Why This Cliché “Gets my Goat”



I’ve been careful to chose my words wisely the last two weeks. Neighbors, family, and friends literally “got my goat(s)” but were only a blessing and relief to this inexperienced hobby farmer.

Although no evidence to support the story, the origin of “get your goat” is that goats were placed with racehorses to keep them calm. When ne’er-do-wells wanted the horse to race badly removed it, that is, they “got someone’s goat”, the horse became unsettled and ran badly.

The Phrase Finder

In the recent weeks, here are all the ways I’ve had to modify this phrase to more accurately portray what my neighbors have done for me.

John bought my goats

Just over a year ago, John and Moriah Flannagan invited our family to meet their newborn kids. See blog post regarding this visit! Loving the idea of having an all-in-one lawn mower, supplier of fresh milk and pet grew on us. With an enclosure made, and 4 billies born in January, John was eager to help supply us with one of these animals.

Moriah planned to show at least one at the fair and all were fixed. They would have gone to market after that but we were glad to purchase a billy from the Flannagans.  Goats like companionship and having two seemed twice the fun. Memorial Day weekend John traveled just outside Hull, IA to Michael Harman’s Farm Boer Goats to purchase a nanny as well. Not only did John pick out the goats and trailer them to us, but he also supplied goat feed, treats, feeders and loads of advice on how to raise these animals.

Goats got my goat

Excited to show off the sweet kids, I let the billy and nanny free range outside the pen, anticipating my nephew and niece over for the morning. They made sweet rummaging sounds and stayed close. As soon as my family arrived, they greeted the dog, kitten, and numerous birds…

So why don’t I have photos with the goats?  Because they quickly (and silently) wandered away!  Alone at the house with 5 children to care for, I had no idea what to do. So, I texted Eric, one of our closest friends in the country.

“I’m very embarrassed to say that after letting my two goats out to forage they are nowhere to be found!  In case you or other neighbors spot them, would you let me know?”

He called his daughter Alysha and she replied, “I hear you are missing a couple of goats? Dad just called. I will grab the 4 wheeler and go on a search to see if I can help find them… Glad I am actually home today.”

Before I was able to return her text, Alysha climbed onto her 4 wheeler and traversed our 14 acre property, searching in sloughs and high grass without any luck. My daughters, niece and nephew prayed sincerely that God would help us find these animals.

As a last ditch effort, the kids and I piled into the car and found them only 1/4 mile from our home. Of course, we should have been more specific with our prayers because we once we found them, we had no idea how to capture them! Another series of prayers and an emergency call to Alysha was placed.

Tripping, sprinting, collapsing behind and around these two hoofed beasts seemed impossible. Finally we trapped one under a low lying trailer and pulled it out my its hind legs. The other, bleating for her companion, gave in and joined him in the truck.

Got my neighbors’ goat

Certain never to let the goats out again, we arranged the food and water so we could travel out of town for the weekend. My daughers fed and watered the animals while us adults packed for the lake. As soon as we arrived on Lake Poinsett, with the sun setting over the lake, we got a call from Dick, a neighbor to the north. It should be noted his  farm is a second home to our runaway dog.

“Any chance you’re missing two goats? They are in the field by our property”

– Dick Kramer

ARRR!  What a pain! But there was not much to do until we returned.  I prayed once more that the goats would show up when we got back. Sure enough, within minutes of pulling into the driveway that Sunday,  Dick excitedly reported the delinquents were at his place. With 3 men and 3 women, we caught them quickly then relived the absurdity of it all.

Now that we are back home, I’m happy to say the girls have learned their lesson to lock the enclosure behind them. Furthermore, the goats have small cow bells to help with finding them in the future. And there is NO WAY I am planning on any more animals for a while.

By nature, these creatures can be irritating with their curiosity and independence, but I am still thankful we have them back to watch them grow and experience them as a family. Neighbors in my area are gracious and patient with amateur wanna-be farmers like myself. And unless you have a goat to tame a racehorse, let’s just forget this cliché for a moment and be glad for those who “get your goat”.

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