A slowly being added to compendium of all the ridiculous ways in which the horned minions differ in their line of reasoning from the rest of us.
Goats and Joggers
Your average goat is a prey animal, (not counting the rare ones that turn on the dog chasing them and beat nine kinds of hell out of the dog). It’s also important to remember that your average goat doesn’t like to run much more than a few yards if at all. So when a group of humans comes running at a fast clip past a goat down the trail the goat goes “What in the hell is chasing these guys so hard they gotta run like that? It must be horrible! We should run too or it will catch up and eat us!”. Which ends up with you being dragged by a worried goat who wants to catch up with the mob of college girls in short shorts that just went by you at a speed you cannot possibly hope to attain yourself. Welcome to skiing via goat.
Goats Force You to Be Friends with Others…
Sometimes when you are out on a trail with just you and a single goat a person will walk by you on the trail that the goat will unaccountably take a liking to. Bakri seems to like middle aged women, and his brother was fond of following random guys over 35. No, it doesn’t make any sense, but when they see someone they want to collect into their metaphorical herd they will try and match paces with a complete stranger who probably doesn’t want goat love all over them. Which leads to that awkward trail turn off where their crush-of-the-moment goes the opposite way you want to and they get grumpy with you about it. Its not my fault this random person doesn’t want to be your friend!
Mooching Goat Style
The other horrible tendency of goats is bothering complete strangers is food. I have had a goat pat down a park ranger who was trying to pet it, firm in the belief that someone possessing so many pockets on their clothes surely had one pocket containing food. Fortunately, the park ranger seemed to find it funny. I have had a goat who associated crinkly snack bar paper with getting a treat leave me to chase a group of completely random hikers down and beg them for the cliff bars they were eating. Beware what you teach a goat! Finally, it is not just human food that a goat may mooch. Beware the enterprising goat who likes horse feed, cardboard boxes, paper cups, and toothbrushes. No garbage can, burn barrel, or fire ring can be passed without goat inspection lest some tangerine peel or burnt paper product was left inside.
Goats and Tents
If a goat were to be suddenly transformed into a human it would be so completely decadent, devoted to extravagance, and indulgent in almost every luxury imaginable that it would soon either be the dictator of a small tropical island or work in the entertainment industry. So when a goat gets wind of the idea you expect it to sleep on the cold wet ground under a bush while you enjoy a cushy warm sleeping bag in a bug proof tent, let me tell you the battle is on. It doesn’t matter how small that backpacking tent might be – your goat is going to be in it if that tent flap isn’t secured. Also beware of the goat, who, realizing that it can’t get in the tent, settles for the second best solution, which is to sit on the tent.
Goats and Pickup Trucks
The pickup belongs to you, and like a cat, the goat is very clear on the fact that you and your possessions belong to it. It indulges your weird desire to walk for miles through the woods just to go right back to the truck on the assumption that you must have lost track of the truck and it took you 10 miles to find it again. It sees that you sit in the cab with the nice bucket seats, so it will occupy the bucket seats when you are not occupying them and the door is open, (and lay all over your long suffering stick shift). Of course, the best place to watch for approaching coyotes, small children, and the hay truck is from the top of said pickup, so don’t be surprised to find some hoof dents in the roof of your cab the next time you wash the truck.
The goat may tolerate being asked to ride in the truck bed, but as a herd animal, expect it to want to hang out with any humans that are occupying the cab. What this means is if you leave that little back window open in the very egalitarian theory that it is only fair to share your heat or air conditioning with the beasts of burden, yes, it is very very likely the goat will stick its head through the back window to see what you lazy humans are doing up front or to nyaah at you when your driving is making it car sick. Make sure said goat can easily get its head back out of the window or you will be having a very interesting car trip.
Baby Goats in the Car
Okay, you know you’ve done it. You know you’ve let that adorable fuzzy ball of mayhem ride in the cab at least once on the way to somewhere. It’s cute. It bounces around in excitement. It is usually secured in the none to happy hands of whomever occupies your passenger seats until it wiggles free and starts bouncing again.
There is something about riding down the road and oggling at other people in cars at stoplights that delights the most timid of bucklings and doelings. It must be a great surprise to believe with all your tiny little heart that you are the number one most special horned fluff ball in creation and then actually have humans prove this to be the case by chauffeuring you around while other humans in fancy cars wreck into power poles while trying to take pictures of you.
Of course this brings up an interesting comparison between humans and goats. When a goat sees something unusual that it does not understand it freezes and assesses. Humans do the exact same thing. Which is great for basic survival when you are walking, or even when riding another thinking organism that can, if necessary, override your likely to be lethal paralyzed fascination with that brown bear that just came out of the brush by galloping away. However, it does not perform well when said human is on a non-sentient item that is moving solely thanks to the laws of physics, such as driving a vehicle, riding a bike, or on a skateboard. I have been a first hand witness to numerous mountain bike wrecks, a couple of skateboard involuntary dismounts, and some very annoying traffic congestion from people who just couldn’t tear their eyes away from the ridiculousness of a goat on a rope. I cringed particularly bad for the mountain biker who turned to look at the goats while passing at great speed. He hit a long and very slick wooden bridge, where he predictably wrecked, slid the whole length of the bridge, and to add insult to injury, nailed the railing really hard.
