Betsy, dealing with her 'Little Goat Syndrome' resourcefully.
'The Sister', our last geriatric old goat has passed away, leaving us goatless for the first time in 22 years. It's strange to look out the window and see no goat wandering around - always on the wrong side of the fence. So often we'd have people who were driving by, stop in to say 'Your goats are out'. We'd say, 'Thanks, but they live out'. They'd say 'Don't they run away?' Really, where would they go - and why would they go? They had already escaped.
Ashley was our Heidi - they were technically her goats. She got Joseph when he was 3 days old & she got up every three hours to feed him. He lived in the house until he outgrew Pampers. It was hard to convince her when it was time for him to move to the barn. Sadly, he had an accident shortly after that - a huge heartbreak for a loving little girl.
When Emma arrived, again just days old, Brian was so paranoid about Ashley having to go through that again, he wouldn't leave Emma alone. When Ash was at school, Emma went everywhere he went. I would go to the bank or the post office and people would ask 'How's Emma?' On one excursion, Brian picked up a hitch hiker. When he got out, he said 'Thanks man - but I gotta tell ya - that's the ugliest dog I've ever seen.' Another time, he brought Emma to visit us at the lake - her sitting right beside him in the seat of the little Spitfire. Everywhere we went, people would gather - even the chef came out of the restaurant to see her. One lady called to her children 'Come look at the little reindeer'. Another said 'What other kind of exotic animals do you have?' Being Sorta-Farmers, we didn't exactly consider goats exotic. Our son, who was 15 at the time, decided that a goat was a far bigger 'babe magnet' than any fancy car or motorcycle and borrowed her to 'troll the beach'.
Emma went everywhere. She was at church a number of times - which was appropriate as Ashley, when she was little, insisted that they were saying 'In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Goat'. One of the favourite images that I carry is of Emma on Christmas Eve. Our very creative pastor made up a story for the children of how there really was a goat in the nativity - so he borrowed Emma. At the end of the service, they turn off all the lights and sing 'Silent Night' by candle light. It is so beautifully peaceful and moving. Amidst 350 people, Emma went to the middle of the aisle and laid down, as if on cue. When the lights came on and everyone was leaving, she wasn't going to be disturbed from her zone. She laid there, calmly chewing on some imaginary cud, while everyone had to walk around her.
Emma, even after supposedly moving to the barn, believed that she was a House Goat. I would come in the house to find her laying on the couch, watching TV. She'd go to the bread basket and help herself. I'd say to Ashley 'Do you know how much it bugs me to have that goat in the house' and she'd answer 'Do you know how much it bugs me to have her in the barn?' Stalemate. Brian was on her side.
It's going to be very strange this year to be able to put geraniums any where I want, instead of only in pots that I hung from the clothes line every night. Geraniums to a goat are like a red cloth to a bull. My flower beds have always been sadly lacking, but we certainly have collected a far greater wealth of stories from the goats than we ever could have from plants.