Our first free goat, Billy Butt, was short-lived on our farm due to his need to constantly ‘play,’ but that experience was not enough to settle my desire for cuteness. Since I’ve been writing about goats of late, I will tell about our 2nd FREE goat. Jasper!
You would think that after Billy, red flags would be easy to recognize. Well they’re not! Jasper came to us approximately three months after Billy went to live at his new playground. Jasper had been raised by an elderly lady who kept him in the house for the first year of his life. He was treated like a child, and he expected nothing less from Addie Acres when he joined our family.
Jasper took over Billy’s old pen, the perfect goat area! It had a cozy two-room shelter with a thick straw bed, a special wood ‘goat pole’ that we put up so he could scratch his horns and take care of any itch he may have. The large private pasture for running, playing and sun lounging even came with a small dirt hole for an occasional body dust bath. Jasper had a couple of good points from the start. He was already fixed and even though he liked to play, he wasn’t a ‘butting’ goat (big plus following Billy Butt!). He gleefully would push around colorful beach balls, muzzle our hand for a massage and show unusual affection toward us, the now ‘head goats.’
In fact, he was so human-like, we quickly found he had an unusual talent. Regardless of the type of pen, he was able to escape. It didn’t matter how high, strong or creative, he would watch and simply do as the humans did and find a way out. Unlike Billy Butt and his pushy play, Jasper the goat would escape so he could trot up to the house looking for his human family. He would spend hours, unnoticed, wandering the farm and occasionally nibble on my tasty forbidden prized bush. We reinforced the fence, replacing most of it with horse fencing, pounded in a few heavy duty posts to prevent him from pushing a wall down and used a variety of netting to discourage the unwanted forays.
We followed the advice of friends and goat blogs as we discovered goats are famous for finding a weak spot in the fence or locating a hole as small as a guinea pig that they can hook their horns into until it is big enough to squeeze through. If he could work his head through an opening, his whole body would follow without effort! Jasper would work on his pen every day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! More often than not, I would go to sit on the porch for morning coffee only to find him standing on the porch next to my white wicker furniture staring with dancing eyes, tail wagging and a what’s-for-breakfast look. He was patiently waiting for me to come out to share food, the beginning of a new day and, of course, to play. So many “family adventures, so little time” seemed to be Jasper’s mantra.
The neighboring daycare folks knocked regularly to inform us that our escapee was out enjoying their once well-groomed exotic flowers. We would find ourselves in the middle of a suspenseful movie only to see peering yellow eyes staring at us through the window with a midnight backdrop behind him. Yep, we caught him standing on his hind legs, front hooves on the window sill, looking in the family room trying to join life inside the house. Jasper was friendly, VERY friendly! He didn’t want to be alone with the mere llamas and mini-horses of the barn world and wasn’t going to take no for an answer to the ‘where is my bedroom in the house’ question.
I really liked Jasper, he was cute as a button and loved his humans! But he refused to be caged and enjoyed his freedom too much. It finally got to the point that we needed to find him a home with farmers who knew how to keep a Houdini inside the barn. So after a few short months, we gave Jasper, for FREE, to a young lady who had visited during our adventures and had fallen in love with him despite knowing his unique need to escape. She was active in 4-H and excited to show his loving personality off at the fair. Luckily, this teenage girl was raised on a large farm, experienced in taking care of goats. She was willing to take Jasper the escape artist goat and teach him proper farm manners.
When the day came to say goodbye, I was sad. I gave him a hug and helped load him into her trailer. I watched my happy goat ride down the gravel driveway, his furry behind sticking out, tail wagging as the dusty white cloud enveloped them. I was disappointed that once again I couldn’t satisfy my love for goats, yet relieved that I didn’t have to chase him down five days a week, worrying he might be struck by a car. Our ‘goat-less’ days lasted for about eight months, the next two FREE goats came from the Michigan City petting zoo. Their caretaker promised that they wouldn’t try to escape or butt, reassuring us that because they were hand raised at the zoo, they were good with the many kids who visited them. Yes, they, too, have a story. Enter Dillon and Sierra, the ever-watchful, people-herding, wafer-addicted Staring Goats!