Written by Steve Riddle, a farmer in Wisconsin this was called “Revised Goat Story” when he posted it on my Facebook Page. I think it’s the best goat farming story ever. When I read it I laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face, seriously it’s hilarious. And this is no tall tale, it’s all true. Actually, there’s no way you could make this up. I hope you enjoy his gift for describing farming disasters as much as I do. In my experience there are a lot of these kinds of things that beginning farmers go through as part of the learning process, but I’ve never found anyone who could tell them so well. Luckily Steve has agreed to share several more of his stories with us over the coming weeks. This story is not profane in any way, but there were a couple of phrases in it that I edited because I was worried that a search engine might take them out of context. Anyway, here it is:
Our 1st attempt with goats was a freebie that was lost in a storm and ended up in my mother-in-laws subdivision. So we kept it. Not sure at first what sex it was because it had horns we thought must be a male, then we figured out real quick, NOT a male as there wasn’t a “package” dangling from the backside. So we named her Gotcha. We had her for a year or so. Then the following Mothers Day a volunteer where I work at offered me a male goat, FOR FREE!!! Well hell, didn’t take this Scotsman descendant too long to think about that one. (A second free goat, hey this farming thing is gonna be slick -we’re gonna get everything for free!!!!)
So I went to pick him up in my 1982 VW Vanagon, (stick shift) It took some adjustment, driving down the road, shifting gears and steering with one hand and my knee, while holding him by his massive set of horns with the other. Now, Mother’s Day is in May, so as cool as it was there was no real reason to have the windows down, and once I started on this trek, I really didn’t have a free hand to roll down a window, if you know what I mean. During that short trip I thought more than once he almost broke free of my grip as he lunged forward and back, and he took the liberty of scratching his chin on the backside of my passenger seat.
Well, it only took about 3-5 minutes in that VW holding onto that goat to start to smell…..something. Something horrible smelling, something unlike anything I had smelled before. Thank God it was only about a 30 minute ride back to the farm. (For those out there that have never had the pleasure of being around a male goat before, they do this male macho, ritual “thing”. They spray their beard with a combination of their own fluids [this is my edit – just trying to keep us from getting site blocked – TR] and over a period of time it builds to quite an unusual and distinctive scent.)
So getting out of the van, I presented her with the goat I got her for Mothers Day. I guess to explain the total situation, I don’t want anyone to think I’m the type of guy who’d pick up a FREE gift for my wife, then turn around and give it to her. Truth is on Saturday I was at an auction and managed to pick up a Sears self-propelled, electric start lawn mower for only $45 WHAT A BARGAIN…! When I got home Saturday, she said no way was she going to accept a lawn mower for a gift. (So now you see I HAD no choice than to pick up the goat.) I figured, if she wasn’t going to mow, I needed some way to keep the grass down, thus the male goat… unloading the new male goat from my van, I had no idea that it would take several weeks before the SMELL of him would leave my beloved VW van.
Comparing the 2 goat’s side-by-side, it was clear that we now had a “breeding pair” of goats. The male had thick, heavy horns, a long and very smelly beard, and an enormous set of balls that almost dangled to the ground. All our little girl had was a thin set of horns and a twitchy tail.
So, time for introductions. For some reason she was not accepting to his very willing romantic behavior, as he pranced up along side of her and tried to rub his chin along her backside. Every time he’d prance alongside her, she’d run off in another direction. Now I consider myself a patient man, and enjoy a few beers after I get off work, but after several days of her playing hard to get, enough was enough. I curled my cans for the evening and walked out to the barn and held her by the horns so he could have a go with her. -Hey, if I’m now a farmer, then by God we WILL have some goat kids running around here I thought. And so, the deed was done. All I had to do was wait until kidding time, but how long is the gestation cycle?
