RAISING AMADEUS | FARM & GARDEN | Oct /Nov 2015

An afternoon chat with Amadeus, no longer inside the house. Photo: Curtis Seeger

An afternoon chat with Amadeus, no longer inside the house. Photo: Curtis Seeger

By Terri Smith —

As Amadeus has gotten older, he has filled out somewhat. He’s looking much more like just another member of the herd now. But I hadn’t really realized that his looking like one of the herd would also lead to him to actually becoming one of the herd.

You see, now that he’s (just about) a proper goat, he can no longer safely negotiate getting down the balcony stairs. His rear end is just too big and his little goat legs are just too skinny. I’m sure some goats could manage without problem, but Amadeus seems to be lacking the gene that has led to expressions such as, “sure-footed as a mountain goat.”

He falls down while walking—on flat ground. Balcony stairs are not something most goats have to worry about anyway, but until a few weeks ago we still let Amadeus in every day to have a drink of water and a lick of baking soda, and then a handful of sunflower seeds to lure him back outside.

Most evenings, on coming in from the garden, Ahmie would meet us before we reached the house, then trot happily along beside us until I would stop him at the door.

“Do you need to poop?” I would ask him before opening the door. This never struck me as an odd thing to say in this moment, as I wanted him to associate the sound of the question with the pause for him to go before entering the house. Goats are such creatures of habit, and he had gotten into the habit of leaving goat droppings across the basement floor and up the stairs until I started stopping him at the door to change the habit so that he would relieve himself before entering the house.

(It didn’t strike me as odd—since nothing about Amadeus is odd to me anymore—until one day I had a new helper walking out of the garden with me. She looked more than a little concerned when we reached the house and I stopped suddenly, turned around, and demanded, “Do you need to poop?” She was greatly relieved when she realized I was talking to the goat.

Going up the stairs never seems to be a problem for Amadeus. But going down the stairs has become too difficult for him. He has a tendency to lose his balance and try to topple over. If someone is right beside him he’s sometimes okay, but he has scared himself too many times now and often tries to leap from the middle of the stairway to miss the rest. This usually means he ends up belly-flopping onto the bottom few steps. I tried carpeting the stairs with upholstery fabric to give him more traction, and I’ve tried every method of holding onto him and helping him down, but all to no avail. To save him from breaking a leg or worse, we have had to make a decision not to let him in the house anymore. My kid has finally left home. And he doesn’t mind a bit!

Terri Smith is an organic vegetable farmer in the Cariboo with Road’s End Vegetable Company. She has a Bachelor’s degree in literature and a diploma in art.

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