• Jeni Kelsch

Goats, and other foolish things.

Updated: Jun 25, 2018

If I had a dollar for every time my goats did what they were supposed to do, I’d have a dollar.

I’m pretty sure normal people don’t have goats as their reputation for trouble is well known. But goats only need do one thing right in my book to be worth all the trouble. Goats eat poison ivy, bless their fuzzy little hearts.

My children and I are so allergic to poison ivy we can’t even discuss it without one of us coming downstairs looking like a leper the next morning. My son was actually sent home from high school because he made his teachers too itchy just looking at him. Of course, his eyes were so swollen he practically needed a white-tipped cane to navigate the hallways, but that was an improvement from the days before, so I had sent him to school feeling like a successful mother. When I picked him up a few hours later (at least I think it was him, he was so puffy it was difficult to make out his features) I felt less successful, more along the lines of cruel.


I first saw a family with goats on Youtube, the place where bad ideas look a lot like good ones.

They lived in suburbia and everything their goats ate came out of a bag with the contents stated clearly on the label. The goats looked healthy, happy, and nutritionally balanced. My goats, a lot like my family, are not so lucky. My kids favorite party trick is to drink water right from the muddiest part of the creek through a straw that is supposed to filter all the harmful bacteria away. I’m pretty sure it works.


My goats also seem to like to live life on the edge. We do not live in suburbia and much of the goats’ food does not come out of nutritionally balanced feed bags. There are actually a lot of things that grow in the wilds of NC that goats are not supposed to eat. Mountain Laurel happens to be on the top of that list. Mountain Laurel also happened to be at the top of my hill, and the bottom, and a little on the sides. Two of my goats have lived for years nibbling Mtn Laurel like middle schoolers daring eachother to stick a fork in the outlet, without getting burned. But then we got Daisy. Daisy is a full-sized goat that discovered that there is nothing tastier in the world than the top of a Mtn. Laurel bush. She had herself quite a meal of Mtn. Laurel her first day here. She loved it! Her first night she didn’t look so good. Her stomach rumbled like a volcano about to spew. And spew she did. Interesting fact about goats, they can’t throw up without shaking their heads from side to side, effectively painting the entire inside of the barn a meaningful shade of green. Daisy was sick for days. So many days I thought she wasn’t going to make it. I nursed her back to health, coaxed drinks into her, fed her nibbles of hay until she was well enough to stand. It was a miracle. Daisy must have thought so too, she immediately celebrated by breaking out of the pen and eating the top off a Mtn. Laurel bush. Goats are not the easiest animals to have around. Normal people have kittens. Get a kitten. Leave goats to the crazy lepers in NC.


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