All posts by Nan Hassey

First off the 2024 assembly line!

Introducing the first two models off the 2024 Goat-O-Rama assembly line! They’re so new they haven’t got names yet, but I’m sure we’ll be thinking of some shortly! Snowball showed us first thing this morning that she was ready to have kids any time and she didn’t want me to leave the pen. This is a first for her, as she usually likes to kid sometime around 2:00 in the morning, but I was pleased we could be there to assist. It turns out maybe she knew we needed to be there as she seemed to have a bit of trouble pushing these kids out even though they were presented correctly. I’m sure she’d have got them out eventually without help, but it was nice to be able to move things along a bit when progress stalled.

First to hit the ground at around 11:00 a.m. was a beautiful 8 lb. two-tone chamoisee baby girl. She looks a lot like her older sister, Molly! The next was a lovely 9 lb. white buckling with gray/blue roan spots. He’s practically Pongo’s double! We helped Snowball dry them off and get them into the shed and out of the wind, which was beginning to howl. The kids were up and nursing in almost no time at all.

Phil thinks this little guy looks like a “Gandalf.” I’m inclined to agree. Let’s see how we feel about it over the next couple days!

We have no idea what this little girl’s name will be, but I’m sure she’ll discover her name before long.


Listen to their little cute baby squeaks!

Life in the goat lane…

Yesterday I went for a walk around Lake Beckwith in Colorado City with a friend of mine. I took Finn and Pongo with me and we had a great time. But then on the way home the water pump in my truck seized and broke the serpentine belt! I lost my power steering and the engine quickly began to heat up so I pulled onto the shoulder and raised the hood. Here I am sitting by the side of the road with two goats in the back of my truck and no way to get home. Phil was inaccessible. It was just after 5:00 on a Sunday and he was busy with his livestream. He wouldn’t have heard the phone even if it rang 50 times.

But as luck would have it, a lady who lives just a short distance past my house happened to be driving by and she stopped to see what was going on. It’s impossible not to recognize the crazy lady who drives around the valley with goats in her truck! I asked my neighbor if she could stop by my house on her way home and bang on the window of the room where Phil does his livestream. She said she could do that, but in the meantime it was getting dark and quickly getting cold! I knew it would be a little while before Phil could get his boots on and come to our rescue, so I unloaded Finn and Pongo and began marching up the highway. I’m happy that the road has a nice wide shoulder because the traffic was relatively heavy as commuters came home from work, and nearly everyone drives too fast. But the boys were good and Finn was downright stately. He marched up the highway with his head held high and a dignified air about him. Pongo bounced along beside us, trying hard to imitate Finn but jumping behind my leg in fright every time a vehicle flew past us. We walked about a mile and it was almost dark when Phil pulled up.

Just as Phil arrived another neighbor drove up with his truck and said he’d seen me and the goats hiking up the highway and had turned around and come back to see if we needed a lift. It feels great to know there are so many helpful and caring people in this valley who will stop and offer their assistance when I break down, even when I have goats in tow!

Merry Christmas!

Well, 2023 is almost over and I’ve barely said anything on this blog during the past year. It was a hard year in many ways but it had some really good bits too. I will say that this Christmas season has been one of the best ever. Certainly the best in many years! We had a grand time at the Beulah Parade and Yule Log Festival in early December. Sonic and Scout, who had only pulled the carriage about three times before (and only once without Finn hitched in front), leaned boldly into their harnesses and made us proud in the Beulah Parade of Lights. They looked magnificent and I only had to get out and lead them for a short way during the scariest part of the parade. I’m very proud of them and amazed that they did so well with almost no preparation.

Next morning Phil and I headed out to the Beulah Yule Log Festival with a couple of goats and our friends Zen and Vanessa. There was a delicious chili lunch beforehand this year so for the first time ever we didn’t hunt for the Yule Log hungry!

Finn is now a well-known fixture at the Yule Log celebration. He’s been attending since 2015 and several young kids asked Phil if Finn had been coming to the Yule Log “forever.” Phil looked down at these 8-year-old children and said, “Yep!” Because as far as these kids were concerned, Finn HAD been coming forever!

