A New Life For Old Goats

By Terry Golson


In April, the Goat Boys, Pip and Caper, will be ten years old. They’re twins. They arrived here when they were 10-weeks old.

They are delightful, charming, clever, and optimistic. I adore them.  Wethers (neutered male goats) can live to be twelve years old. Some live to be fourteen. So, the boys are heading into their senior years. They’ve slowed down. Head butts are no longer accompanied by rearing up. They like to stay close to the barn. Caper’s arthritic foreleg is stiffer to get going in the morning. But Caper still has the glint of a genius in his eyes,

 

and Pip lays on the sweet look to get scratches. 

I’ve been thinking ahead. They’ve only known each other. When one dies, the other will be bereft. Introducing an old goat, who’s never known a herd, to a new goat “friend” would not necessarily go well. Also, ever since my good farm dog Lily, passed away, I’ve been concerned that I can’t keep the boys safe from predators.

I’ve found what seems to be the perfect solution. A friend has recently bought a small farm. Kim brought her horse home, and got a mare to provide him with a friend. They’re quite happy. Perhaps too happy. It’s become difficult for her to ride one away from the other. Maybe goats would keep the horse-at-home company and settle him down. Kim also has ducks, guinea hens, chickens and three excellent dogs. She calls her place Noisy Farm for good reason. But I don’t think it’s noisy enough. She needs goats. My goats. And they need her.  In a year she could get youngsters, and the Goat Boys would be uncles. Sending Pip and Caper to a new home is not an option that is easy for me to contemplate,  but it’s the sort of thinking that we should do as custodians of our animals. We need to periodically review what’s best for the creatures under our care. Ask ourselves honestly if we can provide it. We can put off such decisions until the situation is dire, but then we’ll likely have fewer courses of action to choose from. This is the ideal time to introduce the Goat Boys to new surroundings and new friends. They’re still healthy. They’re still together. They can adjust and thrive before there are serious issues.  Down the road, I won’t have to worry about what’s best for a solo, lonely goat. Kim’s farm is only ten minutes from my home, so I’ll be able to visit. If they’re not happy, back to me they’ll come!

This is also a good idea because my backyard isn’t entertaining enough for them. I no longer spend long summer days in the garden (they like to watch and “help.”) The children are gone, as is their dog friend. They spend much of their days staring at the back door, willing me to come out. I think they’re going to like being at Noisy Farm. The move will happen after winter blows out of here, which probably won’t be until April.

Have you made this sort of judgement call for an animal? Tell me about it in the comments.


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21 thoughts on “A New Life For Old Goats

  • Kim

    We are so excited to have Pip and Caper join our farm family! They will be able to visit with the chickens and ducks, and enjoy the sunny Spring days in their barnyard. The horses will keep them company in the barn, and they might even catch a glimpse of the elusive barn cat!

  • Gin

    I did that with one of my old horses and a pony. They had been together for years, kids were too big for the pony, and we were working all week and had younger horses that needed riding and care so we couldn’t spend much time with the old ones. We had a friend, an older man that lived alone, less than 1/2 mile away with a big pasture and barn so he took them, fed them brushed them and they all got along quite well. We took care of any vet calls and any extra expense for them, so it worked out for everyone.
    Sounds like it might be a good plan for Pip and Caper.

    • Terry Golson Post author

      You’re fortunate to have had that option. It’s not easy finding a retirement home for our large animals. So rarely can you find a place near where you live. And it can be expensive! Horses end up in such awful situations at their end of their lives because of this. I’ve already done financial planning to ensure Tonka will be ok. I’ll be writing about that in another post.

  • Rebecca Ruggiero

    I have made similar decisions over the years: we once helped rescue a lovely English Mastiff and desperately wanted to keep her. However, after six months, it was clear that she would be better off in a different home. With help from a friend, we found the perfect home for her. These decisions are not easy, but usually wise (and brave, especially if you love your animals, as I know you do). I will miss seeing pictures of your sweet goats (but maybe there will be guest photos from their new home!).

