Archive for 2011

Update on Benny the Goat in Berlin, Connecticut

Benny and his slide

Benny and his slide

Two weeks ago, I shared the story of Benny, Sheri Sala’s Nigerian Dwarf goat whose home with his family is being threatened by the Zoning Board of Berlin, Connecticut. Since we last spoke, Benny has acquired over 180 fans on Facebook, but he could always use more, so if you haven’t clicked over yet: Berlin CT: Let Sheri Sala Keep Benny the Goat.

Can we get to 200 fans before the board meeting on April 26th?!*

Since I know not all of you do Facebook, though, I’m also going to post here an email/letter I wrote that can be copied and sent to the Zoning Board on behalf of Sheri and Benny. You’re also welcome to write your own thoughts, of course, but in any event, please send emails to hriggins[at] or letters to: Hellyn R. Riggins, AICP, Director of Development Services, Berlin Town Hall, 240 Kensington Rd, Berlin, CT 06037.

* * *

Dear Ms Riggins and Berlin Zoning Board of Appeals:

I am writing to express support for Sheri Sala in her fight to keep her Nigerian dwarf goat, Benny, who has lived with her family for the past five years after she raised him with a bottle. I urge you to grant Sheri’s variance request as the zoning ordinance in place is misguided and outdated, and Benny’s health depends on his being able to stay in the only home he’s ever known.

First, requiring three acres to keep a goat, let alone a Nigerian dwarf goat, is beyond excessive. Male Nigerian dwarf goats are generally 19″ to 23″ tall and weigh approximately 75 lbs. — much smaller than many dogs.

According to the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association (NDGA) regarding these goats: “Their small stature means they do not require as much space or feed as their larger dairy goat counterparts and their gentle and friendly personalities make them good companion pets.” More specifically regarding housing, Dwarf Goats and More provides the following standards:

Since they are about the size of a large dog when fully grown, you can house a Nigerian Dwarf in a large doghouse and a small pen will do, if you take them out for daily exercise in the back yard, and feed them hay and goat ration. If you want to have a larger pen with grass as a miniature pasture, then a minimum of eighteen hundred square feet is required, (about 20 feet by 90 feet). Actually, a pen of about 60 feet by one 121 feet is preferred for each Nigerian Dwarf.

The Wolverton Family Farm notes that the NDGA has stated that “each goat requires approximately 200 sq/ft of space for exercise.”

Accordingly, a Nigerian Dwarf goat does not need anywhere near three acres for any reason, making this zoning ordinance completely out of line with the reality of what it takes to properly raise such a goat.

Moreover, miniature goats are increasingly being kept as family pets (including by Hollywood stars) and have obtained a status similar to that of a dog in many households across the country — just as Benny has alongside his companion and friend, a Pomeranian. Benny has become part of Sheri’s family, and there is simply no good to be had by removing him. No one has complained about Benny in five years, and he is neutered, de-horned, and vaccinated. He poses no threat or danger to the community. He is a family pet, plain and simple.

Even more importantly, Benny’s health depends on his being able to stay with his family. He has been well-taken care of for five years and is perfectly happy and healthy with Sheri and his best friend, the family dog. Goats are herd animals and prefer company, and Benny has found this in the only home he’s ever known. There is no telling what kinds of psychological and physical ailments that could befall Benny if he were to be removed from his home at this point — and as the zoning ordinance is both misguided and outdated, there is no reason to find out.

I also direct your attention to a Facebook group that has grown to include more than 300 people, including residents of Berlin as well as people from around the world, supporting Sheri in this matter.

Please let Benny stay with Sheri — and reconsider your zoning ordinance requiring three acres to keep a goat as well.



* * *

If you plan on showing your support for Sheri, please do it soon — Sheri’s hearing is April 26th and the Board is gathering all of the supportive emails and letters in its information packet leading up to the meeting. Thanks so much to all who have been supporting Sheri and Benny!

*UPDATE: Benny is up to over 300 fans as of April 24th — yay!

You’re maaaaaarvelous!

GoatSpotting: Etruscan Goats!

Mary Jane Cryan is an American-Irish writer who lives in the part of central Italy that used to be known as Etruria. She also happens to enjoy goaties and passed along these adorable photos of Mini-Himalayans living in up Etruscan-style:

La dolce vita della capra

La dolce vita della capra

WHAT? The Romans have taken over? MAAAADNESS!

WHAT? The Romans have taken over? MAAAADNESS!

If you’d like to learn more about Mary Jane and the mysterious Etruscan civilization, you can check out her book Eturia – travel, history and itineraries in central Italy, website Elegant Etruria, blog 50 Years in Italy, and Facebook group Elegant Etruria Friends — and for some multimedia fun, be sure to download our recent Eye on Italy podcast: Exploring Eturia with Mary Jane Cryan.

Remember, if you see a goat out and about, snap a photo and send it in to GoatSpotting!

Berlin CT: Let Sheri Sala Keep Benny the Goat!

Benny the Goat in Berlin, CT

Benny the Goat in Berlin, CT

I like to keep an eye on fun and interesting goat tales, which is how I end up sharing items like Tori Spelling’s pygmy and the goat symphony video.

