2005, a pack of dogs killed all but one of Selina's goats. The dogs
weren't hungry; they didn't eat what they killed. They even killed
other dogs. The really tragic part is they belonged to people who
didn't care enough about them to take proper care of them and
eventually; the dogs were hunted down and killed. But not before they'd
killed over a dozen goats, chickens and pigs.
Although this story has a sad start, I promise the adventure itself is funny. Yeah, we can all look back on it and laugh.
the editor and publisher of Yard Dog Press, raises goats to have and to
sell milk and cheese. So they like Nubian goats, which are good
milkers. She also loves her goats and so the loss devastated her.
this story is really more of a testament to how loved Selina is by her
friends than it is about me. I was just the instigator. In that
respect, this will be a sort of "I Love Lucy" escapade, except there
are three dizzy redheads involved in the scheme. Once I had the idea of
re-goating Selina, I enlisted the aid of two of my fellow
redheads--Julia S. Mandala and Dusty Rainbolt.
Pre-Planing the Trip
first, we three thought to visit local Dallas-area farms to pick out
adult goats. Then we considered the fact that goats are livestock and
not "the family pet" making us wonder if there were laws about
transporting goats across state lines, as Selina lives in Arkansas. Not
really sure what we should get, I e-mailed Lynn and asked her what we
should look into buying. Lynn said to buy baby goats, because if they
are hand-reared they would easier to milk later on. And it would give
Selina a chance to bond with them. So we changed our strategy. And we
decided to find goats in Arkansas.
So Dusty made all the
arrangements for getting us large crates and her husbands van for the
trip while I began the many month-long secret process of collecting
donations and communicating with goat breeders in Arkansas. Knowing
Selina would have to breed the goats so they'd get pregnant in order to
produce milk, I wanted every goat to have different bloodlines. So I
ended up dealing with two different breeders, planning to get two goats
apiece, each to have different parent-goats. Lynn had said that three
does and one buck would be all Selina could handle. Lynn also told us
what breed of goat to buy. Until then, we'd figured goats were goats
and all goat milk was essentially the same. We learned differently.
certain the breeders thought I was nuts, as my criteria for buying the
goats included--being a good milker and we were looking for certain
colors, as Lynn had told us Selina liked the spotted ones and she liked
the brown and red ones. Plus, Selina wanted them to keep their horns,
which was, apparently, an unusual request. When we had started the
project, there were no baby goats available, only pregnant goats. So I
had a couple of breeders keep me posted on when their goats were
expected to deliver. Regularly, birth notices came my way, saying who
had a doe or a buck. And when there was one just right for Selina, we
essentially made an e-mail agreement that on a specific day, we would
drive up and pay for the goat.
In the meanwhile, all sorts of
donations were coming in via paypal and from checks in the mail. We
received a lot more than we needed. I began to e-mail some of Selina's
good friends who had said they wanted to donate and would be able to
when they received a paycheck to say they didn't need to. They could
just send a card. We had all the cash we needed. Yet every one of her
friends still wanted to donate to the cause even when funds were
strapped for them. See--this is really about how much people appreciate
all that Selina has done for them.
The Adventure Begins
we called this our secret "Operation: Re-Goat," the Great Goat
Adventure could as well be called "Bubba and 3 Redheads Go on a Road
Trip." Surely Lucille Ball would be proud of us. (The "bubba" would be
my husband, Chris, who surely deserves some good karma or award for
being our driver on this escapade.)
Before the trip, we made
every preparation. I printed out maps for every leg of the
journey--starting with a map from Julia Mandala's house to Dusty
Rainbolt's house as we hadn't been there. Then I had a map with the
route from Dusty's house to the Hoyt Farms in De Queen, Arkansas. The
next map went from De Queen to the Wagner Farm in Pine Bluff. Then, we
traveled from Pine Bluff to Selina's house. In all, the estimated
driving time was right around 11 hours. That didn't account for
stopping to eat, take a break, or buy goats. Nor did it account for
rain. As it turned out, it didn't account for the fact that not a
single map was right!
