Written by Lindsay Henry
I wasn't raised on a farm. I lived in a zoo and sometimes I felt like my life was a circus. But I didn't grow up on a farm. I think my mother, the single mom of 6, dirt poor, and driven as all get out, had a dream of raising us up just like The Waltons! It's quite hard to do, however, in the middle of Scottsdale, Arizona, on the side of Camelback Mountain, in the very midst of some of the most famous and richest people in the world.
Our house didn't look like theirs. The roof was questionable, our family room had pink walls, and on a really good day you might find us "kids" folding laundry in that room with a baby goat on the coach or in the laundry basket itself.
As we came and went in our yellow square FIAT Granny the goat would call goodbye and hello as those little black tires crackled over the gravel. She lived right next to our swimming pool. Soon it was too much for her to bear that we were separated from her so of course she rode with us. She rode In the front seat. She sat straight up surveying the road as if she was the copilot of our lives. Off she would go to the high school, to swimming practice, soccer practice and football practice. In order to make ends meet my mom had a paper route - Granny rode along. When we had the station wagon we would hold our goats in the very back, ducking when we saw officers of the law as there was no such thing as strapping in. We just had to make it to the fairgrounds.
We smelled like a goat. We had goat hair on the clothes we had saved our money for to try to fit in. And people gathered at the high school drop off just to catch a glimpse, not of us in our clothes but of the goat in the car.
We hated goat milk. We wanted sparkling white milk from the store. We didn't want milk in a big plastic jug, but in a fancy carton. Well we got it.....once. The rest of the time we were tricked into taking large swigs that regularly contained hair, dirt, and a little dust even though the warm elixir had just been strained through a fresh knee high and disguised as carton milk. We picked all of that gingerly from our teeth.
The goats came inside. They played with our dogs and or cats. They strutted around our Scottsdale home like they owned the place.
There were chickens, too. They all had names and personalities. Frequently we were called the the neighbor's house to fish the chickens out of their crystal clear swimming pool. Humiliated and hoping they would not report us to the ASPCA or recognize us at school, we coaxed our treasures out and carried them home.
We eventually had other guests. Spotty, the Schlitz Malt Liquor pig as it charged us and ran down the door every time we fed him. But Amber, the Golden Retriever thoroughly enjoyed taking Spotty round the neighborhood via leash and collar.
There was the turkey that sat uneaten at Thanksgiving and the geese that attacked anyone or anything unfamiliar.
It was wild. It was weird. It was what it was. I complained. I feigned humiliation. I pretended to be
the victim of parental abuse. But what people don't know is that I woke up everyday with a view of our goats and chickens and dogs and cats and rabbits and whatever else wandered into the yard after being rescued. I would lay there in my bed looking out my turn of the century window with peeling paint. I knew that this day wouldn't bring me sudden popularity or a date to anywhere. I wasn't going to gain a passel of friends or find that one of my teachers had nominated me for an award...in anything. I knew that these moments and those too few moments I spent with my little brothers and sister and my mom were the best moments. No one knew that I couldn't wait to see that square little roller skate on wheels turn the corner to the high school to pick me up. I rode in the back seat amongst the unfolded newspapers feeling safe and needed.
So of course there are good things about goats and kids. There are traditional things like empathy for another being. There is responsibility, consistency and teaching little ones about the circle of life when you have goats or any other animal. However, these things are all things that show the reverse, that kids are good for goats.
Goats are good for kids. They can love them, depend on them and can make them feel like they belong to something and belong somewhere. Goats can bring a family together and set kids apart - making them resilient and giving them purpose to get up another day.
I wasn't raised on a farm. But we were famous in our own way and as it turns out we were the richest family on the block. Granny the Goat helped make that happen.
Other shorts you may enjoy:
Making Your Own Goat Treats
Does You Goat Have Bad Breath?