    • Terry Golson Post author

      It’s so smart to re-home a dog that doesn’t fit your situation. I wish there wasn’t such guilt associated with it so that it would be an option that more people think of.

  • Karen Pryor

    Moving the goats to Noisy farm is an excellent solution, I think. They will have lots of company of different sorts, and they will have each other.
    At Noisy farm they would be nearby and you could still manage the veterinary care, which might increase a little now that they are elderly goats.

  • Daisy

    These decisions are always so hard to take ! but it is the human’s role to foresee and look for the best for the animals. Pip and Caper are so lovely and I love to see them through your cam but it seems you found the perfect home for them and so close from your home ! you’ll have the best part, visiting and knowing they are well cared for. It takes lots of courage and love but it’s for their own good for the time they still have left… from the previous comments it seems Kim could be the new caretaker and she seems excited at the perspective… the stars seem aligned… wish there were more people like you 🙂

    • Terry Golson Post author

      Yes, Kim is taking them. Years ago she took on a broody Orpington from my flock because she wanted a mamma hen for chicks. Worked out great, and she still has the chicken!

  • chickencarol

    Gosh it really doesn’t seem ten years since you bought the goat boys home. These sort of decisions are always heart breaking to make but we have to do what is right for our animals.

    I have re homed a few of my chickens in the past. I had a couple of girls that were plucking the rest of the flock so they went my friends farm to join her free ranging girls where they had more space. A couple of years later my pair of adorable leg horns were bullying the flock and it was near impossible adding new girls. They guarded the food and water. I ended up taking them to my friend too.

    The leghorns were happier with a much larger space and my flock became so much more settled and united. It was hard to give them up but without doubt the right thing for my flock. My flock is now a happy flock and that makes me happy. Like you I could go and visit them.

  • Jan

    Will really miss Pip and Caper on the cam, but agree with what you are hoping to do and hope they have a very happy final few years. I have rehomed the odd Hen to settle my flock better and when a hen passes away I wait till I have the room to add two or possible three new girls so that they can age together, as I get my girls from the same place the new ones already know each other which helps them settle in. About 25 years ago we took on a Labrador which a family had brought without thinking about how much exercise they need, they only had a small garden and went to work all day. He was going stir crazy and on top of that they were having a baby. We had him for 12 years I used to walk him 2 miles into walk every day and we were surrounded by fields so he was never shut in, he had a wonderful temperament and loved meeting all our customers that came in every day. 🙂

  • Leah

    Awwww… I know this is a difficult decision! We also have two wethers… our brothers were a year older than yours. Last winter, one became ill and we were unable to save him (a rumen blocked by a tumor). It was sudden and oh so sad! Our second goat was lost without his brother, and while the vet said he might get use to being part of a herd of geese (we have 2 Toulouse and they hang out together) we immediately began looking for another goat friend for him. We found a sweet one year old wether and he has become a very good brother. While he can be a bit pesky, he is a devoted friend who has kept the mischief alive. We know we are lucky it turned out so well, and also know we have a limited time to enjoy it. I couldn’t live without animals, but sometimes it is painful! I hope Pip and Caper love their new friends and I know you will still get plenty of goat nuzzles. They are the best!

  • Jacqueline Jones

    So sweet, so sad, so true. You are being a wonderful steward and that takes courage. You are truly an inspiration. On another subject, I have not been able to set up The Hen Cam as my Amazon charity. Have you taken The Hen Cam off of the charity choices list? Many thanks for the Hen Cam from a family who can’t raise chickens but love having the Hem Cam on our screens and as background “music” !

    • Terry Golson Post author

      The Goat Boys are going to a great home! I’m feeling fortunate to have this option for them.
      The HenCam isn’t a charity 🙂 But if you shop Amazon, and start on my page – click through to any page or click on the Amazon “lozenge” – I get a small bonus from Amazon and it doesn’t cost you anything. It helps to keep things running here!