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The Goat (Capra Hircus)

Said to be the first animal to be domesticated by man.

An animal that becomes very attached to its owner. Very independant personalities, very inquisitive and extremely useful. It can provide milk (for cheese and yoghurt), meat (eg.kids), hair, leather and manure. In fact it has been said that almost every part of a goat has its uses.

They can improve scrubland (and prune the hedges) and grazing with sheep can be an ideal way of keeping the pasture sweet. The goat as a pack animal has been renown the world over, from the outback of Russia and the high peaks of Asia and America. Their ability to climb higher than a horse, pony or Yak and feed off the various scrub has meant that hill shepherds use these goats to take their herds to the highest of plateaus for the summer. Carrying the shepherds needs up the mountain and fetching down cheese, skins and carved articles the shepherd may have made during his stay. There is a book on the pack goat from America which gives stories of pack goat trains, carrying valuable geological equipment over glaciers and how one lead goat prevented the whole outfit becoming caught in an avalanche. These goats are not lead but follow each other, they are relieved of their packs at night and roam free to graze, coming back in the morning to be saddled up again.

In England of course the Harness Goat Society which was formed in the early eighties has been running events to show the versatility of the goat, from carrying the shopping, collecting firewood and pulling his weight on the smallholding. Show goat people think it’s awful that we should treat our goats so. Others think we’re barmy. So what! We all love our very lovable harness goats they give us loads of pleasure. They are loyal and lovable and to think that Neolithic man had his goats, long may they continue.

Muriel Brown