Im not kidding

“Mares eat oats

And does eat oats

And little lambs eat ivy,

A kid will eat ivy, too,

Wouldn’t you?”

That song became quite popular in the early 1940s, along about the time two of my older brothers volunteered for the infantry and were marched off to do their patriotic duty in World War II.

I was only 10 when the tears were shed and the oldest hitched his kit bag up over his shoulder and turned, without looking back, to go catch the scheduled humongous, smoke-belching, steam-puffing train at the station in Rockwood.

I still recall the only address needed to reach him.  N .C. Trooper Hopkins had inked A105404 on the back of my freckled hand.

The soldiers in training used to sing that ditty when their convoy of khaki camouflaged army trucks passed our S.S. #10 School in Eramosa Township. The off white balloons that bobbed up and down in great profusion behind each truck were given to the soldiers, my blushing teacher informed us, to bring each of them good luck. She must have been right – they must have worked – both of my brothers came home unscathed and, might I add, both lacking a shotgun wedding.

The tune entered my head the other morning as I walked into our barn to check, as I usually do, all of the livestock. The moment the door opened, I knew I was in for a little surprise. Believe me, I’m not kidding, but the goats were. The bleat of the first tiny newborn caught my ear; two more followed at intervals in short order. All three were strong and healthy, and their docile, attentive mom was doing just fine.

Our small flock of Boer goats, which are meat goats by genetic fate, selective breeding and recent popular demand, originating in Africa, arrived at our West Wind farm last September. There were five does and some of their young, a total of 12 altogether, including Curly, a handsome, curved horned-goateed buck, who, having done his job, moved on because he was now too closely related to the coming flock of young.

These goats are capable of having three lactations with multiple births in two years, which has a tendency to put them on the profitable side of the ledger. I can foresee, when doe numbers top over two hundred, jockeying a once hurricane-ravaged, derelict, small, hilly farm back into a self-sustaining, profitable position.

Goats are not new to me; I had a pet black and white Alpine nanny goat for two years when I was still in single-digit age. That gives me about the same goat proficiency as would driving past a hospital qualify me as a brain surgeon.

But I do like this breed of goats. They are large and quite gentle, are easy to feed and care for, and have an attractive uniform colour. They are also inquisitive, show affection, and are extremely fun to watch as they stiff-leggedly gambol, jump, and play with each other. It is greatly hoped that my ability to learn has decreased little with age. Perhaps some of their intelligence will rub off on me.

I’m not kidding – I mean that.

Take care, ’cause we care.




Barrie Hopkins