Government business pauses for a moment of goat-herding

April 22, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

Ah, spring, when a young goat's fancy -- and it was a young goat -- lightly leaps the fetters of fences.

Spring beckoned County Commissioner Julia Gouge's goats yesterday.

Which caused a temporary hiatus in the business of county government.

Commissioner Gouge's two colleagues refused to continue a discussion on whether to raise the tipping fee at the local landfill without her. But Mrs. Gouge was at her farmette near Hampstead, bucking nature by trying to separate boy goats from girl goats.

The 24 pygmy black goats escaped overnight, probably by rubbing their backs against the electric fence to remove their winter coats, Mrs. Gouge said. The fence shorted out and the goats tested the theory that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

"This morning, they saw me coming and they knew they weren't supposed to be outside," Mrs. Gouge said.

"The little ones squeezed under the fence and the big ones jumped back over. They were standing there looking innocent."

That ended the roundup, but Mrs. Gouge still had to prevent a repeat performance. She decided to put the males in the barn and leave the less-adventurous females outside, with temporary barriers to keep them in the fenced area.

"That's not easy, trying to separate the boys and the girls," she said, a truism familiar to anyone who has ever chaperoned anything involving teen-agers.

Mrs. Gouge estimated that it took her 40 minutes to segregate the goats and clean up for work.

The commissioner acquired her first goat six years ago, after she and her family spent time clearing brush at their new home and she joked, "I need a goat." She got one goat, then another of the opposite sex, and the goats took it from there. Now, there are 24.

Despite her husband Jesse's suggestions that the family may be reaching the saturation point, Mrs. Gouge said she hasn't been able to part with any of them.

Most of the goats have names, she said. Continuing the family tradition of names beginning with the letter "J," the goats include Jessica, Joshua, Jake, Jeffrey, Joanna and Jody.

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