The Goat Whisperer

Karaoke can be fun - but try being the resident crooner to a pair of farm animals

By Doug Dine

Illustration by Felix Sockwell

Some people talk to plants. Some try to shout a golf putt into the hole. Me? I sing to goats. This is the story of how it all started, very suddenly, a year and a half ago, in a flood in a remote corner of New Mexico.

I’d just completed a 480-mile Craigslist pickup, and was en route home with a precious cargo—two of the most heart-meltingly cute, four-week-old, unweaned goat kids I’d ever seen. Natalie was a pure white gum drop who had immediately taken to nursing from my finger. Melissa was a speckled brown and white, just as pretty, though with a head-butting personality closer to Martina Navratilova. These Chihuahua-sized ruminants were to be the centerpiece of my local living plans.

I’ve always been a whistler, the guy who hums in an elevator or discovers from the look of nearby drivers that he’s singing out loud at a light. So when, on our first drive, we came across an overflowing creek and the little mammals started maniacally bleating, I naturally tried belting out “Homeward Bound,” arching my neck around like an owl so the goats could listen as we braved the raging waters. It was the moment I became, for the first time in my life, a professional musician. That is, someone who sings in order to survive.

Amazingly, my off-key Simon and Garfunkel rendition worked. The goats stared at me like junkies after a fix. They became silent, enraptured. I could swear they were smiling. After about 30 seconds in the soaked creek bed, Natalie, ears half the size of her tiny body, leaned forward and cheered (I think it was a cheer) toward my ear: “Mmmbah.”

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Issue 25

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