Knowing we had a full day of driving,
Chris and I arrived at Juli's house about 6:05 am. She had everything
ready in the garage. We backed up and loaded quick in the rain.
Juli brought the big cooler for the milk (as baby goats would need
milk) and a really, really big pillow. If you get the chance to talk to
Juli at a convention, ask her for the story of "Big Green Pillow". We
needed the pillow because Dusty's van, a cargo van, only had 2 seats.
did pretty good until we got lost trying to find Dusty's place. The map
insisted 2 streets intersected that didn't. Eventually, we called Dusty
to get new directions. By the time we finally arrived, we were already
off our schedule. Still, we hit the road a little after 7 am. And
it was raining there too. It rained for almost the entire trip--letting
up only when we were nearly at Selina's place. At that time, this area
of Texas and Arkansas had suffered a severe drought for months.
And the one day we get a good, long, soaking rain is the day we're
planning to surprise Selina with goats for her birthday. I like to
think the rain was an extra gift from Heaven, because getting rain was
a very good thing.
We left Dusty's house and we're on the
road, using those apparently cursed maps in conjunction with Dusty's
road atlas. Remember, her van had 2 seats. So Chris drove and Juli
navigated. Meanwhile, Dusty and I sat, lounged, and reclined on big
green pillow. We had luggage and the cooler between us, not to mention
a big wire cage (or crate) that Dusty had gotten from a dog rescue
group. We used extra pillows (as we were planning on spending the night
at Selina's) propped against the luggage and all the other stuff to
give us a complete "pillow surround" ride. I think we had the best
seats--especially after we picked up the goats, because I could pet
their noses through the wire.
As we neared De Queen, we were,
naturally, getting excited. Until we realized this map was no
better than the one to Dusty's place. We wove through backcountry roads
in the rain, hoping we didn't get stuck. The roads went up and down
hill, twisting, and weren't paved. After some wrong turns and missed
streets, we sort of spiraled our way toward the farm. Astoundingly, we
arrived about the time I had estimated in e-mails to Barbie.
Hoyt and her family were very nice and friendly. Their farm is lovely
and they keep all sorts of animals besides goats. It was easy to tell
they loved their goats--which was one of the reasons I'd picked them.
Anyway, the rain decided to pour down by the bucket-full about now . .
Remember I said we were "prepared"? We had the
crate. We had maps. Juli made Selina's birthday cake. We had everyone's
cards, the cash for buying goats and then some. We had everything we
needed. Yet none of us brought an umbrella or raincoat. And yes, it WAS
raining at all our houses while we loaded the van---in the rain. So,
now the bubba and 3 redheads reference is probably starting to make
sense as a "title" to this little novella-adventure.
sloshed across the Hoyt's back yard. The family was fixing eggs, having
a late breakfast. They even invited us to join them. Like I said,
nice people. Barbie got suited up in an oversized pair of overalls with
mud boots. If she had big gloves and one of those netting hats, she'd
have looked like a beekeeper. After feeding their boys (teenagers), her
husband suits up in a rain slicker and hat, making him look kinda like
the Gordon Fisherman man-but in black instead of yellow. He later
joined us in the barn. As we sloshed across the field, their dogs ran
alongside us, excited and enjoying the rain.
The barn was big
and filled with all sort of goats, including adorable Pygmy goat
babies. If they hadn't all been pre-sold, Dusty would have bought a
Pygmy goat for herself. Anyway, Juli shot some footage with her digital
video camera so we could show Selina her 4th goat, a baby buck that
Barbie wanted to stay with his mom. He was the mom-goat's first baby
and she didn't want to separate them so soon. In the original plan (as
nothing went entirely to plan), we'd figured to the buck here, along
with the doe (which Selina later named Linda). Since Barbie wanted the
buck to stay with his mom for 3 months, she wasn't going to charge
extra for that. Lynn knew about the arrangement and said that'd be
fine, as it's really the does that needed to bond with Selina so they
be easier to milk when they were older. We paid for both babies, but
only took Linda-goat with us. The transaction lasted about an
hour--longer than we'd intended, but there was a lot of
paperwork. See, these aren't just good milkers, they're pedigree
goats. On the papers, we put Selina's name as the owner/purchaser and
put her address and phone number.
goat Melody had delivered twin does-both of them absolutely gorgeous.
