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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.