The Freudian Psychology of the Buck
Bucks are a grab bag of personalities. Some are laid back, some are protective, and some are probably a few microliters short of dying from testosterone poisoning (or more likely from you deciding its less trouble to eat them). They may sometimes seem quite easy going even during breeding season, until the inevitable Freudian slip occurs where that seemingly calm and serene buck suddenly tries to bash your head in while you are cleaning the paddock.
If you feel like Freud was a little too obsessed with libido, then you’ll start to wonder if his study didn’t have a view of the neighbor’s goat farm. While outside of breeding season a buck can be tolerant so long as the humans respect his personal perceived dominance in the goat herd, (except of course where his mother is concerned), breeding season introduces the sort of evolutionary perfected drive that causes him to feel that he needs to beat nine kinds of hell out of everything, including other goats, fence posts, and the barn cats. Young bucks even seem to derive great pleasure from head butting those jolly balls made for horses if they are hung at an appropriate height.
Another very Freud issue also arises if you have a buck who is very bonded to humans and very excited in his first breeding season. While he’ll be all excited to make the standard buck version of whispering sweet nothings at the does he’s put in with, (which includes a lot of gibbering and pawing), I had a young buckling in his first breeding season who was so high on hormones he decided to make a pass at me. To which he got what human males recognize as the ultimate I’m-not-interested right in stomach, followed by a dip in the water trough to cool his head.
Why Goats Can’t Be Dogs
To those familiar with keeping dogs, (which I have come to realize to my eternal frustration goats at least physically resemble to most people), the goat is a shock that leads almost instantly to denial. It is not possible for something that however superficially, strongly resembles a dog to not in anyway think or act like one.
To begin with goats are HERD animals. Dogs are PACK animals. This is a surprisingly important distinction. A herd is a group of individuals who hang together because doing so decreases the statistical likelihood that they themselves will be personally eaten when the local carnivores want breakfast. This means its a confederation of loosely allied states that only lasts so long as there is benefit in being in a group. If tomorrow all goats moved to a world without predators they’d probably become solitary beasts.
Dogs, on the other hand, (with a few exceptions), are card carrying members of the type of loyal band of plucky adventurers that makes the Three Musketeers seem faithless in comparison. They care about each other, possibly even love one another. If the owner dies the dog cries at their grave. If the dog dies the owner puts black ribbons on all the animal’s photos, (or possibly freeze dries the corpse for posterity). There’s an emotional connection beyond the practicality of mutual beneficial exchange.
This is not to say that goats cannot be fond of humans, but it seems more like its a deal than an instinctual drive. Treat a goat well, defend it from dogs, feed it, and above all, show it consideration, (that means doing things like budging up so the goat gets in the shelter and out of the rain and sharing your lunch), and it will in return show you consideration. If it’s a bottle baby it might even be attached enough to love you a little, depending on the individual.
However, while a dog may forgive you for a newspaper to the nose, don’t even think about whacking a goat without being prepared to suffer some form of personal repercussion. Sometimes it is necessary to whack a goat, lest it eat your baseball cap the rest of the way or try headbutting you again, but don’t expect that goat to come bouncing back up like a puppy dog later.
Goats Speak Goat Like Americans Only Speak English
Have you ever had a goat around a horse, dog, cow, llama, or any other species that isn’t a goat? If you do,it will remind you forcibly of going on a trip to whatever your local ethnic grocery store is with your most American family and friends. The ego of a goat says that it doesn’t need to learn to speak horse or dog or llama or even human. Everyone else should just learn to speak goat, (compare this to the notion that everyone ought to speak English). I once had a goat ram its horns up a horse’s nostril upon meeting it the first time. Horses sniff each other’s noses and goats butt heads when they first meet a new member of their species – they had a serious cross communication, (and the horse now hates goats).
Sometimes you will get a goat that is more into crossing the species barrier than others, but usually the best they can manage is to understand a horse or a couple of terrified sheep. One goat I know has interpreted that to fit into the horse herd where she’s the only goat, she should nyaah whenever the horses neigh at approaching humans and paw the ground. She’s got the idea, but I think she’d blend in better if she wasn’t about 10 hands shorter than everyone else.
The Goats Who Stare at Men
While there’s nothing metaphysical about this phenomenon, one of the greater oddities of hiking a goat on leash is the tendency of goats to freeze and stare at various oncoming disasters, (screaming kids, fast cars, and avalanches), that they should really be running from. This would potentially be advantageous, if, for instance, said goat was already safely up a cliff side, or even remotely near such a convenient place of refuge. Usually, though, this instinct kicks in halfway across a four lane highway, in the middle of a campground, or worst of all, right in front of a huge group of camera toting Chinese tourists.
