Living with Goats

Living with Goats

by Shay Malone of McGrath, AK

It was chore time on our small, bush Alaska farm, and since the winter days are short, we use a lantern both evening (as it was now) and morning in the barn. My younger sister, Hannah, and I were working out there when this little incident happened which shows that goats truly love a good joke, especially when it falls on their owners in a poorly lighted barn.

Our milking stand is by a door with a spring on it that opens, and the selected goat can then walk right up on it, or dump down onto the floor. We didn’t lock the door while milking, because we thought we’d trained the goats not to open it.

We worm our goats herbally, and since they hated the powder sprinkled on their grain, we mixed it with molasses, which changed it into something delicious, according to the goats.

My 16-inch high, Pygmy goat wether, Shakespeare, ate his share and decided he adored it. Round like a dumpling, fat as he is tall, Shakespeare’s specialty is eating.

He opened the unlocked gate and plopped out onto forbidden ground. Ah, the rest of the barn now at his disposal. “Where do they keep that yummy stuff?” he began snuffing about.

My sister Hannah saw him, and we put him ingloriously back in the pen. “He’s so fat, he goes everywhere. Rather difficult to pick up,” Hannah grumbled.

I nodded, “He’ll stay in now, I think.”

But no, the incorrigible little demon was not to be stopped.

Red faced and panting, sister and I lugged the wiggling, hungry, desperately plump in the middle, pygmy, back to the pen and locked the door. There! Peace!

Shakespeare rattled the gate. I ignored the popping eyes and angry looks of my pet.

After milking, we left the last doe on the stand to finish eating while we went to worm the Shetland sheep. Unlike the goats, the sheep utterly detest the mixture, thus it has to be made into a ball and pushed down her throat while she was, to put it gently, restrained.

I was the unhappy one selected by my sister’s vote to get the bolus down. Fighting off the goats who volunteered to eat it, I shoved it in and held the mouth shut, stroking the furry throat, meanwhile, nursing my bitten finger.

After a minute of drool running down my hands, I let go.

The ewe regarded me pitifully for a moment, then oh no, this can’t be happening, the mess, dripping with slobber, is ungracefully returned to the outside world and my unlucky hand. Shakespeare is down on his knees under the ewe, frantically searching through the straw for the precious spit covered bits.

Hannah holds the sheep again, and I put in what I have become an unwilling possessor of back where it belongs. Ah, good. It stays. I breathe a sign of relief.

Suddenly, I see that the doe left on the stand has finished her food and is now kneeling down eating for dear life from the alfalfa pellet bag that is within her reach through the slats. I hurry to correct this, and glancing back, I can see Shakespeare still kneeling under the ewe, his round bottom pointing skyward. At last, done with the goats. “I wonder what got into them tonight,” I muse. I turn to go and step fully and completely in a large horse size rubber bucket filled with water for…who else but the goats? It was placed strategically near the goat pen.

I got rather wet. It was warm water though, which I believe is the only mercy the goats showed me that night.

As I righted the bucket, and paused to admire the puddle on the floor, I glanced at my sister.

She hastily turned away.

I saw the humor in it all and pretty soon we were laughing so, the tears came. We had been sabotaged completely by the goats.

That is barnyard comedy at its best, or rather its’ worst, I think as I go home to dry out my clothes.

Living with Goats