But the other day I came across a disturbing story out of Berlin, Connecticut about Benny the Nigerian Dwarf goat. I knew I had to do more than send out a tweet about it or post the article on Facebook.

Here’s the deal:

Sheri Sala has kept Benny the goat since bottle-feeding him as a three-week old kid. Benny is a Nigerian Dwarf goat, neutered, de-horned and vaccinated, and lives beside his best animal friend, a Pomeranian.

Benny is a pet, plain and simple.

But officials in Berlin are taking a hard line on zoning laws that require three acres of land in order to keep a goat (Sheri has a quarter of an acre). The zoning laws also apply to rabbits, chickens, and other animals commonly kept, so there’s no telling where town officials will stop.

At this point, Sheri has filed a request for a variance to keep Benny, but she can use your help leading up to the hearing on APRIL 26.

I can’t imagine the stress Sheri is facing, so I looked her up on Facebook and offered to set up a page in support of her and Benny. Here it is:

Berlin CT: Let Sheri Sala Keep Benny the Goat

I ask that if you support Sheri and Benny that you “like” the page and spread the word around among your goatie friends. For more ideas on what you can do to help, please go to the “info” tab on the Facebook page.

If Benny were in a bad situation, that would be one thing, but Benny is in a loving home with plenty of room — a quarter of an acre is certainly plenty for a dwarf goat– so let’s help keep Benny in the only home he’s ever known.

Thank you, Goat Berries readers!

Tori Spelling Doing Her Little Turn on the Goat Walk (Yeah)

A few weeks ago on the Goat Berries Facebook page, I posted this photo of Tori Spelling and her son Liam walking their pet goat in Los Angeles and noted that this is *exactly* what I wear when I’m out with the girls. Ahem.

Tori Spelling and pet goat

©Startraks Photo/Rex Features

I wasn’t going to even mention Tori and her goat here, but then this morning I saw some more news regarding Tori and Juliet (the goat) attending an event for The Fabulous Beekman Boys.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love that goats are becoming more appreciated because of some high-profile caretakers, but I also hope the romanticism of owning a goat doesn’t become confounded with the hard work it entails and just how much you need to know about these animals to take proper care of them. And by the way, as loyal Goat Berries readers know, you shouldn’t just take *one* in. Goat 101 tells us that goats like to live at least in pairs.

I’m a little afraid that some well-intentioned goat-loving people will see the cuteness (and let’s be honest, the cuteness factor of pygmy goats in particular is off the charts) and step into Easter Chick Syndrome, whereby people gift adorable little chicks to their kids, erm children, but don’t think much beyond what happens when the chick grows beyond fuzzy cuteness — if the chick gets that far, assuming the parents have done research on how to take care of the little one.

Anyway, hopefully my fears are unfounded, but it was just a little something I was thinking about this morning, which in turn reminded me of some photos I took of P walking Pasqualina and our ex-goat Margherita back when they were kids.

I could be biased, but Tori and Juliet have got *nothing* on P and the girls:

Just a boy and his goats

Just a boy and his goats

Daddy and the girls

Daddy and the girls

Buon weekend!

P.S. The title is a reference to Right Said Fred’s classic I’m Too Sexy — yes, I know you didn’t miss the reference, but I couldn’t miss the chance to include a link so you, too, could shake your little tush.

Goat Hair Shedding Time of Year

Last week I noticed that Pasqualina was beginning to have fuzzies on her neck. At first I thought she just had some pieces from the hay stuck in her fur (it’s been known to happen), but as I looked closer, I realized it was her soft, winter undercoat going bye-bye for the spring.

Goat shedding time

Goat shedding time

I don’t know if we were so occupied with goat birth last year at this time that I just didn’t notice, but Pasqualina definitely had some major goat hair shedding this year — which gave me a great excuse to get in there and give her a good brushing. I got several full brushes worth of undercoat, which I set free in the Sunday breeze; too bad I don’t know how to spin wool, right?

It was obvious that Pinta also has some shedding once I got to brushing her, but it wasn’t anywhere near as clumpy as Pasqualina’s; they definitely do have different types of hair — Pinta takes after her father — but I’m wondering now whether maybe the first year, their undercoats just aren’t as thick, and Pinta’s will be heavier next winter?

Look maaaa, all better!

Look maaaa, all better!

Always learning as a goat ma, that’s for sure.

The birthday goat!

Another Goat Birthday, Another Banana

A year ago, we were welcoming Pinta into the world — you can read about it in great detail at her birth story.

Here’s a look at her at about two weeks old:

She's a dance, dance, dancin' machine

She's a dance, dance, dancin' machine

And here she is now:

Oh my how you've grown!

Oh my how you've grown!

Yes, that’s her little heart still visible on her side!

Yesterday, Pinters celebrated one year on the planet with her caprine ma, her human ma, and a banana:

The birthday banana

The birthday banana

Oh, and lots and lots of petties.

The birthday goat!

The birthday goat!

Auguri Pintaruccia!

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Goats that readers have spotted out and about. Send your photos to michelle(at)goatberries(dot)com! 

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Goat at Maine Fiber Frolic 2011