Tragedy in the goat pen?


Smeck (photo by Jen Alley)

Sunday morning I was up and at em early. I figured I would let the goats out to graze for a bit before it got too hot. I got to the pen, and opened the gate, but the goats were at the far end of the enclosure, and didn’t seem to want to come out.

Billy and Kramer were standing back to me with their heads turned to look at me. They were standing over Smeck who was laying in the sun.

I called to them, and Billy and Kramer walked over slowly, looking back at Smeck who was still just lying there. When they got to the gate they stood inside the pen looking out. Billy glanced up at me, looked back at Smeck, and bleated. Kramer looked out past me to the grain storage, then back at Smeck and bleated.

I was a little concerned about Smeck, because he still hadn’t moved. I called the other two again, and hesitantly they stepped out of the pen, and off to my right between the pen, and the raspberry bushes. They just stood there peering inside at Smeck.

I called to him, but he didn’t move. Finally I stepped inside the pen, afraid that he was very sick, or perhaps even dead. Smeck, Billy, and Kramer are what is known in the goat community as “wethers”, meaning they have been castrated. A veterinary technician friend of mine recently told me that wethers don’t really need grain, and in fact, it can be bad for them so if I decided to give them some now and again, it should just be a small amount, because it causes problems in their kidneys.

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I have recently started using goat grain to bribe them away from the chicken feed, or to coax them  back into their pen.  I had fully intended to research the condition too much grain can cause, but hadn’t really gotten around to it yet. I was dreading the trip into the pen. I have no real idea how old these goats are, for all I know, they are elderly. I wasn’t ready to lose one yet.

Timidly I stepped into the pen, and was about to walk across when Billy and Kramer made a run for the grain bin! They were irritated to discover that there was no chicken feed on the ground, and that the cover was tightly on the galvanized trash can I use to store my grain.

I was about to go out and shoo them off when I heard from behind me, “Outta the way fat boy!”, and the sound of a single goat stampede, as Smeck rammed me from behind, skirted between my legs, and made a dash to join his buddies at the grain can!

He was playing dead to throw me off guard, and give Kramer and Billy a chance to make a raid on the grain can!

Jen and William still hadn’t come out to help me yet, so I tried in vain to shoo them down to the back lawn where they could graze on whatever they wanted. What they wanted was to eat chicken feed, or my grapes, so they did all they could to keep me occupied while their partners in crime attempted to breech the gate that separates the front yard, and the back yard.

Round and round they ran. I would swat at them with my ski pole…er um…”HEP” stick, and tell em “HEP GOATS! Get on outta here! HEP!!!” They would just laugh and sing “Ring a round the raspberries, chased by a fat guy, ha-ha, ha-ha, we hope he falls DOWN!”, and then one of them would rush me to try and knock me down to get out the gate.

I was about to play dirty, and con them with a few goat pellets, but they heard William come out the front door, and POOF! In the blink of an eye, they were in the back yard happily munching fresh green grass, like they wanted to be there all along!

I could hear them down their whispering to each other, and giggling.  I thought to myself, “Go ahead you goat b@$$t@rd$!  We’ll see who’s laughing when I come home with A CATTLE PROD!”  Then I let out a maniacal laugh that came out louder than I intended.  I know the goats heard me, cause the whispering stopped.  Then for the first time ever, when they filled their rumens they trotted one by one into their pen to go sip some water, and never once tried to head for the grain.

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.