Archive for the ‘Goat Fun Facts’ Category

Pasqualina and her favorite treat

Did You Know Goats Have Accents?

Yes, apparently goats have accents according to researchers at Queen Mary University of London.

Read on...

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.

The Origins of “Get Your Goat”

My grandmother was fond of using old-fashioned sayings and proverbs, and as a result, I developed a strong appreciation of them. It’s always fun finding out where a familiar saying came from too, which is why I recently looked into where the phrase “get your goat” came from (for the record, I started the draft of this post in December, way before The Huffington Post talked about this).

As commonly used, “get your goat” means to make someone angry or annoyed, but who on Earth would equate a goat with anger or annoyance? They’re so sweet and gentle! Exhibit A:

Do you see the family resemblance?

Go ahead. Just try one more banana-less day, lady.

As it turns out, there’s no clear consensus on the phrase’s origins, but both proposed explanations I’ve found revolve around the idea that goats were kept with other animals to help keep them calm.

The Phrase Finder concludes that the saying is distinctly American dating back to 1909 and sticks by the “commonly repeated story which purports to explain the phrase’s origin is that goats were placed with racehorses to keep them calm. When ne’er-do-wells who wanted the horse to race badly removed it, i.e. they ‘got someone’s goat’, the horse became unsettled and ran badly.” The site admits, though that there’s no evidence to support this etymological tale.

That said, Ye Olde English Sayings discusses the origins of “getting your goat” with reference to “an old English (Welsh?) belief that keeping a goat in the barn would have a calming effect on the cows, hence producing more milk. When one wanted to antagonize/terrorize one’s enemy, you would abscond with their goat rendering their milk cows less- to non-productive.”

Whether the phrase is English or American, the common thread is “goats as the great calmers of nature.”

*After I published this, my mom reminded me that in The Sopranos episode where Tony has bought the racehorse Pie-O-My, the trainers keep a goat in the pen with her to calm her down before races — it *must* be true if Tony Soprano says so, right?!

Do you buy it? Were goats the original horse whisperers and/or cow whisperers?

Does anyone have experience with the calming nature of goats on their other animals?

Goat Coats and Other Regretsy Fun

My friend Rebecca who runs Brigolante Guest Apartments in Umbria, Italy and also writes a wonderful blog recently sent me a link to this entry on Regretsy:

Pink Leopard Goat Coat

Pink Leopard Goat Coat from Furbabies Boutique on Etsy

Yes, that’s a goat coat made of “Pink Leopard fleece with contrast pink fleece. Fringed edges, velcro closures at neck and tummy.” It’s already been sold, but you can get the pattern if you’d like to make one yourself. Indeed, Furbabies Boutique has quite a few rather adorable sewing and crochet patterns — and not just for animal clothes but also fun socks, which actually make me want to learn to crochet.

Regretsy exists to poke fun at some of the items for sale on Etsy, but in all seriousness, if I lived in a colder climate, I’d put coats on my goats too — I don’t know that I’d go pink leopard fleece, but Clowee the pygmy in the photo really works it! I just don’t know if my girls are *that* into pink.

Now ponchos for chicks? Those I’m not so sure about….

Chicken Poncho on Etsy

Chicken Poncho by Goose on the Loose on Etsy

Do your goats wear coats?

Can you recommend goat coats for other readers who might be in the market (and not looking to sew)?

What Do Goats Have to Do With Valentine’s Day?

Love Park, Philadelphia

Love Park, Philadelphia

What do goats, particularly Italian goats note Pasqualina and Pinta, have to do with Valentine’s Day? So glad you asked!

Valentine’s Day as we know it has its roots in the ancient Pagan festival of Lupercalia, which was held in mid-February in Rome to purify the city, chase away evil, and also increase fertility. The celebration would begin when vestal virgins delivered cakes made from the first ears of grain of the previous year’s harvest to the cave where a She-Wolf had suckled Romulus and Remus, the brothers who (as the story goes) had founded Rome.

