By Adam & Kristin Kleinert
Yes, you read the title correctly, and no, we didn’t mean GOAT as in “Greatest Of All Time” (though these sweeties certainly are). We are now the proud owners of our very own bottle-fed Pygmy Fainter and Nigerian Dwarf goats.
If you’ve read our column before, you know we are always mentioning – not complaining, mind you – our busy family schedule. In fact, many times we’ve shared advice and anecdotes surrounding our efforts to streamline. So, why would we add farm animals to our already jam-packed lifestyle?
The simple answer is we are on a quest to provide one of our kiddos an endeavor in which she just may thrive. The complicated answer is, well, a bit more complicated. Let us explain…
Our oldest two children have never needed even the gentlest of pushes in order to stay busy and involved. They play a multitude of sports, sign up for clubs and student organizations constantly, and volunteer for opportunities whenever possible. Our third child, however, has never shared the same gusto for athletics and extracurricular activities like her older siblings. Molly has tried several outlets, but nothing has ever truly clicked for her, save a love of animals and a need to belong. She’s been curious about 4H for some time and, when she vocalized aspirations about joining our local club, we began to discuss the possibility of letting her raise and show an animal.
Admittedly, said “discussion” was rather one-sided at first. Adam (let’s call him “Good Cop”) grew up around farm animals and cherishes his own memories of 4H meetings and county fair projects. He was positively giddy at the prospect of signing Molly up to participate in the Clark County 4H Fair next July.
Kristin (we’ll call her “Bad Cop,” but “Voice of Reason” is much more appropriate) was concerned about the logistics of the whole operation. What type of shelter must be constructed? How much pasture would be needed? How much would it all cost and, most importantly, where were we going to find the time?
This Good Cop/Bad Cop exchange continued for some time. As is our practice, we isolated our conversations to times when the children were not present in an effort to present a united front after arriving at our decision. But let’s not kid ourselves; this brood knows what’s up around here. They knew we were entertaining the idea of new pets, and they made sure to prod us as best they could in their desired direction.
With all four kids and Good Cop clearly on board, the final two arguments were presented to Bad Cop:
- Molly needs something of her own; Something that appeals to her interests but also provides lessons in hard work and responsibility. Participating in 4H could be just that.
- Our 4H farm animals of choice would be small goats.
Jugular hit. If there are two things that appeal to Bad Cop’s weaknesses, they are children involved in enriching activities and a longtime dream of owning miniature goats. And so, we became goat farmers. Well, more like goat owners. We’re still learning the ropes, of course, but that’s where the more complicated explanation we mentioned above comes into reference.
You see, this new experience really was intended for Molly’s benefit. We planned to get her set up, teach her what to do and then step back a little as she figured some things out on her own. We accounted for the time it would take her to learn what was necessary. We did not account for how much the other five of us would be drawn in. And drawn in we are.
First of all, these goats are endearing. One of them is adorably tiny and the other, while not as small, is soft and sweet and has such kind eyes. Both are quite funny to watch play, and it’s remarkable how fast they learn. They are truly charming creatures.
Next, we have been rather surprised at what family pets they’ve become. We knew all four kids would be intrigued at the idea of new animals on the property, but we assumed the newness would wear off quickly for all except Molly (who would have to tend to them, like it or not). On the contrary, we are settling fights over who gets to feed and water, and who gets to let them out and pin them up.
In the mornings before school, when Molly has to get up earlier than others in order to feed, our youngest, Brahm, insists he needs to get up as well to accompany her. We’ve been pleased at how willing Molly is to get up and perform this duty. She has always been our hardest to drag out of bed. Now, she bounces out into the dark in her PJs, her little brother trailing along. Afterward, when the two are dressed and ready to leave, they beg to spend their extra few minutes visiting at the goat pen before we head out.
The interest taken by our older two has been yet another surprise. Eli wants to visit and play with the little goats every chance he gets. Recently, we found him in the pen next to one while holding the other, all three fast asleep. If you know anything about Eli, you’d know how rare is a moment of stillness for him, especially one where the creatures around him can relax enough to nap.
Sydney’s attachment to the goats may be the biggest shock of all. While she doesn’t dislike animals, she’s never taken much interest. In essence, she’s a pet-the-dog-quickly-on-the-way-
into-the-house kinda girl. We certainly did not expect our busy, self-involved 15-year-old to visit and hold our new farm animals daily. But she’s doing just that, in addition to worrying about their welfare and their happiness. She asks about their health daily and worries about their eating and digestive habits. She is fiercely protective if we have to separate the pair for brief periods, claiming it makes her sick to see them sad.
Overall, Molly’s 4H involvement has unexpectedly manifested as a family affair with very positive results. We are enjoying this new adventure together as a family. Many evenings we find ourselves assembled in the little pasture, sharing in the chores and giggling at the funny antics the goats produce. We’re constantly discussing goats around the dinner table, and we enjoy hosting friends who keep stopping by to check them out.
While our reasons for adding livestock to our busy lives began as a simple plan to give one of our crew more purpose, they’ve morphed a bit along the way. Those reasons now include connecting with one another – and with our pets – on a level we hadn’t anticipated. And so far, it’s the GOAT.