King Ben’s Grandma wants to know about Goats, and yes l do indeed have a tale about them!.
We all know about Bad Karma, right? Well how about …
That’s Just Baaaad Pygmy!
In 2003, my business was based in an old French styled chateau in Spalding, Lincolnshire – l looked at Google Maps just before starting this post, and came to see that it is still there, just empty. The farmer who owned it is/was a multimillionaire and kept the building purely for the use of Barn Owls [There was a breeding pair inside the loft] which he was a fond follower of. In fact the only reason he allowed my business to rent from him, was on the premise that any dead rodents l had [another story, another day], l was to cast into their window at the top of the building, so as to feed them, and in so doing l secured a somewhat large building for a business and a remarkably cheap rent.
You can see by the photo, what l mean by walled in – it was isolated, and secluded, which was ideal. Okay, maybe a little too isolated when one thinks back to the Raccoon attack lol! But for the sake of keeping a somewhat quirky and eccentric business active and out of prying eyes, it was ideal
I used to bring my dogs down and they could have walks everywhere and not be hindered by anything or anyone.. Anyway, moving along …
Our story actually takes place in 2005, when l was asked by a client to buy four pygmy goats for their open to the public game park in Norfolk. I said no problem; l will outsource them for you and give you a call when ready. I had seen some advertised, and so called to enquire and yes they were available for purchase, they were each about a year old, a right little rambunctious lot, and all unrelated, so it would serve well for the park to have a nice clean unrelated blood line, so they could establish a breeding unit.
Now for those not in the know, the African Pygmy Goat is a miniature domestic goat breed, they are remarkably hardy and suited for adaptability in many climates, and they usually have a great temperament.
I asked a colleague of mine to travel to the seller’s location, and collect them, pay the seller and transport them back to me, so l could arrange collection later that week. No problem said my chap and off he went with the horse trailer in the morning, and came back later that afternoon.
“Little Goat = Pygmy Goat!”
“Big Goat = Goat!”
Now for the record let me show you a couple of pictures … Little goat = pygmy goat, big goat = goat! It can’t get much simpler than that, so you can imagine my surprise when my chap arrives back later that day with four huge goats!! One male and three nannies? Or for more detail, one ‘wether’ and three nannies! A wether is actually a castrated Billy!
My chap was full of smiles and was beaming when he came to me and said “Rory, these are great animals, all the way back they were talking to me!”
“Yeah, that’s terrific Ted, but a little question first if l may? But what the fuck are these doing here!”
Ted looked mortified, “These are the pygmy goats you wanted, l was given a choice of colour and guessed you might like the whites?”
“Ted, these aren’t pygmy goats, these are normal sized domestic goats, there is a huge difference, apart from the blatantly obvious and clear sign!”
“Tell me you are not serious? Their size you plonker! Pygmy goats are genetically bred for dwarfism, these are not genetically bred dwarves, and these are goats!”
“Sorry Rory, l am not with you, are you saying you don’t like them because they are white?”
“NO, l am saying that these are normal goats, as in ‘big goats’ not ‘small pygmy goats!”
“So, these are the wrong ones?”
“Well yeeeah! Have you never seen a pygmy goat?”
“You mean like a baby goat?”
“No, like a pygmy as in dwarf goat!”
“What like a really small goat that’s not a baby goat?”
“No, but these goats are small for their size you know, will they not pass as these baby goats you wanted?”
“Ted, are you having some kind of fun and games with me? These are normal domestic goats that you see in farms, l am after a very specific breed of goat that you see in game parks!”
“So, you are NOT happy with these then?” Ted asked, crestfallen.
“No, l am not happy with these goats, as lovely or as unlovely as they may be. In truth, from my limited experience of goats, they look older than even juvenile goats?”
“Oh yes the chap said they were and had been great breeders!”
“So, they are really old goats!!”
“Ah but Rory, they were cheaper than all the other goats, they only cost you £10 each, bargain £40 for 4 goats! I have saved you well over £500!!”
“Wait a minute, so there WERE other goats there then?”
“Oh yes, they had these kids there, you know the baby goats and they were all sorts of colours, but l figured you would want these?”
I think it’s relatively safe to say at this time, that l was best not impressed, and wanted to seriously strangle Ted.
“So, what you are saying Ted is that for some totally bizarre reason that only you know about, is that you bought four ‘goats’ because they were a tenner each in comparison to buying four pygmy goats that would have cost me £600 to save me the money?”
“I can’t actually speak to you at this present time Ted, l am having trouble controlling my calmness!!”
I rang the seller, who l knew and demanded to know what the bloody hell was going on? He answered the phone laughing and asked what l thought of the ‘big boned pygmy goats?’ Continued to say that he didn’t want them and thought l should have them, and that my driver was incredibly clueless and that l should get someone with a bit more savvy, which was already crossing my mind. However, l now knew that the seller had hoodwinked me.
“Are the pygmies still available??”
“Sure, you can come down and fetch them any time, but if we see you pull up and you have the other goats, we will not be in!”
I was furious, l cannot even describe with mere words how l was feeling. I rang around and found a seller with pygmy’s who would deliver them the next day, however that didn’t help me at all, l had four retiree goats that l didn’t want. I told Ted to bugger off and not come back for a good month, and loaded the four big boned goats into my first forecourt, and then frantically called around to try and find someone who would take my goats off me for maybe a private kid’s fun park.
My adventures were only just starting.
You may see from the photograph of the building that each courtyard had a cattle block meaning that the goats wouldn’t be out in the rain. So l quickly rolled some hay and straw into their courtyard so that they could eat, feed and bed down for the night and resumed my calling around of my client base.
