On the last day I tried to surf several months ago, Mother Nature let it be known that I had no business in the ocean and tossed me about rather viciously. Since then I’ve had some pain in my lower back, not a huge deal but enough that I figured I should go see a physical therapist to sort out.
In one of our recent sessions, I was chatting with her about how, while I missed my husband and daughter, it did make packing up for home a lot easier in that I only had to do things one way, which was my way (the correct way, really.)
She replied, laughing “I know what you mean! My husband is gone to Australia for a week and in some ways it’s been easier. Except for having to move the goat shed over, which is usually his job. One of the baby goats we’d found had died and I guess it was too cold where it was. We had to hook up the shed to the truck….” She continued with the technical specifications of moving the goat shed, but I’d really stopped listening by then as all I could think of was the same repeating questions in my head which I then blurted out, “Wait, what do you mean ‘one of the baby goats we FOUND?’ Are there a lot of wild goats roaming around New Zealand?”
She paused for a moment and then said, “Well, yeah, I guess I can see how that could sound odd,” in a way that suggested that I was a complete moron for not understanding where one acquires baby goats in New Zealand as it’s common knowledge in these parts. As it turns out, she lives out in the countryside and her neighbor has a cattle farm. He also has goats which help to keep the weeds down, though these are largely feral at this point and he doesn’t bother with them much. Apparently, if a goatess has babies but the herd chooses to move along, she abandons the kids if they can’t keep up, sort of like what I do with my children on long hikes. It is these goats that Karen (for that is my PTs name) and her family find on neighboring property and take in. Last year, they started with three goats as well, and named them Katniss, Peeta and Gale. I would argue that these names did not bode well for the survival of the goats.
They weren’t really sure what to feed the goats at first, so started with diluted cow’s milk. This proved not to be the best food as Peeta began bleating in distress shortly thereafter. His cold body was found in the morning. Karen and her family dug a hole.
A visit to the goat shop led them to the correct formula to feed the goats, and Katniss and Gale thrived, delighting Karen’s kids. They were rather mischevious, however. The goats would often run into the street and cause cars to swerve out of the way. Given that this is a somewhat rural dirt road, this didn’t happen all that often but was a bit problematic.
Once, a goat, let’s say it was Gale, jumped in front of a car which skidded left and then stopped. The driver walked out to check on the goat. Gale appeared to be unharmed and then quickly skipped around the driver, went through his open car door, said hello to the wife and then leapt into the backseat of the car where he made himself at home. Karen had by this point come out of the house and began to apologize profusely to the driver who seemed rather amused by it all. “Rather a cute thing,” he said to Karen, looking back at the caprine intruder. “He seems to like us,” he continued, “do you mind if we keep him?” And thus did Gale find a new home, because only in New Zealand do you adopt a domesticated goat that nearly wrecked your car.
Katniss also got into trouble a few times for jumping into vehicles, namely the school bus. The goat clearly missed the memo that it was a lamb that was to follow its owner to school. The school bus driver, like most school bus drivers, was short of humor after years of driving screaming kids to and fro and was rather displeased by the sudden appearance of a goat in his ridership. It was time for Katniss to head on, so Karen did as one does and listed the goat on TradeMe for $30, which is the NZ equivalent of eBay. A call came soon after and a shabby man dressed in a priest’s frock trundled up the road in a puttering truck. He got out of the car and in now in plain sight, appeared clearly underfed. Karen recognized his poverty and couldn’t bring herself to charge the man for the goat, but her kids insisted on asking the man if the goat would be eaten. “Uh, no, I’m not going to eat it…she’ll just be my pet,” he said, while avoiding direct eye contact. Good enough, and off Katniss went with the impoverished priest, I’m sure to NOT be roasted over an open fire and eaten.
Onto this year, where once again, Karen and family found themselves in possession of three goats that were abandoned near their property line. These they took in and named Harry, Hermione and Finnick. Why not complete the trio, I wondered, but never asked. Harry and Hermione came to frozen ends, necessitating the moving of the shed which I mentioned earlier, and the purchasing of goat blankets which, yes, are a thing. Finnick is now doing quite well and rather cute, or so I’m led to believe. “What’s to become of Finnick?” I asked. “Will he also go to live unharmed with the priest from last year?”
“Nah, we’ve become rather attached to him. I think we’ll just keep him.”
Looks like the odds were in his favor after all.