And look who made his debut at the Yule Log this year! Pongo accompanied Finn and learned the ropes. When it came time to haul the Yule Log back from its hiding place, Finn leaned into the harness and really helped things along. Pongo’s effort, on the other hand, was mostly symbolic and sometimes counter-productive, but I think he had a good time and he was so cute no one could get mad at him even when he pulled the wrong way. 

The boys waited patiently for cookies after the log was successfully hauled back to the lodge. Finn acted like he was eager for a treat but ended up not wanting anything we offered him. Pongo, on the other hand, takes after old Sputnik. He never met a cookie he didn’t like! Pongo wolfed down everything we put in front of his face and begged for more. I think this little guy is going to have very happy memories the Yule Log Festival!

This was a particularly fun year because I signed up to be a bellringer for the Salvation Army! I asked if I could ring in front of our local Ace Hardware and Valley Market grocery store and they said I could! So I picked up the kettle and the bell, a “Volunteer” apron and a pin and we rang the bell in 2-hour shifts six different days during the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Pongo came along as my sidekick and ended up stealing the entire show. I’m not nearly cute enough to get anyone to come over and donate money, but Pongo sure is! By the end of the first two-hour shift he had learned how to ring the bell. Notice the red wooden handle on this bell.

Next time around I had to wrap the wooden handle in white duct tape because Pongo had almost chewed through the wood. Notice I also added a “Volunteer” pin to his hat!
By the end of the third day the bell handle was toast, so I made a new one from a piece of dowel rod, and I wrapped this handle in a thick piece of leather so Pongo couldn’t destroy it so easily. This bell handle held up better to the abuse. Here’s Pongo with his hat, his badge, his bell, and his kettle. It was hard for anyone to walk by and NOT donate! After all, it’s worth at least a dollar to see a goat ring a bell!   
As a side project, Pongo wandered around the store and pulled up a few weeds that were growing between the cracks in the pavement. The store employees were thrilled and asked if Pongo could come back regularly to do this job during the summer months.
I loved this lady’s festive Christmas outfit so much I had to get a photo of her. Notice the shirt: “Brew-dolf”! Also, the sweater featured Snoopy and Woodstock. My mother-in-law would have been very pleased.
We rang the bell for an extra hour the last day and Pongo was exhausted. Here he is conked out in the front seat of my truck with his head on my lap. What a sweet buddy!   

I’ll leave you with this cute video of Pongo proudly ringing his bell!

A Unicorn Hitch!

Guess what we did today!!

We drove our goats in UNICORN FORMATION for the first time this afternoon! We had Sonic and Scout hitched to the big wagon for the first time. They did splendidly! We’ve only ever hitched them to the small garden cart two times and that was sometime last spring. But as if hitching them to the big cart and using bits for the first time wasn’t enough, we attached a singletree to the front of the team pole and drove Finn out front!

It was a little chaotic for the first moment or two while Finn twisted and tried to turn round to face the others, but Phil stayed at his head and got him straightened out. Once we got Finn walking it went magnificently. He tried once or twice more to turn around when we’d stop the carriage, but after he got tangled up on the traces and reins one time he quit doing that. He’s a very smart goat and figured it out very quickly. No one had to walk at his head after the first 50 yards or so and Phil and I both took turns driving with the other walking a little behind, ready to jump into the action if the goats misbehaved. But once we were halfway around the circle without any major mishaps, we both got in the carriage and rode together the rest of the way. It was amazing!

I hope we can practice enough to drive them like this in the two Christmas parades in December! It’s a little weird handling two sets of reins but we soon got used to it. There are a few things I still need to adjust because our hitch isn’t quite balanced correctly, but I’m mighty impressed with how our goats handled this entirely new experience. (A new experience for ALL of us, I might add! I’ve never driven a unicorn hitch or even a four-in-hand before, and unicorn hitches are one of the harder hitches to handle.) GOOD BOYS!!!

Halloween ’23

It’s been a while since I’ve paid much attention to this blog. My apologies. I’ve lazily allowed Phil to take it over with links to his livestreams, which are wonderful but they don’t tell the stories. At some point I may go back and fill in all the blanks over the last couple of years, but we’ll see.

Does anyone remember my costume from the ’80’s party back in February 2020? I’ve been waiting impatiently to resurrect it with a goat in tow and last night I finally got the chance! I went as Jareth the Goblin King from the movie Labyrinth and I dressed Maya up as Toby.

