Caprine Chaos - My career as Assistant Goat Wrangler

Published on Tue, 05/08/2018 - 8:30am

My sister has enlisted my help on a project today, and it's a new one for me: she's trimming goat hooves, and this time I am her helper.

This is not as easy as it sounds.

Oh, she has all the equipment—the special tools and the special stand and some special goats—and the goats are surprisingly enthused about having their hooves trimmed. Repetitions of "mehhh, mehhh, mehh" echo down the barn aisle and it's apparent that the mehhs translate to something like "What-are-we-doing-what-is-that-thing-oh-you-are-holding-my-hoof!-this-is-so-fun-I-love-having-my-hooves-trimmed-I-love-you-people" and on and on and on.

But the palpable excitement of the goats—while endearing—adds an element of unpredictability to the project. At first the goats jump on the stand. They jump off the stand. They crawl under the stand. They run around the stand. They chew on your jacket. They chase each other. In the midst of all of this caprine chaos, my sister calmly trims each little hoof with the patience and serenity that comes, I'm beginning to understand, from spending time around goats.

Obviously, I have not spent enough time around goats, because I'm not feeling quite as calm about the situation. I'm in charge of encouraging each goat to hold still during the trimming process, and this feels like a big responsibility. I scratch the goat's chest, I talk to him, I feed him fig bars, which he promptly devours. In a few minutes, we finish the first goat and start on the second goat. The first goat runs around, wailing, because his best friend is on the stand and he's not—plus, he already ate his fig bar and now he is mad.

"You know," my sister says thoughtfully as she sets down her hoof trimmer, "I want to have a dairy goat operation sometime. But getting started with a dairy goat herd is an expensive proposition," she says sadly. I don't realize that the punch line is coming until it comes—

"Maybe I'll start a Goat-Fund-Me campaign." And she chuckles softly as the freshly trimmed goats continue their dance of fig bar-fueled joy.