However, Melody belonged to their daughter-who wasn't home at the time,
and who wasn't sure she wanted to sell one of them. She thought she
might, but didn't know which one. Anyway, we wanted to get one of those
does-but couldn't. The reason we wanted another doe was that at
the next farm, there was only one doe waiting--and we had really wanted
to surprise Selina with three does instead of two--and, of course, the
one buck on "hold" at the Hoyt farm.
We carried Linda-goat in a
carrier to the van, so she wouldn't get wet. We, however, were soaking
wet. Barbie gave us some hay for the crate bottom, and we were on our
way. Linda-goat was a sweet, quiet passenger. For the first couple of
minutes, she stood at the back of the crate where she'd gotten in. But
with a little coaxing, she came to the front corner and sat beside me
where I petted her head and talked to her.
It was after 1 pm
by the time we got back on the road. Feeling hungry, we searched for
food. At the interstate, we stopped at Taco Bell. While it would've
been nice to find a sit-down restaurant, dry out and have a really
satisfying meal, we opted for faster service because we hated leaving
the baby alone. And we had a good 7 hours on the road ahead of us,
including one more goat-stop.
To update what was going on at
Selina's house (this being info I later learned, but for the sake of
time-continuity, I'll relay it here), people were arriving for a
surprise birthday party. Bill Allen, a great guy who's Selina's brother
in spirit, if not in blood, drove down in the rain, playing dumb.
"What, there's a party? Well sure I'll stick around." (Right-he knew
all about it...as did everyone else there) While there was no cake (as
Juli had made the carrot cake) there was a wonderful dinner spread.
on the road, we head for Pine Bluff. When we got lost-again, we started
to lose all confidence in the maps. We stopped for fuel and asked
directions to the Wagner farm hoping someone might know. While we
stopped, Lynn had called for an update on our location and progress. We
told her we were running behind between getting lost multiple times and
the rain, but that we were on the way to pick up the second doe.
At least we'd have two babies and one pre-paid and Selina would have
plenty of money to buy another goat and anything else the babies needed.
I had Lynn on the phone, I ran our computer-generated directions past
her. Partway though, Lynn says, "That's bullshit. Let me give you the
directions. So, Juli, our navigator, jotted down the changes
directions. We were feeling pretty good then--thinking at least 1 leg
would be trouble free.
The guy at the station knew exactly
what farm we were looking for. Turns out, this leg of the map was
right. However, it would have helped matters if mapquest had warned us
that in the back woods of Arkansas the residents don't care if you can
find the streets. Streets do not have a uniform marking system that
we've determined. Some had the classic colored metal signs in an X form
atop a pole. The street we missed didn't. It had a skinny white picket
stuck in the ground with the street name stenciled down the side. We
almost missed it a second time.
We found Barbara (yeah-what a
coincidence about the names, eh?) at their pet store. They have a farm
and a pet store that even had chinchillas! That's where I was tempted
to come home with another critter to add to the menagerie. This
adventure happened before we had sugar gliders.
Barbara was also
very nice. When we pulled up, she waved and seeing Juli asked, "Are you
Linda?" She showed us the lovely doe, that Selina later named
Julia-goat. Little Julia-goat shared a pen with a small newborn
baby buck. Newborn as in he'd been born just the day before our trip.
