Janet Bercot

Issue No. 18 • Spring 2017

The story I most want to tell right now is about Louie, one of my goats. He's my favorite goat, the nicest goat, and something that has always made me happy. Whenever I tell this story at the farmer's markets, people always get a kick out of it, and I think that's something we all need right now. I'm so sick of talking about politics and immigration and heavy things, and especially living in Oregon where everything is so divided, I think right now I just want to tell you about Louie.   So back in the early fall of 2016, it was all three goats, and those were my triplets and they were my only adult male goats. So in the enclosure, we had Huey, Louie, and Dewey, and then we had Minnie. Daphne had died a little earlier in the year, which was a terrible loss to us, but it wasn't horrible because our goats were for wool, not for milk, so irrespective of their gender it didn't matter as long as we had goats at all. So it was those four goats in their pen for the longest time, on the upper field, along with two guard llamas: Royal and Queenie. So we had all 6 goats and llamas and that was that, until Minnie got pregnant. It was our first time dealing with a pregnant goat, all of these had been bought from breeders, but we figured we would take the chance and let the pregnancy come to term. It was getting a little late though, in the winter, and even though goats generally do really well in the winter as long as they sleep in the shed, a pregnant goat is much more precarious. To this end, we decided it would be best to move Minnie into the barn, where it's heated and she would be much safer from the coyotes. So we moved her into the barn, initially just at nights, but eventually she stopped wanting to leave. Goats are pregnant for about 5 months, so in about November she stopped wanting to leave the barn, even during the day. She was really large and really vulnerable, and the vet said she could detect 2 heartbeats, so Minnie was even larger than the average pregnant goat. We felt like keeping her in the barn was the best course of action, but Louie thought otherwise.   Because our enclosure is "goat-proof" meaning that their acre-or-so of roaming room is enclosed to protect from coyotes, Louie had no way of roaming into the barn, or so we thought. It turns out, Royal had been leaning his head over the side of the enclosure, unlatching it, and letting Louie out. From there, he would pick apples from our apple tree with his mouth, and literally bring them over to Minnie, who was asleep in the barn. While he couldn't get through the gate into her pen inside the barn, he would sleep outside on the cold ground in the barn hallway, watching Minnie eat her apple until she fell asleep. We found them like this for a couple of nights, apple bits and leaves littering her pen, until we decided to give Louie his own pen in the barn, right next door to hers. I guess he just couldn't be away from her.   Once Minnie finally gave birth in late January, we discovered three things: 1) she was giving birth to triplets, carrying on the Huey Jr., Dewey Jr. and Louie Jr. legacy, 2) her kids had bright white wool, meaning that they were Dewey's, not Louie's, and 3) you just can't break goat love, especially goat love triangles.   In the end, I guess we learned that to goats, love is love, even if the one your love is giving birth to your brother's kids. (And also that we need more female goats... things are getting a little weird out there.)