Not too many people, other than my indulgent husband and close family members, know about my passion for the domestic goat.
I am referring to those not-very-handsome, bristle-haired creatures who have a penchant for eating poison oak and star thistle. The same wily animals that are sometimes found in well-fenced backyards in certain rural neighborhoods but would never be considered household pets.
At least I don't think so — but if you happen to be aware of a situation where that has occurred, I would welcome hearing from you. I am open to any and all possibilities when it comes to goats.
I'm not sure when the attraction started. I think it may have been when we were visiting in Georgia several decades ago and my sister and her husband and four children had a small contingent of milk goats that visitors were encouraged to help tend. Did you know goats make a bleating sound that sometimes sounds like a baby's cry? Hearing those plaintiff cries and being gently butted on my thigh, repeatedly, was probably the moment I fell in love. If my husband reads this column, it is at this moment that he will roll his eyes and shake his head.
This week we are back in Georgia visiting my sis. Her children are all grown and gone — as are the goats. But my memories are vivid and the affection remains. It surfaced with a surge when I read my 4-year-old grandnephew a book called "Gregory the Terrible Eater." Great book — 1980 copyright but fun grandparent fare. A lot of laughter likely from those pages — and a very happy ending. Gregory was not an average goat. He refused tin cans, bottle caps, pieces of rubber tires, preferring fruits, vegetables and fish. My kind of goat.
Yesterday, at my sister's suggestion, we went on an adventure in search of all things goat. The Georgia clan had replaced their previous herd with a large, four-legged, metal structure with rusted hooves and horns that sat on their deck next to the barbecue. I coveted that smiling, inanimate, stand-up creature and envisioned him guarding the front porch of our new home. Maybe a metal goat with a sweetly pink udder and two baby metal goats standing nearby. Can you see it? Not sure where this will end, but I look forward to finding out.
So ... I just asked my husband to read my written-on-vacation column and help me with the final paragraph. He does not share my goat-directed passions, so I was taking a risk by involving him. He suggested I might be trying to "get" his goat by even writing about them, and he reiterated the unlikelihood that metal goats of any size — with or without udders — would grace our future porch. But he said it lovingly.
It will take some persuading, of course, to give those handsome metal goats a home with us, but I'm optimistic. As I get older, I get increasingly better at happy endings.
Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University associate professor emeritus. Reach her at Sharon@hmj.com.