The reference:

I’m a big pudgy and the outfit is form-fitting without layers, but I bundled up underneath and was popping at the seams. Nevermind. I stayed warm enough with all those long johns and undershirts! A lot of folks don’t get the reference these days but the ones who did thought it was the best costume there. Maya, of course, stole the show. My favorite was when kids would come over to get candy, see Maya, and immediately forget all about trick-or-treat because they wanted to pet the baby goat. Maya was awesome. She was completely chill all evening and let everyone pet her. She wasn’t afraid of any of the costumes – not even dinosaurs, werewolves, or jellyfish. A few folks came up to introduce their dogs to her despite my telling them please not to. She never once startled or backed away from any of the be-costumed dogs. She was amazing! 

Phil went as a pirate and froze to death without his long johns and gloves:

And here was our truck setup. I think it came out rather well this year! We had less than one hour to carve all these pumpkins after Phil got off work. I think they came out rather well! 

A Rocky Start

Pongo had a rough first couple of days. It took him about 48 hours to finally start getting up and walking on his own. Phil or I would go out every hour or two and give him a bit of physical therapy in the form of standing him up, supporting him as he shuffled along, and moving his joints, which seemed to want to flex in every direction. We were also concerned that his heartbeat and breathing were abnormally fast. I have a wonderful friend who is a vet and I asked her to come take a look at him on Tuesday. When she arrived, I grabbed both babies from where they were laying in their shelter and brought them into the house where we could all be warm during Pongo’s examination. It was when I plunked Perdy down on the floor that the vet noticed she wasn’t standing on her right. She’d been hopping around only an hour earlier! We had a look and the leg was broken near the hock joint. I realized with horror that some goat must have stepped on her! I don’t have any goats that are mean to babies, but Perdy must have been lying in the doorway of the shelter or under one of the feeders and got trampled by accident.

So it turned out to be a good thing I had the vet here! She made a splint for Perdy’s leg and then she checked out Pongo. She agreed that his heartbeat was abnormally fast, but she couldn’t hear anything really wrong with it. He’s bright and active and has a pretty good appetite so she said to just keep doing what we were doing with the physical therapy.   

Because we now had two special needs kids, we decided to set up an enclosure in our basement where we could keep an eye on them and make sure no other goats could step on them. We brought Snowball in to feed them and settle them into their new temporary home before taking her back outside.

Babies love having a cubby hole to hide in, so we found a cardboard box for them to crawl into. It barely fits the two of them together, but I think they like being smooshed in there.


We were expecting cold weather the next day, but the predicted storm passed us by and we were able to let the babies out with their mama in the big pen for most of the day. Pongo was intrigued by the dog, who responded to Pongo’s inquisitive prodding with a slow flapping of his tail. It was pretty adorable!

Perdy adapted to her cast pretty quickly and was hopping around and exploring just as much as her brother. In some ways this is convenient. Having a baby goat with a broken leg is sad, but since her brother is slow to develop it’s slowed her down to his pace. She was kind of jumping all over him before and being a little bit annoying. Now they are both shuffling around and gaining mobility at a similar pace.

Snowball was happy to enjoy a day of sunshine with her new little family. I closed the gate so the other goats couldn’t bother them.

Today Phil and I brought the babies into the house for a while. They found a nook beside the washing machine and promptly curled up in it. Too cute!

We’re Seeing Spots!

We have some new arrivals! Meet Perdy and Pongo! (I’ll bet you can’t tell why we named them that.) I’ve always wanted a Dalmatian dog, but I’m sure I’ll never have one. They just aren’t practical for farm life. But having black and white spotted goats is surely even better!

We were watching Snowball all day yesterday, but I was pretty sure she’d have these two during the night and I was correct. I couldn’t get to sleep because I kept watching her, but I finally dozed off after a final check at 1:00 a.m. I was shaken awake at 2:45 by Phil who had checked the camera and spotted two wet kids wriggling on the ground! It looked like Pongo had just been born about 10-15 minutes earlier and was still pretty wet while Perdy was already cleaned off and attempting to stand. So they must’ve been born between 2:00-2:30. They are adorable and Snowball is doing just grand.

It’s hard to tell these two babies apart. Perdy has lighter gray spots down her back and Pongo’s are darker. They both have black spots on the backs of their necks, but Pongo’s spot is bigger. Still, it’s going to be a job telling who’s who at first glance!

