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I Suffer from MGS (Multiple Goat Syndrome)...and not by choice

Back in October I was in Alexandria for a training class. Before heading home I looked at my cell phone and saw I had forgotten to turn the ringer back on. I had four missed calls from my dad. Instant fear set in. What was wrong? You don't call someone four times if everything is okay.

I quickly called him back with my adrenaline pumping. The last time I missed a number of calls from him was this past summer when he had flipped a tractor off his flatbed truck and was being hauled via ambulance to the hospital. What he had to say this time was much more horrifying than his earlier brush with death. He had been on Craigslist, and a herd - a literal herd of goats - were on their way to my house. He lives at the lake 25 minutes away, is a snow bird and I have a hobby farm. Key word being hobby farm, I'm not a full time farmer, yet. Keep in mind we just moved back to the area a little over a year ago, after being in the suburbs of Chicago for ten years. We live in the country but didn't have a barn, fencing, hay, straw, feeders or automatic waters — basically we had nothing that is needed to take care of a herd of goats — except for a lot of buckthorn for them to eat and a credit card that is now on fire. The cashiers at the various farm stores in the area actually start clapping when they see me walk through the doors.

I hung up, said a few choice words and hauled back to our house to see what was going on. I left Alexandria at 8:30 p.m. I can't publish what time I got back to Sebeka because I don't want to incriminate myself, so I'll just say I'm pretty sure a speed record was set.

Up until this point we had our chickens, two peahens, five guineas and two Pygmy goats. Their home is in a modified 8 ft. by 10 ft. fish house. Complete with laying boxes, windows and a storage bench. There was certainly no more room in the inn.

I pulled into the driveway, screeched to a stop, jumped out of the van and realized I was too late. The drop had been made and my husband was standing there shaking his head. I'm not going to lie, I was solely responsible for bringing all of the other animals home. I may or may not have brought the two Pygmy goats and peahens home in the back of our minivan, in a portable dog cage. How they got there isn't important, their transport was safe and they were comfortable. The point is that I had made the decision to bring them home. But I had nothing to do with this. He told he wasn't buying it and I shouldn't be selling it. Shockingly, my dad was nowhere in sight; in fact, I'm pretty sure he was at a card game in another county.

In all, we are now the co-owners of six Saanen goats; one older nanny, two younger nannies and three billy goats that were all born this year. The next day while researching I found out that these are some of the best dairy goats around, hearty, sweet, originally from the Saanen Valley in Switzerland and a lot bigger than our tiny Pygmy goats. Full grown the billy goats will top 200 pounds and the nanny goats will weigh in at about 150 pounds. Oh, they also have an unusually high occurrence of multiple kid births, triplets being the most common. Fantastic. Since I am the mother of two sets of twins, I don't have odds in my favor.

The nannies spent the night in with the chickens and Pygmies while the billy goats hung out in the big outdoor dog kennel. Our eight-year-old girls got right to work on naming them and said this was the best day of their lives. The older nanny is Beauty, the two younger nannies are Peach Blossom and Crystal. The billy goats are Buck, William and Bill.

My dad came over the next day to check out *his* purchase and to assemble pens with my husband so the goats could get to work eating buckthorn. The goats did such an amazing job clearing weeds that the pens had to be moved every couple of days. We finally decided cattle panels would be the best fencing option to make two huge pens.

A couple weeks into this adventure, I get a call from my dad with the news that the goats must have gotten out because they were all in with the birds and Pygmies. Our neighbor, Mr. Schoon, came to our rescue once again. He must think I am the worst farmer ever. He's corralled the Pygmies when they got out this summer, wrangled the newest six back home and was housing one of our escaped peahens. The news of the newest escape is particularly upsetting since they males and females were kept separate. It turns out that the billy goats got themselves out and then came over to let the ladies out. According to my calculations, we will probably be having nine baby goats (called kids) at the end of March or the beginning of April and I'm looking forward to them! I'm not kidding! Yet....