FORT KENT, Maine — OK, so I’m just going to come right out and say it: I don’t get goats.
I know, I know – I live in the country, on a farm with plenty of room. How can it be that there are not at least one or two of the furry little critters gamboling about?
Google “goats” and 111 million — that’s with an “m” — results are found.
There are goat breeds, goat husbandry, goat food, baby goats, goats in sweaters, goats in pajamas, goats doing yoga, runaway goats doing a ridealong with the Belfast police and the most famous Maine goat of all, Buttermilk who has her own YouTube channel.
Goats, these days, are all over the internet and popping up on small and large farms across the state.
The one place you will never, ever find a goat, however, is on Rusty Metal Farm.
Frankly, they creep me out.
Maybe it’s those rectangular eyeballs. Or, perhaps it’s the fact they always look like they are plotting something devious.
Whatever it is, RMF is a definite “No Goats Allowed” zone.
This mystifies my friends who are goat fans and proud goat owners.
“Look at all the brush you want cleared out,” on friend told me a few years back. “Goats would do a dandy job taking care of that for you.”
Uh huh. Not long after that recommendation, this same friend, who also had a substantial amount of brush in need of clearing, went out and purchased two goats.
She brought them home, unloaded them and pointed the pair to the nearest patch of scrubby growth.
The goats took a few steps, cocked their heads, squinted their creepy rectangular eyes and immediately made a beeline past the brush and to my friend’s carefully tended fruit trees.
By the end of several weeks, and countless hours of fence building and re-building where the pair had managed to bust through, my friend finally had to concede.
Goats may make great brush browsers, but they make far more efficient fruit tree pruners.
These same two goats also had an affinity for following anyone into the outhouse.
Let me just say this about that — sharing the somewhat limited and private space with two oversized goats trying to jam their way in in no way endeared them to me as a farm animal or pet.
My friend Kim became the owner of two goats who needed re-homing some years back and bought into the brush-eating idea.
“I tied them out near some tasty bush and they just stood there going, ‘Nayaaaa,’” Kim recalled. “So I’d go untie them and they’d head right to the garden.”
Not long after, they were re-rehomed.
“But you love goat milk and goat cheese,” my goat-loving friends point out.
Guilty as charged. I am more than happy to enjoy the wonderful products produced by goats. I just in no way want any part of that process.
Another friend who sought to prove me wrong one year pointed with great pride to the pair of milk goats she had just procured.
“Just wait,” she said. “I’m going to have more fresh milk and cheese than you can imagine, and all I have to do is walk out to the barn.”
Sure. And milk the goats, breed the female goats so she has babies thus allowing her to produce more milk for more cheese.
It was a barnyard cycle of life that played out quite predictably. Sure, there was plenty of milk flowing, but those baby goats kept coming and cute they may be as kids, they grew up to be creepy, nasty adults.
They don’t even taste good.
Of course, not everyone who gets into goats is foiled. There are many people like my friend Mary Beth who would not think of a goat-free lifestyle.
“I love them because they are like livestock, the ‘lite version,’” she told me. “Easy enough to manage on my own [and] I also never realized how much personality they have — just as much as a dog, some are aloof and some are in your pocket annoyingly friendly.
Her small farmstead is home to around 19 goats of varying shapes, sizes and dispositions and she said along with the bounty of fresh dairy, they goats have also added a great quality of life.
“I love that they provide for my family milk and meat,” she said. “And how much they have brought to my children’s lives and how much my kids love them and helping to care for them.”
Apparently, there can never be too many goats at her place. When Mary Beth was up visiting Rusty Metal Farm recently, she got a line on a nifty goat in Masardis.
On her way home from the farm, she stopped off to meet him and when she and her two youngsters got back on the road, “Jasper” the goat was secured in the cab of the truck with them.
Driving with a goat riding shotgun? The stuff of my nightmares.
Once they were all home and Jasper settled in, Mary Beth sent me a photo showing what appeared to be the goat carefully reading a map as they drove along and another of the goat looking at her from the backseat.
A goat in the rearview mirror? I don’t think it get’s much creepier than that.
Julia Bayly of Fort Kent is an award-winning writer and photographer, who writes part time for Bangor Daily News. Her column appears here every other Friday. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.