This is Pongo. He’s having a little trouble standing up. The ligaments in his hind end are still all loosey-goosey so his back legs won’t support him yet, but I gave him some selenium and vitamin E and he’s already improving! He sure has no trouble nursing when I hold him up to the milk bar!

This is Perdy. Isn’t she precious?

And tonight you can see them in Phil’s fiddle livestream! 

A Beautiful Christmas Gift

Over late summer and fall, Phil and I made friends with a couple, Zen and Vanessa, who recently moved to our area. Zen built us a 20,000 gallon rainwater cistern that, when full, should supply all of our household needs through many months of drought. Zen and Vanessa both fell in love with our goats and hope to get their own someday. For Christmas, Vanessa knitted some lovely, warm hats for Phil and I (I’m sure you’ll see them eventually in future blog posts), and Zen painted these gorgeous watercolor pictures of Finn and dear departed Sputnik. I’m amazed that he was able to do such a great job from looking at a couple of my blog post pictures on a tiny cell phone screen. These now occupy a special place in our dining room.

These are the Things We Choose to Remember…

Last week I said goodbye to my dear friend Sputnik. I did not expect to lose him so soon. Sputnik’s legs weren’t straight. In 2017 I took him to CSU to have his joints x-rayed because they were not aligned correctly. The vets thought his tendons were contracted. We hoped they would eventually stretch down, and they did a little bit, but it was never enough to give him flexible joints. He was always stiff-legged and a little bit clumsy, but he loved to work and he was not sore, so we didn’t limit his activities in any way. Our long trek through Death Hollow in 2019 changed all of that. Sputnik came away from the adventure with a lot of pain in his lower front legs and especially in the right front. A few days’ break and some anti-inflammatory medication set him right again, but it was the beginning of his winding down.

Our trip to South Dakota in September 2021 was Sputnik’s last. Although he loved being out on the trail, he was sore most of the week. He avoided the trail whenever possible, preferring to walk on the softer grass to the side. We took it easy on him but he was slow and needed frequent breaks.

Sputnik’s last big event was the Christmas parade in December 2021. I gave him painkillers a few hours before and he did a grand job pulling our carriage alongside Finn, but he was limping by the end. He went well through the winter and I hoped that he would be fine as a pasture ornament and occasional carriage puller for the next couple of years. Unfortunately it was not to be. Sputnik’s limp got progressively worse as the weather turned warm, and when June rolled around he began to go downhill rapidly. In the course of just three weeks he went from happily limping around the yard to barely walking on his right front leg at all. He could no longer keep up with the herd. Medication did not stop the daily worsening of his condition. The lameness rapidly became so severe it began affecting the rest of his body. So on June 23rd–one week after Sputnik’s 8th birthday–we quietly laid him to rest and buried him beside his mother, Petunia, who also died untimely in January 2020.

Sputnik was a unique and brilliant individual with a devotion to learning new tricks. Words cannot encompass all that he was, so I will post my favorite photos throughout the years and our many adventures together. Sputnik’s life may have been short, but it was cram-jammed with travel and excitement. One thing I can say for certain is that Sputnik never led a dull life. And this is how I choose to remember him…

June 16th, 2014. My first difficult delivery. Sputnik was the second born kid and before his head was fully out he had his name. I’ve often been asked where I came up with that name and I can’t say. He was just born with it. I found out years later that it means “fellow traveler.”
In October I tattooed ears and the green ink smeared in a rainstorm. It was suitably ghoulish for the season.  
Hubba-hubba!

Ears!!!

Sputnik loved performing tricks. Here he is showing off at the Weld County Goat Extravaganza in April 2015.

Sputnik’s first trip to Utah in September 2015.

I had just taught Sputnik how to give kisses. We had a romantic moment under the pictographs at The Window in the San Rafael Swell.

We followed it up with a trip to Escalante where Sputnik learned to carry a packsaddle.

Calf Canyon Falls, Escalante, UT.

Jumping parking barriers at the Yule Log Festival in Beulah, CO. The Yule Log Festival became an annual tradition for us.

Hiking Graneros Gorge near Colorado City, CO in spring 2016. For such a wildly spotted goat, Sputnik had a rare talent for blending in perfectly with the background.

