Animals make the world a little better



Farm and Dairy Columnist

On a beautiful, crisp autumn morning, I decided it was time to get out and walk the farm before heading in to work for the day.

The first thing I wanted to do was check on my fainting goats, just recently moved from their pretty little pasture in to a large pen inside the barn. I could hear the braying of the little ones as I walked toward the barn.


The sound of the stall door opening summoned our farm dogs. Thinking that perhaps I needed help herding the easy-going goats, Holden bolted into the pen before I could get the door closed.

Little black and white Alfalfa fainted in no time flat, breaking even his own speedy faint record. Alfalfa falls to his side, lying stiffly in a faint.

Next to Alfalfa was Clover, a much bigger, mostly white wether goat with black markings. When Clover faints, his front legs sort of buckle and he takes a header, falling forward, then flips over, legs straight up in the air. If a fellow didn’t know better, you would think he was a goner.


This happened to be the first time Holden ever was in a confined pen with a fainting goat. He looked at the goat, looked back at me, then sort of did a shudder shake as if to say, “What the heck am I supposed to do now?”

A herding dog does not know how to herd a bunch of fainting goats, and I am not much help, because I can’t stop laughing.

My nephew stopped over one night as we were heading out the lane. He hadn’t yet seen the fainting goats, so we instructed him where to find them and told him to have fun.

No response

About 20 minutes later, my cell phone rang. Bryan said, “OK, Where is the hidden camera? I just made a complete fool of myself and never once did any of those goats faint. I think you are playing a trick on me, telling me those are fainting goats just to see me look like an idiot.”

I assured him I had no idea why they didn’t faint for him, and jokingly told him I couldn’t wait to watch the film.

Later that evening, when we got home, Doug threw a slice of hay in to the pen for them, and two of them fainted dead away. Sometimes, they baffle us in this way, because there is no rhyme or reason to what makes them faint.


Recently, our good friend Sandy gave us two adorable little pygmy goats. They couldn’t be any cuter if they tried, and they make a nice addition to my little herd. I could stand and watch them all day long, jumping and playing.

Another recent addition to our farm is an English shepherd male pup. In a nod of respect to the farm dog of my youth, I decided to name him Bill, the same name my dad had chosen for that long-ago herding master.

I look at this 6-month-old pup with big paws to fill, and am amazed at the stock dog sense he already displays. Even though I love my job, some days it is mighty hard to get in the car and leave for work.


I know that when I return, I will be greeted by all the creatures that make life on this farm so enchanting. If everyone could say the same, there is no doubt in my mind that life on this planet would certainly be more peaceful.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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