Which leaves you, the human, to drag the endangered catatonic pack animal, (however you can without looking too much to ignorant bystanders like an animal abuser), out of harms way.
What does Nayyah Mean Anyway?
Nayyah, or more commonly, that noise goats make when you walk by with the feed bucket, has long been a source of translational difficulty for aspiring animal linguists. There are those who believe the nayyah, based on tone, length of sound, and situation, can mean any number of complex things including:
- “You there, give me that grain bucket”
- “You have given me a bath and thus I hate you and your kids and your species and this world and that cute smurf on your car’s dashboard that keeps smiling at me to spite me”
- “I AM ALONE. DAMMIT I AM ALONE. SOMEBODY COME BECAUSE ITS AN EMERGENCY BECAUSE I AM ALONE! HELLLLLLOOOOOO! I KNOW YOU HEAR ME!”
- “Dude. You look stupid doing that.”
- “You took my babies. I expect you probably lost them because you aren’t holding them anymore. So it’s up to me to fix your blunder by screaming my head off until they magically reappear”
- “I am king of the world! Or at least of the top of this barrel”
- “You. I HATE YOU. DIE!!!!”
However, my husband’s theory is that goats are not so complex. After all, goats are not very good at thinking more than 15 seconds ahead, so why should they bother with complex reasoning when the direct approach works just as well? Any nayyah can therefore be much more simply and primitively translated as:
- “WANT! WANT STUFF!”
Which is not nearly as much fun as the complex sentences, but probably more accurate.
Why Is the Goat So Mad When I Grab Its Horns Mommy?
What is the number one thing a fragile toddler or easily broken preschool kid going to grab when it sees a goat on the trail for the first time? The cantankerous critter’s horns. In fairness, even my own husband refers to the horns as “handles” and uses them as such on any available occasion. Of course, he weighs 135 pounds, not 35 pounds, so he can handle the oncoming tussle for supremacy.
Now, the “mommy” of said small child will get unbearably upset when the goat headbutts her child or similar. However, what “mommy” doesn’t realize is that she is seeing the scene from her perspective, not the goats!
What your small child has just done to this goat, mam, is akin to walking up onto the porch of your most redneck and NRA supporting neighbor, ripping the rifle out of their hands on their own front porch, and then stuck their tongue out at the redneck while going naner-naner. From the goat’s perspective a human which is at least tall enough to look it in the eye has come up and grabbed, forcibly, it’s only weapon of defense in a world full of goat eating monsters. It is therefore justifiably upset and does not understand that your small, breakable contribution to the gene pool is too stupid to realize the blunder it has just made.
Luckily, kids at that age are mostly cartilage, and since most kids release the goat’s horns after being headbutted in the chest, the worst that generally happens is having to deal with a parent who is upset their child just got headbutted. After all, the goat got it’s metaphorical “guns” back so it feel perfectly safe and won’t press suit against a rather nasty smelling little human…unless the human tries again! In this way goats are superior to humans, as you would probably get shot after handing the gun back to the redneck!
(Over the years, after many run ins with kids/offspring/naive parents, some of whom actually encouraged their offspring to grab my goat’s horns, I have spent a lot of time teaching goats to tolerate having their horns handled. I cannot fix the stupidity of the general public when it comes to goats, I can only teach the goats to handle their adoring public with grace and composure.)
The Goat World View (and where you fit in it)
To the average goat the ideal world is one in which they are the undisputed King/Queen/Eunuch of all they survey. The unfortunate reality that they must overcome is that there is a bunch of annoying people, goats, dogs, horses, small children, fences, and sometimes automobiles, standing in their way. Luckily, God has generously supplied them with weapons attached to their head, a stubborn personality, and almost suicidal arrogance by which they can subdue all comers in the great big battle to the top that is life in a goat herd.
The human is a source of food, thus is generally respected as a honorary “Herd Queen/King”, meaning that it is not okay to headbutt the hand that feeds you, but it is perfectly acceptable, nay required, to outwit the slow moving primate in order to gain unfettered access to the grain bucket. Should the human decide to give grain to a lower ranking goat to the exclusion of those higher up, the human must be forgiven for not understanding the social protocol, (being somewhat less intelligent than a goat), and politely corrected by either insistent nyaahing, beating the lower ranking goat up, or in desperate circumstances by sneaking up, and climbing on the human to get at the grain.
Should the human, erroneously, believe that headbutting an old goat, a baby goat, or a sickly goat repeatedly is not an appropriate way to indicate the offending goat’s debased spot in the hierarchy, the human must be forgiven.
Goats Judge By Size
Goats judge eachother by horn size, talk with horns
The Tunnel is Not a Cave
Goats don’t like roadway tunnels
Goats on Heights