Beware Free Goats

I 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

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!

Published on Feb 3, 2014

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