2016 was the summer we taught the boys to drive. So we drove to Dairy Queen one hot summer day after the County Fair and took advantage of the drive-thru window.

Sputnik helped teach the kids at the packgoat competition at the Pueblo County Fair. He was always very patient with them.

Teaching kids how to drive a team of goats at the Fair.

Climbing Uncompahgre Peak near Lake City, CO in late September, 2016.

I made a practice of having Sputnik jump over or through unusual things.

Bartlett Trail near Rye, CO in October 2016.

Hauling in the Christmas tree December 2016.

We finished off 2016 with a local hike to a frozen waterfall near San Isabel.

Sputnik was the hero of the hike when I attached a leash to the back of his saddle so he could pull three women up a steep, icy slope.

Sputnik and I enjoy a pleasant afternoon drive in early 2017.

Sputnik all duded up in his Easter finery. He was always a hit pulling the kids around in his cart at the community Easter egg hunt.

In June 2017 I hosted the North American Packgoat Association (NAPgA) Rendezvous in Lake City, CO. Sputnik was one of the celebrities at the event. One of my fondest memories of Sputnik is of remembering his face in the rearview mirror of my truck. He would crane his neck out to the side, lift his face into the wind, and let it blow through his beard and flap his ears wildly around his head.

We climbed Uncompahgre Peak at the NAPgA Rendy. Sputnik was worn out at the top! Here his is taking a break at 14,320 feet above sea level.

Farmer Nan and Rooster Sputnik taking first prize at the Colorado State Fair goat costume contest. Sputnik was a very patient soul!

The International Goat Days Festival in Millington, TN was the pinnacle of Sputnik’s career as a harness goat. I dressed as Juno, Greek goddess of the hunt (or was it war?) who is sometimes depicted driving a goat-drawn chariot.

Sputnik won the famous Goat Days chariot race, edging Finn out by a neck!

After Tennessee, we traveled down to Arkansas where we posed on the famous Hawksbill Crag.

We spent a day tromping down the Buffalo National River and hung out on this big tree.

That was the same trip where a spider spun a web between Sputnik’s horns.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Sputnik. He was a very solemn-looking goat with his noble Roman nose and beard. The line of headstones in this deserted graveyard near a ghost town suited Sputnik’s serious personality.

We stopped in Tulsa, OK on the way home to visit scenes from Weird Al Yankovik’s 1989 move, “UHF.” Sputnik took a long drink out of this lovely fountain.

Viking princess warrior in her goat chariot at the Rye Homecoming parade in 2017! Sputnik was the perfect proud, prancing steed!

Big as he was, Sputnik had a talent for standing on very small objects.

I drove Sputnik to the bank one day. A friend’s young packgoat-in-training tagged along for the adventure.

Rodney was way too big to actually ride Sputnik, but we figured he could sit up there just for this one photo op. Sputnik didn’t seem to mind–in fact, I think he liked the attention.

Sometimes Sputnik was a goofball.

In March 2018, Phil and I took the boys to Missouri. We stopped at a carriage shop in Jasper where they had these enormous Shire statues. Sputnik was alarmed by the giant fake horses!

Earth Day 2018. We picked up a shocking amount of garbage along Boulder Ave. outside of Rye!

In June 2018 we stopped in Utah on our way to the NAPgA Rendezvous in Idaho so we could visit our friend Herb. We loved these bright yellow and purple rocks!
The drought in early 2018 was intense and the Spring Fire (one of the largest in Colorado history) was roaring less than an hour south of us, filling the sky with smoke and ash. I bathed and clipped the boys for the 4th of July parade and took some glamour shots in the odd light.

We debuted our fancy new carriage at the Westcliffe 4th of July parade that year!

In late July, 2018, the floodgates opened and Colorado turned green again. Tragically, I lost my horse Jet to a lightning strike during one of those intense storms. For months I’d been planning to attend an “all-women’s pack trip” in the Mount Massive Wilderness near Aspen with the editor of Pack Animal Magazine. Because of Jet’s devastating loss only two days before, I almost canceled my plans. I’m so glad I didn’t! Sputnik was a total Boss on this trip! He carried a 48 lb. pack and was eager to do it!

At the end of August Phil and I drove the boys and their carriage in the Colorado State Fair Parade.

The boys made a lovely turnout, but the long wait during lineup was exhausting!

