The Last Goat Standing.

WMJoeGoatI’ve been trying to not write about goats all week. I wanted to write something inspiring about art and dressage. I’ve kind of been being a goat about it, truth be told. Stubborn. Headstrong. Ornery. But I know when I’m out-goated, so I’ll tell you about Joe.

First, understand that goats aren’t for everyone. You have to be a little bit of a goat to own one. And of course, the term “own” is perhaps an exaggeration. Okay, more of an out-and-out lie.

Goats appropriated my farm the first year I moved here. I got a pair of kids and so did a neighbor, who abandoned her twins within the week–at my farm. I was going to return her pair to the breeder that next weekend. It was too much bottle feeding all of them, and although goats are very friendly and like to take your shoelaces, their number one rule is to put their desires first, no matter what, in every situation. It isn’t that you can’t train them, they just learn what they want.

Then Barney, her blonde goat, fell into a water trough and almost drowned. He was so contrite when I used the hair dryer on him that I decided he could stay, but Joe, the brown goat, had to go back.

I called ahead and Joe got in the cab of the truck with me. I can’t really explain what happened next, but Joe talked me out of it on the way. He was the most unlikable of all the kids, he reasoned, and even if I didn’t like him much, I probably liked him more than anyone else ever would. He was right, he was very unlikable. So by the time we arrived, I left him in the cab and went in to explain to the breeder. She shook her head, pressed a few free gallons of goat milk on me, and sent us back home.

That was when things changed. Joe went through a period of self-discovery. Not all of us get a message as loud as Joe did–his was undeniable. He confessed that he was not really a goat at all. He was a llama, graceful and curious, who was trapped in the body of a short-necked, stiff-legged goat. And he was mad about it.

But that wasn’t the important part. He had fallen in love. Holiday was a young llama back then, with a slightly crooked front tooth and bangs that fell in his eyes. Joe was besotted.

At first, I was naive enough to think that I could keep them separate but several times a day, Joe broke into the llama pen. He could squeeze himself through a tiny crack or weasel the gate; then I would repair the damage and send him back. For a while, he was always out, but I couldn’t find the leak.

The goat pen had wooden cable spools for the goats to play on, but Joe would tip one on it’s side and roll it to the fence. After setting it upright again, he got on top and launched himself over the top and in with the llamas. Smart enough.

I gave up the fence fight. Joe Goat abandoned his twin and went to live with Holiday and the other llamas… but it wasn’t a happy ending. Joe was a jealous suitor–belligerently monogamous. So for all Joe’s years, his love was unrequited. Partly because Joe was a jerk and tried to keep Holiday separate from the other llamas. That and Holiday just wasn’t into goats. It didn’t matter though, Joe was living the dream–but with less hair. Sound familiar?

We lost Joe this week. Just like before, he didn’t want to go–we had a rough trip in the truck on icy roads on a foggy, snowy morning. During the thirty-mile, hour-long trip to the vet, he tried to talk me out of it again, but he couldn’t stand or even hold his head up. Even then, he was a stubborn old goat, almost impossible to get along with. That was what I loved about him.

Don’t feel sorry for Joe. He had a great life, he took the world on his own terms. He lived an alternate lifestyle on a liberal farm that had tolerance for narcissistic ruminants. And please, no platitudes. He courted no sympathy before and I can’t imagine he wants it now. Joe isn’t the rainbow bridge sort. My guess is that he’s broken out, found the caretakers picnic area, and jumped on the table and eaten the melon salad. Again.

WMSumoEatNow Sumo is the last goat standing–15 come spring. He went for a check-up this week. The vet says he has outlived his teeth and they’re getting too long. But who am I to judge. I get horse hairs growing out of my chin from time to time.

Why should anyone care about the insignificant lives of two old goats? In the course of the world, our lives aren’t any bigger than theirs. Joe is a better teacher than some. If he cared, which he didn’t, he would probably have asked if you were getting your way enough. Sometimes you just should, you know.

Finally, if you feel a need to remember him someway, which again, he would think was stupid in the first place, perhaps the thing to do is be an obnoxious pain in the butt and insist on it being all about you–at everyone else’s inconvenience. Then bleat about it.

(We’ll miss you, you old snart.)

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.

48 thoughts on “The Last Goat Standing.

  1. Shelagh in Vermont

    Shedding a tear here. Reminds me of our Cat from Hell, who lived to torment us for 21 years. They are the ones whose memories stay with you forever.

  2. Diane Lacy

    I have never known a goat in my life (at least not in the animal world), and now I feel as though I have. Thank You Anna! DL

    Sent from my iPad

  3. irisvillagegirl

    You are so right! Our lives are not any bigger than theirs. You put into words what I feel in my heart! Sorry about the loss of Joe-

  4. Caroline in Portugal

    Anna, the way you write, I think you could get us to fall in love with the snartiest of snarts. What a lovely eulogy.

  5. Lor

    Oh, I love that story…I keep saying goats are in our future. Thanks for giving him a great life, and sharing his story. I’m smiling even though a little tear did leak out.

  6. Susan

    As I recall, I drove into your driveway and saw him standing on top of your vehicle. Seemed quite pleased with himself!

