Peggy: A Goat Story

Sun, 03/19/2017 - 7:30am

Her name is Peggy and she is a goat — a Nigerian Pygmy Goat, or dwarf. Peggy, whose official name is Pegasus, is named after the constellation. We shortened her name to Peggy but not forgetting the horse legacy in her mythological name.

But Peggy, you see, really thinks she is a horse. She spends her days in the pasture with the horses, grazing side by side with these behemoths. There is a reason for this (besides the mythological). Peggy was born on Block Island during a raging ice storm one February night. Then, along with her sister and a half brother from another mother, they were all dropped in an icy field in a block of ice. Two farm ladies waiting for the mothers to deliver the goods found them essentially frozen in the field the next cold morning. Somehow, with great care, they all survived and we still have them to this day. There is, besides Peggy, Pig Boy (Pyxis) and Cat Girl (Cassiopeia) — which are also names of constellations. They were once penned but that didn't last, so they are free ranged. 

Peggy is all black (with a little black goatee) as was her mother, who still resides on another farm on the island. Peggy never forgot her mother and immediately took up with an old mare on our farm called Black, for that very reason. She was all black. Old Black sort of looked at Peggy as her foal and they stood along side each other all day long. When it rained, Peggy stood under Black as the drops rolled off Black, missing Peggy. Peggy thought of Black as her mother and Black acted as if Peggy was her daughter. Now Old Black was, let us say, up in age and not all together at times; but still spent her last days like an old mother or grandmother to Peggy. Loving every minute of her relationship with an animal of another species, Black claimed her as her own. Black died at 40 years old, very old for a horse. We had an animal funeral procession — Peggy taking it the hardest and somewhat confused about the situation; but oh, well, that's life and death on a farm.

It didn't take long for Peggy to take up with our other horses, especially the dark ones: Duke and Indy. Everyone likes a dark horse. To this day they will never step on her and protect her from the rest of the farm animals or roaming dogs. Peggy does get into trouble with the donkeys (who have an attitude of their own). Mimicking the horses who put their ears back, drop their head and chase the donkeys from the hay, Peggy does the same to the donkeys, and even at her minuscule size she’s ready to headbutt anything that challenges her. She is the smallest of the three goats by far, yet fearless in protecting her rights as a goat or horse, whatever she thinks she is. Peggy still loves human contact and is the greatest pet possible — greeting me every morning and preferring a belly rub to a treat. She wanted so desperately to be a mother goat or horse, that she developed swollen teats that lasted for months as in a pseudo-pregnancy. We knew it not to be possible that she was pregnant since Pig Boy's masculinity was altered. That situation resolved itself in time, but she would have loved a family of baby goats. We didn't share that opinion. 

You might be asking yourself, “How do I know all of this? How do I get into the minds of goats and horses?” The answer is simple. I speak their language. Living with these wonderful creatures every day for 25 years, I speak six different animal languages. If I sometimes sound like a jackass, that's why.

If you pass by the farm while the sun is bright on a brisk morning you might see the horses actually lie down and sleep in the sun. They are not sick or dying, just resting just as they do by standing. You will see Peggy lying next to the horses, or face to face with them with a tongue out, in a goat-kissing gesture. She licks their faces, chews their manes and tails, and spends as much time as possible being a little miniature horse that she can. 

Someday she will be gone. Their life expectancy is that of a dog — about 12 years. That is the hard part of farm life, watching them being born, enjoying every lasting minute of their lives, but then to have to watch them die. We will never forget our Peggy. 

So when her time comes, we will have to look to the heavens at night and see Pegasus as Peggy, the little Nigerian Pygmy Goat that in reality thinks she is a horse.