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I hate mowing grass. It's hot and itchy, and lawn mowers are temperamental. I thought that adopting a goat was a brilliant solution to this problem and, sure enough, a friend of a friend was starting up a small hobby herd of goats for show and milk at Lunaflora Farm (thanks, Shosha and Matt!). One of their goats had given birth to twin boys of Nigerian Dwarf and Swiss Alpine descent. One was white with black and brown spots, and the other was all black with the exception of one white spot on the top of his head. On our first introduction, the two kids—soon to be named Casper and Domino—battled it out to see who could climb on me first and taste my shorts, shirt and hair, a sure sign that they liked me.
As I would later come to find out, goats will eat almost anything, but they certainly won't eat everything, including the ever-growing grass in my yard, which seems to be unaware of any drought that has ever descended upon North Carolina. I'd also hoped to rent them out to a neighborhood friend to take care of his wisteria problem, until I learned that wisteria is one of several plants poisonous to goats. But I had already set eyes on these adorable little creatures and was sure they'd find a loving home in Hillsborough.
So, eight weeks after the meeting them, I asked my friend Arthur to help me pick up the little guys in his 1980s Mercedes station wagon, which he was selling a week later when he returned home to Ireland. Like any good Irishman, he was up for an adventure (with reassurances that I had enough blankets to cover the interior of his car). And though neither of us mentioned it, we collectively had some goat-related karma that needed balancing: One fateful day back in March 2009, we hit a goat while driving to Mvuu Camp in Liwonde National Park, Malawi, never knowing if the goat had died but expecting the worst.
Determined to right this wrong in some small way, I provided Casper and Domino with the best of amenities, including their own deluxe goat shed sporting a tin roof that matches my house and equipped with the fanciest hay and mineral feeder on the market. And they loved their new setup ... until they discovered the holy grail of the backyard: the chicken coop. They lounge in the coop whenever I'm not looking and when I am looking—their tails wiggle and their lips smack, bleating in anticipation of some food and love. Most recently, Casper has been learning to walk on a leash (with limited success), and Domino is trying hard (or hardly trying) to wean from a bottle. And the chickens, well, they're trying to reclaim their reign of the coop.
Leela Aertker, Hillsborough