He was Cassie's baby. Barbara called him a surprise and asked if we
wanted him too. I had been waiting to hear of Cassie's state-as I knew
she was due the 27th. But I hadn't heard before we left, so I'd thought
she hadn't delivered. But he was a buck and we'd already gotten a buck
back at Hoyt Farms. This little guy was really cute and very, very
spotted with some of every goat color in him. We knew Selina would love
him--but she and Lynn only needed one buck. So, what to do?
told Barbara I wasn't sure. Then she offered me a real sweet deal--take
them both and get the buck for half-price. So I called Lynn. She said,
get him. They'd worry about having an extra buck later. We were really
glad Lynn said this because as soon as Julia-goat was removed from the
pen, the poor little buck, who Selina later named Dusty, started crying
and crying. I was inside with Barbara, but Dusty's crying really made
Chris and Juli sad. But who knew you could sell a baby goat that
was barely one day old? You think the mom-goat was looking around,
thinking, "I was sure I had a baby somewhere…dang but they sure do
wander off young."
We loaded the other two goats and bought 8
gallons of milk (1 fresh and 7 frozen) to add to the 2 (1 fresh, 1
frozen) Barbie at Hoyt gave us. As we packed these into the cooler, we
packed some of Chris's homemade beer between the gallons so they'd be
cold for the party.
we headed toward Selina's. The sun was going down and we were on the
road with 3 goats with and another paid for. In all, it was a
good day's shopping trip--and we were glad to have three (instead of
two) goats to actually bring to the party. And as we headed
north, the rain let up, which meant the goats wouldn't get wet when we
got out of the van. (We were so wet it'd be two days to dry out.) Since
Dusty and I were sitting on Juli's big green throw pillow, we had to
take our shoes off every time we climbed into the van.
road, Lynn called, checking on our progress. We were about 90 minutes
away and feeling pretty confidant. At the party, Selina wondered why
everyone was still there. And why her birthday party had no cake.
Later, Selina told me her father had never stopped by to eat then
stayed for so long. He normally ate and ran, was how she put it.
Yet everyone hung around and Selina couldn't figure out why.
She's real hard to surprise, but we all managed it.
last, we reached the Alma exit. We were home free-or so we thought. A
fog had settled in over this area. While I love fog--it's very
pretty--it made it hard to see country roads and signs and such. (It's
the "such" that got us.) Juli had Lynn's directions and we found the S
curve Lynn warned us about. Then we saw Cedar Road. The sign was on a
road forking to the right--not the left as Lynn had told us. (Important
note here: Lynn had told us correctly.) Our navigator thinks that maybe
Lynn had gotten right & left mixed up or was thinking about
approaching her street from the other direction. So we turned right.
Naturally, the road was a dead end and not the right direction. Meaning
we had to turn around. Why should this leg of the journey be any
Chris pulled into a driveway to back out and
go back the way we came. Unfortunately, while the right side of the
road had a slightly lower shoulder, the far side had a ditch. Yep.
Between the night, the fog, the hard to see out the back van, and
unfamiliarity with the road, not to mention slick mud, the back end
tipped into a ditch. We were stuck and the mud wasn't letting us go
I called Lynn, saying we hit another snag. She said
she'd send someone out. Meanwhile, Juli and Chris think they can push
if Dusty drives. Okay--that didn't work. Maybe if the ground had been
dry, we could have gotten out. We're positively stuck.
minute after we'd been there, a car came down the road. It was a cop
car. Then another car came up the backside where we were blocking half
the road. For a short, dead end strip, this road suddenly became grand
central station. Luckily, the vast amount of unexpected traffic could
get by because, as I'd mentioned, the other side of the road wasn't a
horrible ditch. The cop called a tow truck for us then flagged traffic
through while we were stuck. He noticed we had Texas plates and saw the
edge of the crate inside the van. He asked if we had animals. (Now that
I think of it, he might have first thought we were dumping dogs; while
talking to him, he said city people come out here all the time and did
that. Horrible, isn't it?) We told him we were bringing baby goats to a
friend for a birthday gift. He knew Selina and asked if we knew how to
get to her place. He even took a look at the goats and said, "Oh yeah,
she's gonna love these."