  7. Jo Caruso

    We had pigmy goats at one barn I boarded at years ago. They were forever in trouble, or causing it! The final straw was the day one was standing on the convertible roof of a Mercedes Benz – eating it! They left shortly thereafter. I did miss their antics…

  8. lsterling56

    This brings back (fond?…hmmm…) memories of The Goat Days. I started out with one wether and somehow ended up with a pregnant doe…and then there were three. Not quite sure how it happened – a goat miracle, I guess. You can’t just have one. That’s a goat rule,

  9. Maggie Frazier

    Goats are one of the few animals I have never “known” or “owned”! Always thought the little kids were so cute – but after reading this – I guess that’s the way they sneak into your life. Sorry about Joe & I feel for you thinking of Sumo not being there anymore. These animals, with all their quirks and irritating habits, still find their ways into your heart don’t they? (and I do understand about the horse hairs on the chin)

  10. Beth Weaver

    I am a goat lover as well as a horse lover. When my kids were young I had up to 33 once. I was raising them for pack goats. You can do all kinds of cool things with goats. I agree they are self centered but most animals, including humans, are. I enjoyed them immensely. Then the kids got more interested in horses, and I was busy going back to school, so all but about 2 of my favorites were sold, and they died and I was goatless for a few years. But now the kids are grown and I have gotten interested in backpacking again, so last winter I bought 4 goat kid wethers. Bottle fed them. I takes 2 years before they can carry a pack but they are big now. And so fun. Naughty. They ate my husband’s climbing plant and jumped on his porch table. I had trouble not laughing when he found them. Next spring they will be ready to carry weight and we will go hiking and camping. It will be fun.

  11. Where I live, a rather delicious (when fresh) goat’s cheese is AOL, like the local wine. But for all I’ve tried to love goats, the, er, perfume (“Eau de Chevre”?) reminds me of a white Afghan coat I had in the seventies 😕. However, odour aside, just gotta admire sure a cussed creature and I’m sorry to read that you’ve lost such a wily and insistent member of the Infinity herd.

  12. Awwwwww. That’s as sappy as I promise I’ll get about Joe. We’ve had goats too. Had. Former tense. And that’s how it’s gonna stay for now! 😉

  13. Karen Cooper

    Oh my gosh, I don’t know Joe Goat, but I love Joe Goat! When we were little kids Mom had milk goats. She loved her milk goats…of course she did! We milked them! I swore I would never have goats again, but a good friend has them around and I enjoy them and their kids.

    Years ago we had a billy goat named Buckwheat, and our neighbor wanted him. Buckwheat was a very handsome Nubian goat and loved living there and doing his own thing. The gals neice and her boyfriend showed up in his Trans-Am with t-tops. You know where this is going? That goat spotted the car come in the driveway and made a mad dash for the car. I still picture in my head – in slow motion for the extra drama – and Buckwheat hit the hood first, landed on the t-tops, then did a flying body twist kinda thing before he landed on the back end of the car then down to the ground. I thought the guy was going to kill the goat! Gotta catch him first tho! Ha ha! Me and the neighbor lady couldn’t stop laughing….

    Thanks to you and Joe Goat for bring back great memories! 🙂

  14. Working at the kennel I confess I’ve fallen in love with goats. Our “Joe” was Pheobe, a partially blind goats with a less than cooperative attitude, wicked horns and a deadly aim with the head if I did something she didn’t like. The day she died, we had the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen – I like the notion that the first sunset she got to see was as perfect as a sunset could be. If I ever have the chance, I’ll have a couple of goats in my own menagerie…

  15. Thanks for making me feel a little less crazy (or maybe crazy but less alone)! Initially for milk, but now just family, they rule the farm, knock on the french doors or just sleep on the porch! One of ocd students intent on keeping them in their pen calls them “slippery goats.” My goats come down to the ring while I teach and either flirt with parents, pry their way into lessons or provide a despooking exercise. 😉 No matter their antics, I can’t live without them!

  16. Sara P

    Thanks for giving Joe-goat a happy home and a eulogy. I love my goats, though some are admittedly more lovable than others. We lost our lovely sweet Alex last October and it took the other two several weeks before they started acting normal again. They are kind of sensitive, really!

    1. I hear that. My Sumo is the last of four and very unhappy. These are real lives of goats here, with hearts and minds and feelings. Thanks for you comment.

  17. Antonia C

    Oh thanks for that lovely humourous and goat-accurate eulogy. My adult daughter has two Joe -type goats who regularly lead her small flock of sheep astray, usually towards my garden!

  18. Lynn Gross

    Love reading your “old goat” stories…our twins were Lollie and Rugby, the pigmy’s and the wonderful nubian, Marley. They enriched our lives for many years. My daughter taught them agility along with our corgi’s. They did well, when they wanted to do well. My heart goes out to you and your goatie goats. Lynn

  19. Sandra Murray

    With the help of a vet, I eased our last Cairn Terrier, Ch. Cairncroft Whiskey N Wild Women, out of this world and into the next. Whiskey lived true to the Scottish saying for the breed: The best little pal in the world. Only his liver crashed and failed; his big heart still beat strongly til the euthanizing drugs stopped it. Whether the loss is an obnoxious but loved goat or a best pal like Whiskey, loss is still loss. I miss his black grizzled, furry face and those intense, lively black eyes of his. I miss his snuggle sessions and his sweet doggy kisses. Whiskey adds yet another reason to look forward to the joyous reunions in Heaven. I would bet that even Joe has his own spot there.

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