Those goats, l have to concede were incredibly friendly and beautifully affectionate, so l knew that they had in fact been loved somewhere in their lives, which saddened me, as l thought that some owner had simply tired of them and moved them on to an agricultural broker because they were too old! You see that all the time in the horse market, it can just wear you down, especially if like me you loved all animals whatever their age.
After the second day, and to no avail of trying to secure a friendly loving home for these four and NOT some knackers’ yard looking for glue, l decided to keep them until someone came along with a genuine interest. I mean l thought how hard can they be?
The seller of the new pygmy goats arrived the next day and was really quite taken with them, and asked where l got them from? I explained and he was suddenly laughing! “I know these goats; they have been on the circuit for about six months!!”
“Why, what’s wrong with them, are they terminally ill??”
“No, nothing like that, they are the Houdini’s, they are seriously bad karma!”
“Houdini’s – they are escape artists??” I stammered.
“Well no, but sort of like yes …”
“Do you care to elaborate Mike?”
“They’ll be fine, probably just a rumour, you know what the industry can be like, anything for a laugh!” With that Mike got into his van and off he went.
Finally l had my four pygmy goats, which l put in with the ‘big boned pygmy goats’ and everyone got on swimmingly. Once they were settled, l went and rang Norfolk who said they couldn’t get to me till the weekend which was three days away.
I couldn’t shift from my head the thing that Mike had said that these were known as Houdini’s, and that worried me immensely seeing as l didn’t live on site! So l made sure everything was secure, doubled up their feed, made nice lush straw beds and went home for the night. Admittedly l did not sleep well and on returning the next morning the first thing l did was go into the courtyard and started counting my goats, okay that’s fine, all 7 are present. No, wait a minute l had 8??
Well looked everywhere, l could not find the wether. He was nowhere to be seen. I went out and checked the entire area and still no wether!? I went into the second courtyard where the office in the building was and low and behold he was there, standing by the front door bleating at me!
“How the hell did you get there?” I asked him like he could answer. He meekly looked at me and bleated and l led him back to the all the others. All day l must have checked on them twice an hour for the full day l was getting on with things, and not once were they anywhere but where they should be.
That night, once again l double checked everything, secured the gate and left them as eight goats in the courtyard. Once more l did not sleep that well at all. The next morning, the four pygmies were there but only two goats!!
“Now where are they?” This time it was two of the nannies! l found them in two separate locations. Both in the next courtyard one at each end! So l led them back, and now was checking the buggers almost three times an hour for ten hours for the day, not once did they escape!
No problem l thought, maybe it’s the pygmies that they have a grievance with and maybe when they go the next day, things will calm down. I was fast becoming a nervous wreck, was not sleeping, and was dreading going in the next day. However at 5.30am Saturday morning, l received a phone call from Spalding police to say l had to get to my premises as quickly as possible, as there was a serious problem.
I arrived there at six am, to be met by one of the most astounding sights l have EVER seen in my entire life! On the rooftops of all the courtyards sat and stood eight fucking goats!!! All bleating!!
The police just looked at me in astonishment “Did you leave them like this sir, on the roof before you left the premises last night?”
I remember clearly the thoughts that went through my head, but reminded myself to be polite. “Are you insane constable? Why, why, why would l leave eight goats on my rooftops?”
“Well l don’t know sir, that is why l am asking you? You need a license to move goats you know? So?
“No, of course l didn’t, they somehow have managed to get up there by themselves!!”
“Well you will have to get them down sir, l am sure it is illegal to have goats on top of a building.”
“Well how do you suppose l do that then?”
“Not my problem sir, but if you cannot shift them, then we will have to call the RSPCA.”
“No way is that happening, they got up, they will get down again . somehow. Leave it with me, l’ll sort it!”
“Right you are sir, we will be back in a few hours to ensure you have done this.”
So, l was left with eight goats on my roof tops. Desperately trying to figure out how to get them down. I tried coaxing them, cooing to them, offering them food, ignoring them, nothing worked. I gave up, l thought how do l get these beasts down? After about an hour, the pygmies were the first to come down, l am guessing by the same way they got up, that hadn’t dawned on me.
You see goats, are remarkably agile creatures, they can manoeuvre around all sorts of terrain and they jump quite high, whatever their size! Something l hadn’t countered on. My courtyards were secure, but what l had in there that l hadn’t been taking into consideration, was a roll of straw – a straw bale. I had been using the straw from the bale to make the bed. I used to get delivered to me the big round bales.
My goats had been jumping up on to the bale, and then jumping again to the wall and instead of jumping over it, they walked along it and got on the roof! Mystery solved, l had been a muppet to have missed the most obvious thing going. What had transpired l guess is that the wether was the first one to try it the first night, he then encouraged the nannie the second night and they then encouraged all the others on the final night.
This would not do l thought. Now as luck would have it, the Norfolk buyers turned up as the first of the pygmies was coming down, and the buyers thought it was most hilarious thing going and filmed it all! But, they were so impressed with the four ‘big boned pygmy goats’, that they took those as well as the pygmies, and paid me £200 for those big bones.
I found out about six months later, that the Houdini’s were a very much loved attraction for Norfolk, that the nannies were loved not just by the public and the keepers but also all the pygmies and the other goats. The wether, well he was also much loved and he had a big play park awarded to him and became quite a watched feature!
That’s my only experience of goats. After that, l always ensured that the sellers came to me, and l didn’t send Ted out to anyone else, in case he brought an elephant back with him one day just in case he thought it was a big donkey!!
Anyway, thanks for reading! Next time we are going to talk about Tortoises and Platypus!
Images courtesy of Pixabay,