Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The rural life: Get my goat. Please.


If you listen carefully on any given morning, you might hear me yelling at our goat, around breakfast time. Buddy is a 9-year-old white Saanan wether (Swiss dairy breed; neutered male), and he’s been in our family since he was a kid. An adorably cute kid, I might add — and you might recall if you’ve been reading this column awhile.

He has aged, however, from sweet kid into old goat — in the fullest sense of the term.

He’s cranky. Ill-behaved. A bit like a third-world dictator — set in his ways, a little loony, impossible to reason with. A tyrant.

To be honest, it’s not really his fault. We’ve had him since he was an impressionable youngster, yet he’s never received a lick of training. Despite this, he still leads (reluctantly) by his collar, and stands (defiantly) to have his hooves trimmed.

So I suppose I shouldn’t complain. But I’m going to, anyway.

Buddy is a bully.

Over the holidays, for example, he terrorized my sister and brother-in-law when they came to gather greenery on our property. Sherry and Gene host a magnificent prime-rib dinner every Christmas, and this year Sherry wanted to use clippings from our pyracantha bushes and grey pine trees. (The pyracantha berries can pass for holly berries; pair them with pine boughs and you have a splendid table arrangement.)

So here they were, on our property, clippers in hand, when they were set upon by Dear Leader in a goatee. (I should explain that I open a goat-sized pasture gate every morning to allow Buddy out so he can nibble the brush outside the pasture. I forgot this detail when I told Gene and Sherry, “Sure — c’mon over any time.”)

Gene was trying to put some clippings into the opened tailgate of his SUV when Buddy marched up and grabbed a branch with his weird little goat teeth. A pulling match ensued; Gene, a strong fellow, was able to wrest the clippings away, then he tried to keep the goat backed off by pushing on Buddy’s knobby but hornless head.

This wounded Buddy’s dignity. He drew himself up to his full height, adding an inch by erecting a ridge of wiry hair down his topline. Then he reared and hopped a few time on his hind legs — goatspeak for, “Put up your dukes, punk.”

That did it for Gene and Sher. They grabbed what cuttings they could, threw them on the tailgate, and dove into the car.

“I couldn’t get the door open fast enough,” Sherry told me, later. “That goat was right there.”

As Gene fired the ignition, Buddy kept snatching clippings from the tailgate of the SUV.

“Hey! This is MY FOOD!” seemed to be his general message, not exactly in keeping with the spirit of the holidays. But that’s Buddy. The original Scrooge.

He’s been misbehaving with the horses, too. We adopted Buddy in the first place to be a companion animal to our pony at the time, Diamond. Since then he’s also been pals with Brego, my daughter’s larger “move-up” pony, now retired.

Most recently, he’s been hanging with Brego and Redford, a gelding I was keeping temporarily for a friend. Redford recently returned home, so it’s now back to Brego and Buddy only.

“Just the two of you,” I told them. “Friends and amigos. Buddies!”

Well — not exactly. By the morning after Redford’s departure, Buddy, normally the horses’ best friend, had turned into a despot. I came out to feed and Brego wasn’t waiting patiently in his favorite stall. Instead, he was running from one stall to the other.

At first I thought he was just feeling his oats (in advance), but then I noticed that each time he entered a stall, Buddy darted in and booted him out, deploying the same tactics he’d used on Sherry and Gene.

“Buddy, quit!” I called, to no effect. I put Brego’s grain in the goat-proof manger, and the pony finally bulled his way into the stall (he’s at least four times as large as the goat), put his head down and began eating.

As I watched through the stall’s window, I couldn’t see Buddy, but every two or three seconds I saw evidence of him: Brego’s body shuddering with the impact of the goat’s head slamming into his shoulder.

Not a nice way to eat your breakfast. I’ve made allowances for Buddy before, hoping his behavior would smooth out over time. I probably will do so again.

But every once in a while I can’t help but wish someone would get my goat — permanently.

Jennifer Forsberg Meyer is a biweekly columnist with the Mountain Democrat. Share your thoughts with her at

Jennifer Forsberg Meyer

Jennifer Forsberg Meyer is an award-winning journalist and author with three published books to her credit. Currently she is a senior editor with Horse & Rider magazine. Jennifer lives in rural Latrobe with her husband, Hank; their daughter, Sophie Elene; and the family’s assorted animals.

Discussion | 1 comment

  • francescaduchamp@att.netJanuary 21, 2013 - 10:01 am

    LOLOLOLOL I read read a book full of stories like this--fun to start the morning with...thank you

    Reply | Report abusive comment


EDH Fire Dept. annexing Latrobe

By Noel Stack | From Page: A1

Motorcycle fatality in Greenwood

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1

Greenwood School being restored

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Cal Fire increasing staffing, hiring

By Cal Fire | From Page: B1

EID restricts watering days

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A1, 9 Comments

Lover’s Leap fall injures man

By Tahoe Tribune | From Page: A1

Tea Party meeting April 17

By Tea Party Patriots Of El Dorado Hills | From Page: A3

Town Hall Meeting on Underage Drinking May 1

By El Dorado Hills Community Vision Coalition | From Page: A6

Floating body not a body

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A7

Old mill a goner

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A11, 2 Comments | Gallery



My turn: A fair California flat income tax

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

DA Pierson has been outstanding

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4, 4 Comments



A great big thanks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Murder? Suicide?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

‘Drive Clean’

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Middle class getting poorer?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Real estate lies

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment



Outside with Charlie: Switch gear

By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A8

Ponderosa volleyball is a family affair

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Aussie team makes visit

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A8

Griz have challenging day

By Mike Bush | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Roundup: April 15, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery



At a glance: Take aim on fun

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Men to walk a mile in her shoes

By Center For Violence-Free Relationships | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Runners stampede for Sugarloaf scholarships

By El Dorado County Office of Education | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Team works to fight disease

By Placerville Kiwanis | From Page: B3

COOL School is accepting applications

By Rescue Union | From Page: B4

Band of Miwoks fund mission

By Shingle Springs Band Of Miwok Indians | From Page: B12



Crime Log: March 25-27

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

Weather stats 4-15-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2



Ronald Russell Rohrer

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Numa Edward “Ed” Roberts

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




By Contributor | From Page: A10


By Contributor | From Page: A10

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A10


By Contributor | From Page: A10

Horoscope, Thursday, April 17, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A10

Horoscope, Wednesday, April 16, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A10

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A10


By Contributor | From Page: A10

Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A10

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A10

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A10