#29: Buying a goat

Posted by Megan on November 23rd, 2011

One of my many goat friends.


I have strange affection towards goats. I can’t explain it. Ever since I was young I have been enthralled in their simple lives. They just stroll around, eating grass, curiously exploring their surroundings. It sounds like a pretty nice life. Goats have always been my favorite animal. When asked to pick our favorite animals in elementary school my friends always choose

When this is your dog, you can’t love any animal more.

exciting animals like tigers and elephants. I chose goats and they remain my one of my favorites to this day. (They are second only to the Chili Dog).  I always thought farmers just kept goats around because they had nice personalities. It wasn’t until I was adult that I learned that goats are milked. Side note: Have you ever had the honey goat cheese from Trader Joes. It’s AMAZING!

Every year my family would visit the Kiddie Barn at the County Fair, and every year I would bolt towards my goat friends to pet them and hug them and pretend they were my personal pets.

I met this goat when I was 18 and I begged my parents to let me adopt him.


Childhood obsessions often fade as we age. I don’t know many adults who are still obsessed with dinosaurs or Power Rangers. Ok – let me rephrase: I don’t know any NORMAL adults who are obsessed with dinosaurs or Power Rangers. We often gain more mature passions like Fantasy Football or Twilight.

I’ve stuck with the goats.

Brad and I are members of the Minnesota Zoo and every time we visit I insist on trekking all the way to the Family Farm section of the zoo so I can feed the goats. Each spring there are baby goats at the zoo during their Farm Baby event and I have been known to visit the zoo alone just to get a glimpse of the little hooved kids. 

My sister gave me this stuffed baby goat when a few years ago for Christmas. I was stocked! It was one of the best, most thoughtful gifts ever.


Goats bring me joy. I don’t know why, they just do.

A few years ago I learned about the non-profit organization Heifer International. They distributes farm animals, education and training and other services to underprivileged people in Africa. I found out that you could donate a goat (or other farm animal) to a desperately in-need family for only a few hundred dollars. I was hooked! I was beyond excited to be (albeit far removed) goat owner. Unfortunately, upon further investigation, I found out that the $200 goat you donated could very well be $200 in education classes, or $200 in administrative costs. The money you donated to buy a “goat” could be used by the organization however they see fit. While I’ve heard Heifer International is a wonderful organization, and I would never discourage anyone from making a charitable donation to them, it just wasn’t the right fit for me. I wanted a real live goat to be alive and helping someone because I made it happen.

I was randomly talking to a group of my work friends about my love for goats and my disappointment with my inability to send a goat to Africa when my friend Mike chimed in. “I might be able to help!” he said.

We’re all friends here. I didn’t know where Tanzania was located either, so here’s a map.

 Mike had visited Tanzaniaa few years back on a mission trip, and he was set to return.. He said he would look for a family in need and see if we could make my goat dream a reality. When Mike returned, he shared photos and stories of his trip. His photos revealed a culture I have never witnessed. I can’t fathom what the life of someone in a remote African village would be like. They have so much less; they must work so much harder; life is a struggle – yet shining smiles erupted in every photo.

This lovely family received the goats I donated.


My friends Mike and Maren visited Tanzania earlier this year. They helped me fulfill a lifelong dream to buy a goat!


With Mike’s help I was able to give a young couple a gift that could very well change the trajectory of their lives. The two female goats will offer milk, and with a male goat nearby, they will be able to breed more goats.

I finally have the pet goats I’ve been longing for my whole life. They just happen to be a few thousands miles away. Now every time I visit a petting zoo I will be reminded of the gift I was able to give some strangers a world away.

These are Megan and Joanie’s new friends. (I ceremoniously named the goats after me and my mom).

  • © 2011 Megan Steil