July 31, 2015

The decision to own a dairy goat is something the entire family needs to get behind. 

When I was a kid (no pun intended), we raised baby goats every year. In the spring, we’d drive up to a goat farm in Occidental, Calif., and my brother, sister and I would each carefully choose a baby from among the tiny wether goats milling about in the goat yard. The next season, we’d return the goats to the farm and bring home a new trio of bottle feeders. This went on until we realized the fate of our young male goat buddies. I’ll leave it up to you to figure it out.

Once we recovered from the horror of learning the truth, we put our tiny feet down and demanded permanent goats. My parents compromised by letting us choose two goats to keep: One Nubian male, Bucky, chosen for his winning personality; and I saved up $35 to buy a tri-colored Alpine doe, Mia, who would be my 4-H dairy goat project.

If you’ve never had goats, I recommend it. They are hilarious creatures, performing amusing antics like playing “King of the Hill” on Mom’s VW Bug, chewing all the flowers down to short stems, and trying to eat the new green shag carpet in the living room. “They think it’s grass!” I explained to my mother when she expressed her dismay at Bucky and Mia trying to turn her new carpet into cud. “NO GOATS IN THE HOUSE!” Mom said calmly, at the top of her lungs. I tried to explain to her that yelling frightened the goats and that’s why Bucky peed, but she did not appear to be in a frame of mind to listen.

Despite their rambunctious behavior, our goats were part of the family. We leveraged their tendency to eat pretty much anything by staking them out to keep the grass down; we took them for leash walks around town, and tried tying them to our wagon to create a goat cart. This was a failure.

Sadly, Mia succumbed to pneumonia before reaching breeding age, so I never got to have my milk-goat experience, and I’m still considering it. My neighbor Allie has goats, raising new kids every year, and when I go see the newbies I get a bad goat jones. But there’s the daily milking to consider, and since I am pretty sure I can’t sneak goat milk past the Boy Kid and the Girl Kid, I’d have to be making a ton of cheese and yogurt. I raise the idea every year or so, and am consistently voted down. So maybe the goat dream will have to wait until I retire—or win the lottery. But one of these days, I’m going to march over to Allie’s and bring home a kid or two. I’ll just have to fence off the cars, keep the front door closed, and hope they don’t discover the flower beds. Yes, one can dream.

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