The little fainting goat who wouldn’t


Prancing like a pony, my little goat named Mabel is very sure of herself. Mabel is said to be a fainting goat, but with such bluster and self-assurance, I say she is the fainting goat who wouldn’t faint.

Mabel shares a lovely, large pasture here with our colorful Welsh ponies, Miss Fancy Pants and her spring foal, Cisco, and another mare, who is sort of like a pick-up kid in a backyard game of baseball.

We named her Sierra, and she went from being bony ribs and overgrown hooves to a fine and happy addition to the group. Sierra showed up one day, led by our neighbor boy, Henry.

Pony gift

He explained that a man who came to their farm to buy produce one day inquired how they would like a pony. He saw children playing and working about the farm, and must have figured a nice Amish family would surely love to add a pony to the place.

They politely declined.

A few days later, the man came back with the pony mare, got her out of the small trailer and handed the lead rope to the first child he saw, then drove away.

Henry said, “We really have no use for a pony. Would you take her?” I wanted to point out that we really have no productive use for a pony, either, but my hubby and I agreed this pitiful soul needed care in the worst way.

Over the course of days and weeks, I took baby carrots and apple slivers and other small treats to the newly-named Sierra. She was as friendly a pony anyone could dream up, and she gently accepted treats from the palm of my hand.

She loved to be brushed and fussed over and would come to a whistle every single time. She behaved nicely for the farrier, and gave no complaint about anything asked of her.

Mabel the non-fainting goat began pairing up with Sierra. I would look up almost any time of the day and see Sierra grazing with Mabel at her side.

When treat time came, Mabel stepped it up into high gear and tried to beat the pony to it.

The standoffs

When the very showy Miss Fancy Pants was turned in to the pasture with her beautifully-marked colt, the huffing and puffing, standoffs and posturing all took place as expected.

If ever the opportunity to faint presented itself in bold letters, this was it. Mabel never showed any inkling to do anything but stand strong beside her new best friend, Sierra.

Summer gave way to fall, and Cisco the colt has grown into a bold showman, incredible to watch.

He starts out prancing, holding his head and his tail high, working up to a full-out run in the wide-open pasture.

Miss Fancy Pants is relieved to let him go, and Sierra has accepted that her galloping days are over, so she watches the show without attempting to keep up.

Mabel is not so accepting. She struts and lets out a series of protests and does the goat version of a canter, all stiff-legged and dopey as can be, making a quarter of a loop to Cisco’s twenty laps.

If Mabel could talk, though, she would tell us she is the winner of this contest, every single time. I had long ago figured out this four-legged comedian is not a fainting goat.

What I have come to realize is that Mabel refuses to believe she is any kind of goat at all.


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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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