My daughter LeAnna, my niece Linda, and I took my grandson – 18 month old Isaac – to the Michigan City petting zoo a couple of years ago. It was a beautiful summer day, and Isaac was naturally drawn to the goat pen, an open air enclosure brimming with goats. Goat fever was still coursing through my veins from our first two free goats, Billy Butt and Jasper. I stood there admiring how cute these mini goats were, wishing I could have one to add to Addie Acres! I noted that the goats at this family friendly zoo were very fat from all the extra treats offered by kids with sticky little hands and begging voices, “Mama and Daddy, I NEED another quarter for the food machine.” We all fed the animals until we had invested at least $10.00 to the zoo's grain fund but rationalized that it was for a "good cause".
As I was admiring the goats, an attendant walked into their pen and started to clean up after the cutie pies. Bright Idea #1 popped up over my head, just like a balloon quote in the cartoons! I heard myself ask, "So what do you guys do with all the baby goats after their born? I can see you have a few on the way!" She laughed at me and said, "They’re not pregnant, just fat." I turned red and laughed with her as LeAnna and Linda made fun of me. The young woman then asked me, "Do you want a goat? We were told this week that our budget was cut and we need to give away some of the animals." Before Linda and LeAnna could stop me I was on to, you guessed it, Bright Idea #2. Now flashing along with #1, I thought to myself, "Heck yeah, such cute goats!" Then, in a moment of reasoning I thought, "Wait a minute, didn't we just try this goat stuff … twice now??" I almost worked my way through the urge, when the attendant casually stated, “did I mention, they are free to good homes”. All I heard was the word FREE and sanity waned.
She let me in the large goat area with around 20 think-their-still-starving animals circling us like ravenous wolves. The nice girl told me they come in pairs so I need to pick out TWO. Woo hoo … two goats for the price of one! I attached myself to Dillon who leaned against me, giving me a hug (which he still does to this day), and the somewhat shy Sierra kind of hung with him like they were a loving couple. She wasn’t as cuddly but she had a fun personality, and if I wanted Dillon, she came along with him. I almost yelled out the words, "YES! I WANT THEM ... I WANT THEM ALL!" But two is all I thought Chad would tolerate after our last misadventures.
LeAnna and Linda knowingly shook their heads as Isaac excitedly clapped his hands as I thought, "That’s my boy! We’ll make a farmer out of him yet." I quickly drove home to tell Chad the "good news", making sure I used the word FREE over and over. If I was in my right mind, I would have felt sorry for him. He deeply sighed knowing that it was a losing battle once I get my FREE ANIMAL mindset in full swing.
Chad and I drove over to the zoo that weekend so he could meet our new family members. We found our goats, shook hands with the zoo keeper and loaded them both in the back of my Ford Windstar van … yes, you read that right, a mini-van. We didn't have a proper trailer. Chad and I drove home in silence, me with a huge smile and Chad with a look I really didn't want to interpret.
We hadn't gone far, when Dillon and Sierra made it clear they didn't care much for the back end of a cramped vehicle. She baaaad over and over while Dillon made his way to the front seat sticking his head between us. So we drove home – fast – with a loud crying in the back end and a goat head almost in the windshield watching the road with us. Chad muttered something about "there is probably a law about Driving Under the Influence of a Goat." I’m sure we turned a few heads in some cars that day and boy am I glad a cop didn't pass us! I wondered as well if they give out tickets for goats not being buckled in. Chad assured me they didn't as "one less goat really isn't going to make a difference."
We introduced the new Addie Acres' members to the horses that gave them the evil eye look along with a few grunts letting them know that they have been through this goat nonsense twice before and expected no funny business. The llamas took one look at them and ran to the back pasture, afraid that butting would once again be the new barn game.
Dillon and Sierra quickly took to their new home, exploring every nook and cranny, running around in the large fenced in area just for them. I stayed with my new sweeties petting and hugging them as Chad drug himself to the main barn gathering all the used goat toys, buckets and sweet grain he could muster from previous forays. Dillon and Sierra fit in with us and the other animals perfectly. They kept to themselves, never butted and were not interested in escaping as long as they had plenty of food. They did, however, develop the unusual habit of staring at the house for hours until we came out to feed them, especially the girl, Sierra. Regardless of the weather – like rain coming down in sideways sheets – Sierra would be out at the gate watching for signs of humans. If thunder and lightning struck, even within what seemed a few feet away, Sierra would be staring! Snow storm? Totally still, she’s staring! Tornado sirens blasting "danger" with wind gusting up to 50 miles an hour? Yep, she’s staring! Hundred-degree weather? She’s staring! Ate two minutes ago? She’s staring! We still treasure Sierra and Dillon. Sierra stares and Dillon gives us a hug every time we go out to the barn. I believe that with free goats, the old saying "third time’s a charm" is true. Yet, there is an addition to the staring protocol of late that Sierra has taken on, climbing high atop any available object, then as you may have guessed, staring! Like royalty, Queen Sierra on her throne waiting on high for her servant farmers.