Goat TV

The goats are laying on the steps outside our door this morning, chewing their cud and waiting for the rain to stop. I recognized young Go-At’s male aroma as I walked into the octaganal sun room which doubles as our office and rainy day laundry drying room. Jeremy’s little buckskin buck is frustrated and confused since the addition of a second young doe, the deerskin colored Nwansane. We pronounce her name “N’Juan san EE” which is Twi for deer.

Go-At is a sweet, affable little guy. He comes to us so we can scratch his head and allows us to pick him up and carry him around. Lately, however he not a happy camper. Go-At is awash in Nwansane’s pheromones. He follows her around and sniffs, rolling his lip in the air. “He doesn’t know what he wants,” I suggest. Jeremy shakes his head, “He knows. He just needs to take it.” The best we can figure is that he wants her to come into heat and from the looks of their dance, this hasn’t happened yet. Or it has and he isn’t sure how to follow through. Bob says he just needs to take a go at it.

Aponche, the younger doe, is ambivalent. She has a white heart on her black head and her coat is piebald, patches of light and dark hair. Aponche, pronounced “Ah PON chee” is Twi for goat. She has yet to come into heat and so is too young to breed. At first she chased Nwansane mercilessly, determined to establish the pecking order in no uncertain terms. Weeks later they have settled in and only ceremonial head buts and caprioles are necessary for Aponche to maintain the status quo.

It used to be Aponche who bleated all day with her insistent “Blaaaahhhh, Blaaaaah” which Bob said reminded him of Crusty the Clown. Before Jeremy added the second doe to his little goat herd, Aponche called for Go-at most of the day. Somehow she had lost him in the yard or had found a particularly tasty weed and wanted him to come join her. He seldom spoke. When he did, his sound was decidedly non-goatlike. We’d hear it some mornings, a mournful “Boo awww” a pitiful heart-wrenching call for assistance.

But now it’s Go-at and Nwansane we hear. For the first three days, Nwansane’s insistent bleat crescendoed into an unnerving scream like a mortally wounded woman. She kept her eye on the gate. One afternoon she streaked past me onto the street twice, setting off a neighborhood game of interception. Bob ran down the street in the direction of her previous home to play back stop. Everyone seemed to enjoy the exercise and diversion. A little bit of neighborly team building. A moment later, we all got to do it again. Weeks later, Nwansane’s bleat is more normal, lacking the unsettling pitch of her earlier cries.

And now Go-at is becoming increasingly more vocal. He stands over Nwansane as she lies asleep on the steps and makes a throaty, gargling sound, stamping his feet in impatience, lipping her wattles and pawing her ear with with his little hoof. He cannot rest, he can only continue trying to coax her into heat. Her eyelid opens a fraction and closes down again. He follows her around, she squats and pees. He sniffs the puddle and rolls his lip in the air, testing for pheromones. He pees on himself and chases her. She whirls and butts him in his flanks again and again. We watch throughout the day, lost in the dance. Goat TV.

Go-At used to start crying just before dawn, but now he bleats his sorrowful cry at 4am, after the Muslims have woken the roosters and he doesn’t stop until Jeremy opens up the goat pen and lets him out. So Jeremy has begun getting up two hours early to open the pen and then we all go back to sleep. This morning I heard Go-At’s blathering at 2am and then I heard Jeremy leave the house and walk around the back to the pen.

We don’t know where all of this will lead. We just keep watching and listening. Perhaps today will be the day he finds satisfaction and returns to his formerly quiet ways.


By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.