A Socratic Rancher 9-21-09 | TheFencePost.com
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A Socratic Rancher 9-21-09

J.C. Mattingly Moffat, Colo.

Of course, one should expect personality differences (and peculiarities) to exist in other species as they do among humans. Among homo sapiens we have everything from Einstein to the winners of last years’ Darwin awards, Mozart to the band in the garage next door, and Evil Knievel to my grandmother. But in my early years as a goat keeper, I tended to think of goats as, well, more or less just goats. You know: herd animals, with a few distinguishing characteristics, but nothing as deep or wide as the diversity that occurs among humans.

Diva taught me different.

“I got Diva from this Iranian dude,” my neighbor (also a goatkeeper) told me. “She milks great, looks great, and they claim she was in some kind

of palace over there. I’ll take 10 bucks for her.”

At the end of the usual, lengthy, and very pleasant negotiation, I gave five, and didn’t realize how badly I’d been hosed.

Released to the corral, Diva did not mingle with the other goats. She ran from them when they approached in curiosity to sniff her tail and nose, the way goats like to get acquainted. In the coming days, she held down a corner of the corral looking at her companion creatures with a mixture of horror and disdain. Thus, she waited until all the others were clear of the water tank or feeder before approaching to take her sustenance, and stood to be milked

only when the barn was clear of all the other goats.

Whenever a gate opened, she made a mad dash to escape, and if successful, she went straight for the front door of our house and several times almost managed entry. Actually, she got into the house twice and wasted no time bedding down on the couch. It was clear Diva did not consider herself to be a goat. This, however, was not going to work with what we perceived to be a beneficial separation of species on

the place.

We eventually sleuthed down the Iranian dude and learned that, indeed, Diva had not spent much time with other goats. She’d grown up in a palace, exclusively among humans, except for necessary brief (and no doubt bewildering) encounters once a year with a billy. The reason for his unusual upbringing was that Diva had been a prized nurse nanny for a royal child under the Shah. “Yes,” the dude said, “the child nursed from the goat quite directly. You see, no trouble of

milking when the child can go directly to the teats.”

“Never thought of that approach.”

“Oh yes, it is common,” the dude continued. “Child and goat become good friends, as you say, and goat stays with the house.”

“Gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘nanny.'”

The dude looked at me, head tilted to one side, smiling, but not understanding.

Later, when I told my wife about the meeting, she said, “Gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘kid.’ “


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