the while the officer flagged traffic through we thought every car was
someone from Selina's party. One of the many cars on parade stopped
offered to come back with his truck and a chain to haul us out. He told
the police officer to call off the tow truck, thus saving us money. So
while our journey was fraught with troubles of one sort or another,
everyone we dealt with was really nice. About the time that
fellow came back with his truck, Lynn, Bill and Meyers (Selina's son)
came out to help. We got the van out without any damage. So disaster
averted there. Just to be safe, even though we had a car to follow,
Bill rode back with us.
Back at the party, Selina wondered
where Bill and Meyers had gotten off to. Someone tells her they're on
the porch drinking beer. Selina says she'll join them--to which there's
a resounding "Noooo!" 'Cause the jig would've been up. Later, Selina
told me she had figured they were putting together a surprise for her
birthday--that they were building her a bicycle or something. She
followed that thought with: She was too old for a bicycle. Then she
promptly forgot about the missing guys and went back to entertaining
her guests--who still weren't leaving.
We finally reach our
destination. Lynn has Juli, Dusty and I each carry in a goat. We
redheads are lined up with the boys bringing in the cake and the cooler
with the milk behind us. Lynn has a camera ready and we go in to
Selina's first words on seeing us is, "I
can't believe you idiots"--or another of Selina's terms of
endearment--"came all the way from Texas for my birthday party."
THEN she noticed we were carrying goats as we dumped them in her
lap. (Bill Allen got the really nice photo of Selina smiling so
big.) While holding her new babies, Selina's next words were,
"What am I going to feed them?" That was right on cue when the boys
came in with the cooler and ten gallons of goat milk.
Selina gave us a bit of teasing for getting her pedigreed goats,
complete with paperwork. But after seeing them, she decided Meyers
"common" bucks couldn't impregnate her pedigreed girls. <laugh>
We were just glad that the family thought we'd picked out some really
good goats since we didn't have a clue about goat shopping.
getting her birthday present, nobody else mattered. Selina took to
mothering those baby goats. She first put the goats in the
aviary/solarium and got a bottle started. Tad (Selina's sister)
and I went down into the aviary/solarium with Selina. While Selina
tried to feed little spotted Dusty, Julia-goat, the biggest of the
bunch, climbed all over Selina making all sorts of noise. I told Selina
that doe would be trouble and she might as well name her that. That was
when Selina says-oh no and proceeded to name them after us. She
said the spotted buck would be Dusty because her name can be for a boy
or girl, and that the climber/troublemaker would be Julia and the other
doe (my personal favorite) was going to be Linda.
starting leaving we helped Selina set up the milking station barn for
the baby goats. There's a gap under the platform so Selina got some
boards to cover it. She hung a lamplight for a little extra warmth,
although fortunately, it wasn't that cold--but it could turn cold, as
this was the end of January. We got what hay was in the back of the van
and spread out for the babies while Selina and Lynn set up a baby
monitor so they could heard the goats from inside the house. Of course,
all the while, Selina kept saying we were crazy. But I never saw Selina
so bouncy happy and that made it all worthwhile. Besides, it was a
blast--every part of it.
next day was sunny and pretty and Selina let the babies outside for a
short time. But it wasn't until a later visit, after Selina had all
four goats thatJuli (the person) got some pictures of me playing with
the goats (which you saw earlier in this document). I took some
pictures of Selina with her new babies that first night. Wanting goats,
Selina had gotten Rudy (a polled (hornless) goat from Tad; Sadie was
the only goat to have survived the dog attacks, but, according to
Selina, Sadie was insane--and that skittish behavior probably saved her
Selina made us a wonderful breakfast with farm fresh
eggs and we got the grand "E-ticket" tour of the place. Selina showed
us around outside and Lynn took us on the inside tour. Juli put all
this on digital video too--so we have quite a memento video of the
event "Operation Re-Goat." After getting home, Juli put the event
on DVD and I made case covers and we mailed that to them as well.
months afterward, people kept sending donations, which I gathered and
gave to Selina at the various conventions I saw her at. So the goats
had a nice fund to cover their needs. As rambunctious as Julia-goat is,
Selina may need to set aside a special fund called the: Money to fix
the stuff Julia broke.
