Grit Blogs > Addie Acres

Beware Free Goats

Nancy AddieI need to write about our first goat ... Billy Butt. Yes, that was his real name. He came by the surname quite naturally as will be explained here in painstaking detail. Chad and I were just getting started in the 'farm business' when a man with two children tagging along came to our garage sale at our new home. He asked if he could take his children over to pet the mini-horses and see the “Addie Acres” llamas up close. Of course we said yes, after all, that is why we felt led to get some large animals, to share our place with folks who had youngsters.

After a few minutes of friendly chit chat, he mentioned that they purchased a young Nubian goat from the Amish almost six months ago and Billy was getting too big for their backyard. He asked us if would like to have him ... for free! The kids backed up their dad as he explained the many wonders of this young goat and what a charming pet he had been. How could we resist such ringing commendations, so of course we said “yes!” After all, never turn down a free animal when you're starting up a farm was our early mantra.

Bill Butt the Goat
Bill Butt, the Goat

Since we were new at this large animal stuff, it didn't click inside our heads that there is always a good reason why people want to give away a perfectly good goat (remember the Doritos Superbowl commercial?!). That should have been Red Flag No. 1! 

We agreed to meet 'Billy' the next day to see if he would fit in with our family. We met Billy in the backyard of a modest house where they kept a few chickens and a very large black lab. 

Red Flag No, 2 was about to show itself. Billy came running straight for us as fast as his little goat legs would trot, stopping only when his horns were firmly planted on my husband Chad's behind. We nervously laughed as Billy's mom commented over and over how cute it is that he likes to 'play' ... a lot ... non stop ... continually. I found the notion of a playful goat endearing and especially enjoyed the accuracy of Billy’s first foray into Chad’s behind. 

Red Flag No. 3 came when the kids automatically hid behind both parents as Billy tried to play with everyone within sight. However, we were ‘goat blind’ as I had always wanted a cute little goat and this seemed the perfect opportunity, and did I mention, he was FREE after all! 

We took him home, in the back of our Windstar van. Billy was an adorable looking goat with big horns and a non-stop 'woo hoo' attitude. His playfulness consisted of butting everything that breathed ... the mini-horses, which kicked their hind legs at him ... the llamas, that ran away, which made him very happy since that meant CHASE, and anything else that seemed interesting in the mind of a torpedo goat! If you moved, he butted ... if you stood still ... he butted … if you came outside ... he butted. He wasn't mean, he was just a typical 'boy being a boy’ billy goat! 

After a couple of months of the butting game, Billy started to take on the billy goat gruff attitude. He was beginning to smell like a mature goat and had the increasingly male goat unfixed STINK. Billy needed an 'operation,' and Chad seemed gleeful at the prospect. We were hoping that after his castration he would settle down and become the goat of my childhood dreamed fairy tales.

Hope is a funny word when it comes to goats though. My wishful hope did not come true. Billy just wanted to continue to PLAY HARD! Soooooo, we learned to run faster than him in zig zag patterns and resorted even to concocting elaborate escape plans before we ventured inside his pen. 

Chad and I tried to feed him together as one of us distracted him so the other could sneak in, fill up his food dish and water bucket, trying to be as quiet as barn mice. If he heard you, he got into play position, head bent low, horns poised with determination to butt. 

We tried with Billy, we really did try. We changed how we did farm chores, we gave him balls to play with and learned how to be sneaky. However, after a LONG frustrating year, we too offered him for FREE to some folks who I'm sure had Red Flags swaying in the back of their minds as we commented over and over how cute it is that he likes to play! Then, we attempted our next FREE goat, Jasper, BUTT that’s another story!

nebraskadave
2/9/2014 8:28:46 AM

Nancy, welcome to the GRIT blogging community. Goats are indeed a test of patience and the human psyche, especially the Billy. I personally haven't had goats but I have heard plenty of stories such as yours about the playful curious nature of them. On the other hand, if you can keep them contained and under control they are natural hedgehogs in that they will clear brush out of an area including Poison Ivy. I can't believe any thing could eat Poison Ivy and survive but I read that they can do it. If you need a fence tested, they are your animal to do it. Good luck with your next goat. ***** Have a great goat day.


lup
2/6/2014 1:45:03 PM

Nancy, I can relate I had to chuckle after reading your story. I got 2 goats a nanny and a billy. The billy goat would not stay in their field was constantly jumping the fence. I ended up having to put a collar on him and chained him to a tire so he couldn't jump out of the fence. I got them as companions for my daughter's horse, they became fast friends. But the goat had to go along on rides or he bawled the whole time. But when he decided he was ready to come home the horse was ready too. Made my daughter so mad, lol. I think most billy goats end up being a pain, or tied to a dog box. I hope your having better luck with Jasper, of course the billy's are best when neutered unless of course your breeding goats. Have a great day and God Bless!!!! Lu


lup
2/6/2014 1:44:21 PM

Nancy, I can relate I had to chuckle after reading your story. I got 2 goats a nanny and a billy. The billy goat would not stay in their field was constantly jumping the fence. I ended up having to put a collar on him and chained him to a tire so he couldn't jump out of the fence. I got them as companions for my daughter's horse, they became fast friends. But the goat had to go along on rides or he bawled the whole time. But when he decided he was ready to come home the horse was ready too. Made my daughter so mad, lol. I think most billy goats end up being a pain, or tied to a dog box. I hope your having better luck with Jasper, of course the billy's are best when neutered unless of course your breeding goats. Have a great day and God Bless!!!! Lu


hurketthillfarm
2/6/2014 9:56:30 AM

When you have goats, you need to be the top goat! I have a small herd of 3 dairy does and a whether. I have a constant power struggle, err... I mean "education", with my 2 year old whether Skooter. When he was smaller and I could lift him, I would pin him to the ground until he submitted (relaxed and stopped fighting me). I would physically dominate him without hurting him. Now that he is bigger and I can't lift him, I pinch his ear and tell him "be nice!". He forgets himself around food as he is a walking stomach. Skooter is a bit shy around strangers. He either hides behind me or leans against me like he needs some reassurance. I would never put up with head butting! I think I would have sent Billy Butt to the abattoir instead of passing him along to another unsuspecting family. He could really hurt someone!


amanda
2/5/2014 9:20:47 PM

Lol! I love the story. We got a free pony at one point and after a long year we gave her away too! For similar reasons above. Free should always make you worried. Haha


mary
2/5/2014 1:37:05 PM

What a great story! We just got our first goats in September...one was free. Yep...that's usually a clear indication something's wrong..but he was a LaMancha, those cute elf ears made him a must-have! And just like you...tucked him in the back of our Expedition and gladly brought him home. For us, it all turned out okay. He has been the usual jumping/playful goat, but no horns (and already a wether) both made for a world of difference in his play. He's blended in with the others and all is well. Can't wait to read about Jasper! -Mary, Windy Meadows Farm