This is the year of the fainting goat


Ringing in 2010 with our house filled with exuberant friends, I couldn’t help but feel joyous and hopeful about starting a whole new decade.

I have read that 2010 is the year of the tiger in Chinese lore. Here on our farm, 2010 will likely be remembered as the year of the fainting goat.

Each year, I make out a silly Christmas wish list. For way too many years to count, I have wished for a swing. Just a simple tree swing, because I have always loved that weightless thrill of swinging toward the big sky. If there is no swimming pool or farm pond in which to dive and swim, swinging is the next best thing.

A fainting goat

This year, when I made out my silly wish list, I jotted a fainting goat on it. I placed this little wish right along with the dream for artistic ability. Well, I am decidedly no more artistic, so that wish was not granted. But, on Christmas Eve, my hubby asked me to walk down to the barn with him. He had something to show me.

When I laid eyes on the little white goat with a few splashes of black, I instantly named him Clover. He is a young wether, and he was decidedly lonely. Doug had been looking through the Dec. 24 edition of Farm and Dairy, and had a possible candidate to keep Clover company.

It was a blisteringly cold afternoon when we drove to meet the young farm woman named Hannah who had a premium fainting doe goat for sale. I was impressed with Hannah’s enthusiasm and could have stood and talked to her all day long.

The only reason “Dolly” was for sale is that Hannah is busy with nursing school and has decided to cut back a bit while also focusing more on dairy goats. Having grown up working on their family dairy farm, Hannah’s reasoning made perfect sense to me.

She pointed out a cute little Nubian doe to me and said, “When I’m having a bad day, all I have to do is look at her, and she always puts me in a good mood!” The silly little goat seemed to know Hannah was talking about her, and she tipped her head and bleated out a response.

A companion

We loaded Dolly up and brought her to our farm to be a companion to Clover. Clover loved the idea. Dolly seemed intent on putting Clover in his place with a few head butts and a body slam. Doug put up a dividing gate so that Clover could still see his surrogate mom without being forced to take her abusive discipline.

The talk of the place

I haven’t had the heart to “scare” either of my goats in to fainting. So far, I have tried to focus on making them feel welcome in their new surroundings. The two have been the talk of the place, and friends have just had to see them to believe them. One of Caroline’s girlfriends thought Clover was so cute she had to give him a kiss on New Years’ Eve. I’m not sure Clover realized or appreciated the significance.

Hannah told us there is a possibility that Dolly might be bred, which means that we could possibly double our fainting goat herd in the coming months.

I will keep you posted.


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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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