That fall Phil and I took a trip to Taos, NM. We stopped at Wheeler National Monument near Creede, CO on our way there. What a unique place it is!

Sputnik and I took a break on a hiking trail overlooking Taos.

Snow fell the night before our last hike in Taos. This is one of my other favorite pictures of Sputnik. The aspen leaves lying on the freshly fallen snow were breathtakingly beautiful, and Sputnik blended perfectly with the backdrop.

Sputnik and Finn became traditional fixtures at the annual Beulah Yule Log Festival. It was expected for them to wear their harnesses and help drag the Yule Log back to the pavillion after it was discovered from its hiding place in the woods.

2019 was a Banner Year. Phil and I took the boys to Texas in April where we hosted a small NAPgA Rendezvous and visited my relatives. Sputnik showed off his tricks for my family.

My grandfather’s wife, Dominique, took a cart ride around their yard.

I had a hard time persuading my grandfather, Charles, to take a ride, but Sputnik finally managed to persuade him.

Charles and Dominique’s yard was full of tasty green things to eat! Mmm!

During the Texas trip we stopped at a nursing home where my aunt’s mother Peggy lived. She grew up with goats and always said they were her favorite animal. While there, Sputnik gave rides not only to Peggy but also to the other residents in the home.

And he entertained the crowd with his tricks, as always.

Sputnik introduced our friend Connie Losee to goat driving at the Texas Rendy.

The main NAPgA Rendy was held in Wyoming in June that year.

I set up an obstacle course and Sputnik showed everyone how it was done!

Strangely, Sputnik was one of the only goats I knew that liked baths. He loved to have the water sprayed directly into his face.

We took friends hiking to a local arch that summer. Sputnik carried everyone’s picnic lunches and helped tow some of the older folks up the big hill near the end.

In September 2019 we went back to Ferron, UT and met up with friends from Washington state and their packgoats. Taffy and her faithful and beloved friend, Bourbon, are in the back. Sadly, Bourbon passed away in the prime of his life like Sputnik.

Skillfully navigating the rock formations in Goblin Valley, UT.

We camped out in the San Rafael Swell and hiked to The Window on this trip, just as we’d done in 2015.

Another photo under the pictographs. My, how Sputnik grew since the last time!

Sputnik was very good at helping me down steep slopes. He always held steady so I could use him for an anchor.

Exploring Little Wild Horse Canyon.

After we left the Swell, we traveled south to Escalante where we hiked up the Escalante River.

Only a minute after this photo was taken, and less than 15 feet from the spot where he’s standing, Sputnik stepped in quicksand and sank immediately up to his chest. He couldn’t move and Phil and I worked frantically to remove his packs so we could pull him out.

The greatest adventure I ever had with Sputnik was the time we got lost in Death Hollow. The camera was waterlogged that day so there were no photographs of that beautiful place, and the goats marched admirably for much longer than they should’ve had to. When we climbed out the next day and continued our trek back toward Escalante, Sputnik’s feet were bothering him. Nevertheless, he plodded steadily along, carrying his saddle and our tent without complaint.

Sputnik matching the scenery as usual…

The bacon zone at Bighorn Canyon!

Sputnik discovered a love of Gatorade on that trip!

Sputnik’s last Yule Log Festival. The pandemic canceled festivities in 2020 and 2021.

But it was a very enjoyable last Yule Log Festival. Sputnik tried every variety of goodie from the cookie table, and he even got his own cup of wassail (which he LOVED!)!

Sputnik helped me haul logs that winter. Look how proud he was!

2020 was an odd year for everyone and ours was no exception. But in September 2020 we visited our friend Herb in Ferron, UT and we had a great time hiking the formations in his neck of the woods. It was our best adventure with Herb ever!

“Goodie, please? Goodie-goodie-goodie?”

Blending in again as usual.

Phil and I ended that trip by stopping off at Rattlesnake Arches in Fruita, CO. Sputnik was exhausted after Ferron and became very footsore, but by the time we realized he was too lame to hike, we’d gone too far and there was nothing to do but press on around the loop. His usual enthusiasm wasn’t there so the trip was difficult and not nearly as fun as expected. Still, it was a beautiful place and I’d like to go back and remember it how Sputnik would have liked to enjoy it–without sore feet.

January 2021 after-Christmas party!

