They are much larger than the other types of goats and are often wide as they are tall.
So fainting goats were out (DAMN!). I looked at some mini’s at the barn where I got Indy from. They were ADORABLE, but too small. I was afraid they would get stepped on. I couldnt find any other type of goats around, so I went back to the Suffolk County farm and inquired about their meat goats.
I looked at the “baby mommas” as I still call them today and they would be a good size to be a horse companion. So off I went to look at the babies who were weaned and separated from their moms. I approached the big pen/fenced area, and it must have been afternoon nap time as NO ONE got off their butts to come over to say hello, except for one little guy. He got up, came on over and he let me pet him and he was very friendly. He had a tag # of 107 in his ear. OK, if I go for the goat, I will go for 107.
I went back up to the farm office and said that I may be interested in 107 but I was still on the fence at the time because I was still considering the possibility of a mini. The head person said “OK, well let us know as they are going to go to…..processing. The school that requested we breed the mothers for the babies backed out of taking the babies so now we are stuck. All the boys and one doe will be processed.” Apparently, goat meat is “processed” when they are babies as the meat is similar to veal, so they needed to be “processed” soon. I told her I would get back to her. Of course, before I left, she mentioned “Are you sure you arent interested in 2? <Insert goat/horse bonding mentioned above>”
OK…so a week or so goes by and I am still on the fence. We had the barn being delivered for Indy, the paddock going up, etc. but I still didnt know who would be Indy’s companion.
Then I got the phone call.
“Hi! This is so and so from the Suffolk County Farm. I need to know what you are going to do as the goats are going to be processed in the next day or so.” Ugggggggg! OK, a goat it is!
I called back and asked when the truck was coming to get them, and was told that they do it there, so they can do it anytime…..UGGGGG! I’ll be there that weekend to take 107 out of his pen, get to know him, pay for him, etc.
So Little Child and I zip down there that weekend to officially meet #107. I named him Seven from the Seinfeld Episode (If George had a child, he was going to give it the name of Seven). Again I got the “Are you sure you dont want two?!?!”. They took him out, and Mr. Calm and Friendly INSIDE the pen, turned into SCREAM LIKE A BANSHEE Goat once he was separated from his friends…..
I looked at the farm hand lady and said “which one of these guys is going to be slaughtered” and she pointed out the ones. She said that her favorite was this little girl goat, the only doe who was going to end up on a plate. She pointed her out as the one in the doorway of the little barn in the middle of the pen with the brown marking that looks like an english saddle. They called her “Saddle” because of that. They used her for 4H and showed her so she is actually good on a leash. As the farm hand called over to her from afar, the little thing did the head tilt, “arent I cute?!” motion. OK – I’ll take that one…..ugggg….my husband is gonna kill me…
So the farm hand lady goes in, easily puts a leash on her, and yes, dont you know she walks on a leash, unlike the screaming mess that was 107 who was all over the place as I was making this decision. Needless to say, the second she came out he was all good. Alright – I guess I’ll take two. They even gave me a two for one deal because they were happy to see her go to a home and not “up the ramp”….
Soooooo…..I planned to pick up the babies the Friday after Thanksgiving and put them in the barn that was delivered the previous Wednesday. I put the little child in the Jeep, and rigged a system to keep them in the trunk area. The last thing I wanted was goats in my back seat next to my 1 year old in his car seat. I threw a flake of hay back there to keep it clean should there be accidents, and provide a snack if they were nervous.
I went to the farm, paid for the goats (only $100 for the both of them!) and went to go get them. They grabbed “all hands on deck” as when someone goes into the pen, they scatter. Sure enough, they go in, everyone scatters, except for Seven and the doe. The doe because she was used to it. Seven, really because he was like “Hey, why is everyone running?” The workers picked them up, threw them in the back of my Jeep, and off we went. I was expecting pandemonium on the drive home, but was VERY HAPPILY surprised to see them just chilling out and eating. Looking in the rear view mirror, I could see Little Child in his car seat, completely content with the fact that there were two goats right behind him.
We got home, and I drove my Jeep to the back of the house (I have a fenced yard). Now, Old Dog was a concern. I figured I would have to keep them separated as he has never seen a goat, and he is grumpy. I was prepared to have to walk him on a leash either for a long time, or possibly forever.
My plan was to put the babies in the barn and close the door, and let Old Dog sniff around and get used to their scent, then later introduce them with a leash. Well, Old Dog had other plans. Somehow, and I STILL have no idea how, he got out of the house RIGHT as I was taking the girl goat out of the Jeep (Seven was already in the barn). She ran and tangled herself around my hitch and got stuck while the dog was coming RIGHT at her. Thankfully I grabbed him and put him back inside, but poor little girl, what a way to be welcomed home!
I put them in the barn and they were happily playing and eating and were quite comfortable. We built a pen next to the barn for them, and put a big Dogloo in there to keep them warm and dry. When Indy came, we moved them in their pen and all was well in the world. Indy was happy for goats, goats were happy with their place, and the dog….OH, the dog! HA. I walked the dog around their pen and he was actually kinda ok. Excited, but OK. The goats really werent put off from him, so I decided to bring the dog into the pen to see what would happen. WELLLLLLLL……..poor Sox! They PUMMELED THE BEJEEZUS OUT OF HIM!!!! NO ONE was going to bother them, and the dog quickly learned that! The horse declared himself the boss as well, and thankfully Sox was still able to have full reign of his backyard…
So we needed a name for our unexpectd girl goat. I was at a complete block. Then when telling my aunt about everything, she simply said “Soda”. How could I forget!!! In that SAME Seinfeld Episode, George Costanza would name his daughter….SODA. DONE!
I have to say that GOATS ARE AWESOME. They have full run of the back yard now as they outgrew the pen, and outgrew my expectation of size as well as they are HUGE, but it is perfect as they dont get underfoot of the horse. Indy is very pleased with his goat friends and has relaxed even more as they offer no competition/hierarchy issues for him. Yes, they can be skootches – as they are goats, and gardening with goats has been quite the challenge, but I made it work. They are also good dog friends, as they tire the puppy/new dog out, and make the old dog get up and move.
So theres my goat story! Now some pics!