Even though he had done his job, he was more than willing to continue his romantic advances, in fact, after his first little “man-handled date” with Gotcha it appeared he doubled his efforts. Poor little Gotcha continuously had to run all around the pasture to a point where it was beginning to annoy even me! I got to thinking, could it be that goats are among those animal species that mate for life? Could it be that she had already chosen her lifelong mate at the last place she was, before we found her wandering that subdivision? …maybe she had secret relations with that obnoxious buck after the sun went down? In the mean time, he was marking every fencepost, barn stall, well pump, water tank and feeder he could rub his chin on. Before long our entire farm began to smell like male goat semen and urine! It got to the point where I sat down for dinner one night and the rest of the family could smell male goat on me because I had leaned against the barn wall; wondering how long would she evade his advances?
When Fathers Day came around my wife had decided to “settle the score” sort of speak. So when I got home from work that evening we had supper and then she handed me my present. It was a smallish box wrapped with a ribbon around all four sides. I’ll admit, I honestly wasn’t expecting much, actually nothing at all. But when I opened the gift and glanced over at my darling wife she had a sparkle in her eye and a serious but playful grin on her face. I looked back at my small present trying to fit it all together, and then it hit me! Oh for Mothers Day I get you a goat, and for Father’s Day you get me a bottle of Chloe perfume?
Ok, I said, but if you think you are going to use any of my perfume you are not. In fact I’m gonna go spray your stinky-ass male goat with it right now. I entered the pasture and I unscrewed the sprayer top and poured some on the top of his head.
If there was ever a key to unlock all of the demons from hell all at once …I had just done that deed. As the perfume dripped its way down his head to his nostrils he stuck out his lips and extended his chin and neck like he had done since the day I brought him home. But then, I guess the fragrance of the perfume had sunk in and altered his reality, and he began to act possessed, uttering sounds which to this day I still can’t accurately describe but I think it sounded like a combination of when the Wicked Witch of the West had water poured on her from the Wizard of Oz, and the slaying sound from a wild boar from a National Geographic special on African Pigmy Hunting Rituals I once saw.
He began to run all over and jump up in the air and flop on the ground and spray his fluids all over in every direction. I ran out of the pasture with him chasing after me! I had only seconds after I closed the gate shut before he slammed into it, then proceeding to ram anything in his sight, he kept up that behavior for a solid thirty minutes or so before he must have sprayed enough to recognize himself. After that little episode, my wife agreed that it was time to get rid of that present, he had worn out his welcome on our farm.
During all of this we had a litter of pups, our first litter of Border Collie pups. I ran an ad in the newspaper and a lady from the city called and wanted to check them out. Once we found out she was a small animal veterinarian, I told her about our attempt at goat kidding and she offered to take a look to see how much longer we’d have to wait until our little Goatcha had her little babies. And so, we put the puppies aside and walked back to the barn. I have to admit that I felt proud as we walked and talked along the path, that a veterinarian from the city liked what she saw. It assured me that we did make the right decision to move out to the country and to buy a farm. Maybe some of you can relate to this, but when you’re young and you make big decisions, ….like buying a farm, or a car, or stuff like that you’d like to make sure you’re making the right decisions. If my father was still alive, these are the big calls you’d like to seek reassurance on, so it was kinda nice to have a veterinarian commend you on your first farm. Lost in a little mental “at-a-boy” patting myself on the back, it took a moment for her words to sink in; I had to ask her to repeat herself please? She said again, “This goat is not a female, ……it’s a wether”
Suddenly, I had a knot in my gut and all I could offer her in response was a blank look, while I thought back to my participation in a drunken male goat mating barn brawl unwanted advance [again these are both my edits – TR]. ……to this day I have vowed not to drink and practice animal husbandry at the same time. The lady left, not giving a second look back or further interest in the pups. We even had to get rid of Gotcha because she, I mean he, …I mean it, never returned to its normal behavior.
Back before I brought that other devil goat home to our farm, Gotcha was a very nice goat, always coming out to greet us when we brought a treat of carrot or apple slice. And, although one might think without that sexual predator and menace on our farm, that would return Gotcha to its former self it did not.
Instead when I entered the pasture, it came running up as always but then would tuck its head at the last second and try to head but me with the horns. I guess the goat was carrying a grudge because of my participation, although well intended as it was. We soon gave Gotcha away in part because I didn’t want our little girls to get knocked over [my edit again -TR] anymore and in part to help erase that mishap from my memory.