My bucolic birthday

mountain_goat.jpgYou know the dilemma: What to get for the guy who has everything?

Well, I can’t say I actually have everything.  But, relatively speaking, I live very comfortably. Certainly I have everything I need.  Except maybe . . . a goat.

That’s right. I’ve always had a fond spot for goats, not sure why exactly.  We’ve got enough room in the yard for one, I’m pretty sure, especially one of those miniature guys with the short legs.  Though I have to say I go more for the majestic mountain goat type than the petting-zoo variety. I keep trying to convince Liz (my dear spouse) how homey it would feel to come back from work and find our new friends cavorting around the back forty, looking out eagerly across the fence (the severely chewed fence, she would say), wagging their tails.  I’m not actually sure that goats do that, but they are supposed to be really smart.  Liz tells me they can unlock fence gates.  In fact she has indicated that an unexpected arrival of goats on our property would be considered a stringent test of our marriage.  Being a practical person, she tends to focus on the prospect of the critters climbing up on the AC unit, eating the azaleas, and fence posts, and electrical cable, and so on.  Then there’s the vet bills and what not. So, alas, I had resigned myself to a goatless life.  Maybe I could get another hermit crab. Until now

It turns out I have another chance — sympathizing with my plight, my family chipped in to adopt a goat for my birthday!  Yes.  The goats live not with us, but in a wholesome community of other livestock and various organic vegetable fields and probably a lot of Grateful Dead playing in the background, at the Garden Harvest farm, a not-for-profit farm outside of Baltimore, Maryland, run by full-time volunteers.  Here’s what they’re about:

“Our mission is the alleviation of hunger & the improvement of nutrition of economically disadvantaged citizens worldwide.  We accomplish this by the establishment of community farms that teach people of all ages & any ethnic background methods of organic, sustainable production of fruit, vegetables, eggs, & wool, and in the near future milk & cheese, so they can learn how to grow food for themselves & for others, and in ways that regenerate the Earth’s precious soil.  All crops produced at Garden Harvest farms are given to the poor . . . 

Garden Harvest’s goats are of the alpine breed, capable of producing almost a gallon of milk each day for Baltimore area poor children & their families. When you ‘adopt’ a milk goat, you are taking a concrete, solid step to turn the tide away from human suffering from malnutrition and illnesses stemming from a lack of nutrition and instead provide the conditions for healthy, productive, fulfilling lives for those in need.”

annie_small.jpgNow that’s what I call Naturally Patriotic!  So, I get the goat without having to feed it, give it worm pills, extract stray roofing nails from its hoofs, or fence the roses with armor-grade sheet metal. People who need a boost get a supply of nutritious goat’s milk. And Liz gets peace of mind.  Everybody’s happy.

So meet my new friend Annie.  That’s her at left.  Here’s her official biography:

“Annie was born in the Spring of 2003, one of the first to be born at Garden Harvest! As is often the case, she was born late in the night, one cold, March night. But the birthing went well, and Annie has turned out to be one of the sweetest female goats!

Annie had a nice set of twin kids this past Spring, a boy and a girl, Dagger and Dart. Her husband is a lovely buck goat donated by Coach Farm, which is the largest goat dairy in the country. They also have on record the 10 top bucks in the country for producing top milk producing does. So, we are optimistic about how his contribution will improve our herd! The twin goats have developed well and are quite lovely little goats now. Annie was a great mother!

Annie is a very healthy and happy goat, one of the most gregarious! She is also sweet and gentle, which many goats are not. Most are sweet, but not always so gentle! Annie likes to climb up on her house, to be ‘on top of the world’ [note Liz’s concern aout the AC unit here]. We expect a long life with much milk production in the years to come! Some goats live well into their teens!”

Of course, hope spring eternal.  I still dream of one day having my own real live herd (maybe two or three for starters).  Maybe after the boy gets through college . . .


About Emmett Duffy

I am a Natural Patriot and an ecologist with expertise in biodiversity and its importance to human society. My day job is Professor of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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One Response to My bucolic birthday

  1. Linda Schaffner says:

    Well this is inspiring me to get my own goat!