The community Easter egg hunt was cancelled in 2020, and it was modified in 2021. There were no Easter eggs and no goat cart rides, but we filled the goats’ packs with bags of candy to hand out to the kids as their parents drove them through the park. Sputnik was a big hit.

In September 2021, Sputnik took his final road trip. We traveled to South Dakota, stopping on the way give the goats a break at a city park in Nebraska.

Sputnik enjoyed the hiking, but he laid down to rest his feet at every opportunity. He couldn’t bear to see the other goats get saddled and not wear one himself, so I saddled him up each morning but I didn’t tell him his panniers were empty.

A rare moment with Sputnik in the lead.

Finn became kinder toward Sputnik as Sputnik’s lameness became more prominent. They spent more time lying down together and less time with Finn bossing Sputnik around.

We had a last mini-Rendezvous with some other goatpackers in Slim Buttes, SD. It was Sputnik’s last hoorah and he did very well for himself. He still managed to outpack several other goats on the trip even on our extra-long day hike. But there would be no trip afterwards. Our next adventure was in Utah and I knew the slickrock would be murder on his poor feet. He’d earned his retirement, even if it was early.

Goodbye, dear friend, my faithful “fellow traveler.” May your feet be sound and pain-free as you hike on in the next life.

Funny Funny Finn-Finn

There’s a reason I often look at Finn and say, “Funny funny Finn-Finn!” 

Finn is a clown and a show-off, and he’s the ultimate “Hold my beer!” goat. Finn is always fun to watch, but today he was in rare form! I drove from town with a load of water and groceries and the goats were all jumping and skipping on the rocks and lawn in front of our house. Everyone looked lively. Young Sapphire was a bolt of lightning ricocheting off the rocks with her tail in the air while Sonic and Scout took turns rushing up to Finn in feint attacks. Finn, however, was running circles around everyone with his hackles raised, tail erect, and ears cocked. He was only partially reacting to the other goats. Mostly the other goats were reacting to him as he spun, danced, whirled, leaped, caprioled, and launched himself full-speed off boulders. He ran figure-8’s through the herd, sending pregnant does and young bucks scattering in all directions. Sonic tried to match Finn’s machismo several times, but soon ran off in alarm as Finn’s antics escalated.

I unhitched the trailer and honked the horn as I drove through the mayhem to park near the house. Finn snorted and launched himself around the yard again at full speed. As I unloaded groceries from the back seat, I suddenly found myself attacked from the rear as Finn leaped up and tried to jump over my shoulder into the truck! I screamed with surprise and anger and Finn snorted in alarm and bounced off my back. He was a little more careful of my space after that, but he marched up to the house with me and tried to follow me through the porch gate. I could tell he was about to leap it. Finn went through a gate-leaping phase a few years ago and we cured it by keeping a full cup of water near the front door. I could see the temptation to clear the gate battling a memory of cold water in the face. 

Finn wisely turned and cavorted around the yard, but he clearly had an urge to do something more spectacular. I was taking another load of groceries out of the truck when Finn looked me square in the eye, sized up the height of the truck bed, then suddenly launched himself over the raised tailgate! Had he not been looking me in the eye when he made the leap, I’m sure he would have easily cleared it, but in his urge to make sure I was watching him, he misjudged the jump and hung a front leg. He clung there for a few seconds, scrambling to get his hind feet over, but the one front leg that hadn’t cleared the jump was in the way. With an unceremonious crash, he fell onto his back, legs flailing in the air. He quickly rolled over and leaped to his feet with a hangdog look about him. I’m sure he wished in that moment that the ground would swallow him up. He gathered up the pieces of his pride and stalked primly off in the other direction. 

Things settled down quickly after that. Finn tried to shake it off by trotting nonchalantly around the yard, but he’s lame right now. His left front leg is sore from trying to heave the rest of his bulk over the tailgate and I’m going to guess it will stay sore for a few days. Still, it was a noble effort and I’m sure his spirit isn’t dampened. The fact that something is too high for him to jump has rarely stopped him from trying. Even in this case, I’m quite sure if he’d kept his eye on the target instead of on me he would have cleared that leap without touching a foot to the tailgate. He did it once before as a young goat when the truck was moving. He’s heavier now, but he’s strong and I think he could still clear it if he weren’t so intent on looking at me and saying, “Watch this!”