At this point, two naked young men proceeded to sacrifice a goat and a dog — notably this is the only Roman festival in which a goat was sacrificed. Then, according to The Pagan Library:

With the bloody knife, their foreheads were smeared with blood, then wiped clean with wool dipped in milk. The young men laughed and girded themselves in the skin of the sacrificed goat. Much feasting followed. Finally, using strips of the goat skin, the young men ran, each leading a group of priests, around the base of the hills of Rome, around the ancient sacred boundary of the old city called the pomarium. During this run, the women of the city would vie for the opportunity to be scourged by the young men as they ran by, some baring their flesh to get the best results of the fertility blessing (you can see why the Christian church tried so hard to get this ritual banned, but it was so popular that it continued for quite some time under the new regime.)

That’s right, folks! In ancient Rome, the goal of this mid-February event was not to see how many boxes of chocolates you’d get, what color roses you’d receive, or whether you’d get the best conversation heart message. Instead, the race was on to get whipped by a goat skin — and the gals weren’t afraid to go Mardi Gras style either (OK, they were probably baring arms and legs and not breasts, but still…).

So, as you can see, goats have a deeply rooted history with this day for lovers — although it isn’t a particularly pleasant one on the part of the goats. For this reason, I ask that you show your goaties a little extra love this Valentine’s Day, and if they happen to ask for smooches, well, I say give ’em what they want.

Valentine's Day kiss from Pasqualina

Valentine's Day kiss from Pasqualina


By the way, if you’d like to honor the role goats have played in Valentine’s Days past, please consider giving the gift of a goat through Heifer International: “The gift of a dairy goat represents a lasting, meaningful way for you to help a little boy or girl on the other side of the world.”

Heifer International: Give a Goat for Valentine's Day

Heifer International: Give a Goat for Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Smooches to all!

P.S. Still want more trivia to impress your family and friends? Find out why the heart is a symbol of love and Valentine’s Day.

Goatlightenment: Can You Shave Goats for Their Hair?

Faithful reader and goat lover, the lovely 8-year-old LuccaBella in Italy has written to me to ask:

Can you shave goats hair? Because lambs you can shave hair & you can make clothes & cotton. Can you do that with goats?

This is an *excellent* question, and something I bet many people don’t know about . . . because cashmere (that oh-so-soft, wonderfully warm sweater and sock material) actually comes for goats. The cashmere goat, in fact.

Yes, cashmere wool comes from the soft, fluffy, fine-haired undercoat of these gorgeous goats:

Cashmere Goats by Paul Esson on Flickr

Cashmere Goats by Paul Esson on Flickr

As many of you probably know, cashmere wool products will keep you super warm and cozy throughout the winter, which is exactly why these goats have their coats. Cashmere goats tend to live in cold, often mountainous climates and begin moulting (losing their hair) in the spring as they’ll no longer need that undercoat to keep warm throughout the summer.

And that’s where cashmere producers come in.

The cashmere from goats may be gathered by combing through or shearing the hair. In order to collect what will become cashmere for clothes and other fabrics, the fine hair of the undercoat must be separated from the coarser hair of the outer coating (called guard hair). The guard hair may be used for brushes and other non-clothing items.


In fact, LuccaBella, you and your Mamma might be interested to learn more about Chianti Cashmere run by American expat Nora Kravis (who has given me great advice on finding goat minerals) — not too far from where you live. Nora offers handwoven products, and her farm prides itself in leaving “no carbon hoofprint” with its Sustainable Cashmere® movement.


Now, if you’re wondering whether Pasqualina and Pinta produce wool for clothes, the answer is no. They just aren’t that type of goat, and in fact, they both have quite fine hair. Here in Calabria, our dairy goats (like Pasqualina) don’t tend to have very thick hair because they don’t need it as temperatures don’t drop below freezing very often in the winter. That said, some of the other breeds of goats around here do have thicker hair (you may remember Carmelina for instance), but even they are not shaved for wool — they just aren’t that kind of goat either.

Two goats sharing a moment

Carmelina (in front) and Pasqualina sharing a moment in July 2009

Thanks so much for the question — I hope my answer helped clear it up!

By the way, for answers to many goat questions, check out The Maaaaa of Pricilla’s excellent “goatucation” series.

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

Baby the Goat in Georgia
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Oman goat
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Testa Dura Goat Cheese
Goat at Maine Fiber Frolic 2011