No Kidding

Colleen Kottke
Editor/Wisconsin State Farmer
Billy, our farm's billy goat, was known for his cunning, devious manner.

Years ago when I covered the cops and courts beat, I often started my mornings looking over the police blotters detailing the previous nights' activity.

While perusing through the Dodge County Sheriff dispatch logs one December morning, I was surprised to see an entry about a goat running amok on U.S. 41 near Lomira. Seems the escapee was running near the busy thoroughfare around 2 a.m. causing some motorists to swerve to avoid hitting the animal. What wasn't surprising was that officers were unable to take the ornery critter into custody, claiming it was 'wild'.

Now I am sure they didn't mean the animal was wild in the sense that deer are, but rather that it was uncontrollable. I think the more fitting word was 'wily', 'ornery', 'uncooperative' or just plain 'stubborn'. The other question posed to me by readers was why a goat would be out running on a busy highway at such an unearthly early hour?

Surely it wasn't out trying to do some last minute Christmas shopping. My prediction was that the goat was running away from home and here's why.

Colleen Kottke

When I first married my husband they had a billy goat (named Billy, of course!) that lived on the farm. Originally the goat was sort of a pet for my husband's younger brothers and sister but over time he became the nemesis of my brother-in-law, Steve. This wily creature, complete with goatee (or beard) and horns, would stand patiently in the mangers, munching along with the cows and leaving his droppings to soil the bunk. Infuriated, Steve would pursue the animal into a smaller building where the goat would elude him, using small ledges like a mountain goat to escape his would-be captor.

All the while we could hear Steve weaving a tapestry of obscenities that left the younger kids staring in amazement at their usually mild-manner uncle and the rest of us in stitches laughing as the familiar scene played out once again - with Billy being the obvious winner.

Naturally the kids and womenfolk would plead on the goat's behalf. Glowering, Steve would stalk away vowing revenge on the sure-footed creature.

As Billy got older and grew stronger, he began to pick his shots more carefully. No one seemed immune from this animal's cunning. While bending over and forking up hay, the horned demon would sneak up from behind, lower his head and take aim at the unsuspecting victim.

After I became the butt of his pranks, he lost my vote of confidence. And when a relative found a hobby farmer willing to take the rogue goat in, there was no one left willing to shed a tear.

So maybe the goat running freely on the highway was Billy looking for another family to torment. Or perhaps there was a farmer (no doubt cursing under his breath) hot on the goat's heels and wondering if the meat of an old billy goat was still palatable. And if officers had caught the goat, would anyone show up to claim him? Doubtful.

In all the years we have been married there have been a few cardinal rules in our relationship: medical emergencies involving farm animals supersede all social engagements, it is better to shop alone than with a farmer and no goats. No kidding.