About the 4th goat--the pre-paid
buck…Lynn phoned (and left a message) and sent an e-mail to Barbie at
Hoyt explaining the situation, asking if they could trade the buck for
a doe. As I said, Barbie is a nice lady. She said that'd be fine. I
learned this after we got home that Sunday night. Lynn made us all call
so say we got home safe. At that time, Lynn said she'd gotten in touch
with Barbie and that doing a trade was fine. If I understood
correctly--it was late and my mind was getting tired-Lynn and Selina
were possibly heading that way within the coming week to pick out a doe.
trickiest part of the entire adventure was getting Selina to take the
extra cash. Selina has always been the kind of woman who takes care of
herself without charity. Explaining a birthday gift wasn't charity
wasn't easy. In the end, we said not to think of it as money but as a
fence or whatever else the goats needed. It was simply easier for
Selina to get the right thing than for us to buy the wrong thing. I
think all the cards that people had sent along helped too. That and
reminding Selina that these baby goats would come with expenses…vet
bill, they needed a new fence, hay and grain and vitamins, just to
start, helped too. Selina got real excited about some of the
things she's always wanted to build for her goats and could now do with
the slush fund.
All this happened at the end of January. So
there was some cold weather still ahead. And when a cold snap hit,
those babies were set up all cozy in the bathroom. Yeah, they had it
After about a month, Selina and Lynn picked up their
fourth baby, a doe from Barb at Hoyt Farms. Selina really enjoyed
looking over their still pregnant stock and tracking them for the birth
of another doe. The new doe was named ELE--for Elizabeth Moon, Laura
Underwood and Esther Freisner--all good friends of Selina's, all
Selina's Follow-Up E-mail
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 09:23:52 -0600
From: "Selina Rosen"
most if not all of you know -this weekend was pretty exciting and busy
for me which kept me from answering my e-mail. First just let me say
that you're all a bunch of nut jobs and I love you all.
got back from the barn where I feed Julia, Linda and Dusty their
bottles. Since they instigated the whole ,"Operation Re-goat," I
thought they should be honored.
The truth is that I was completely
blown away, which is a big event in itself because it has become a big
joke to say they are celebrating my surprise birthday because until
now, no one has ever been able to surprise me because I always figure
out what's going on and then they can tell I'm faking it, because I'm a
When in the middle of my "surprise" birthday I
looked up and saw Dusty and Linda, Chris and Julia I thought, "I can't
believe those ass holes drove all the way from Texas for my birthday,"
and I was already excited and thinking that was just too unbelievably
nice and then they just started covering me up with little baby goats.
I learned that these goats and enough money to build an even more uber
fence than I have built in the last month -in my dog madness- as well
as get all their shots and keep them in hay for a couple of years, had
been donated by you and basically everyone I know... Well I just don't
know how to explain in words or otherwise -not even interpretive dance-
how I felt. Except to say -as I often have- that there is no
better community in this world than the Science Fiction community and
that there are no better group of people in this world than you guys.
course I have guilt -and what part of quit sending me stuff did you
guys not understand! How can I keep my bitter edge, if people keep
doing nice things for me- but I have to say that I have never felt more
appreciated then I do right now. In fact I'm beginning to think that
maybe, sometimes, karma really does work.
Anyway I just wanted
to thank you all for your cards and well wishes and your donations to
the goat cause. I love my new babies.
Final Note & In Memory Of...
a sad note, dogs got in one more time and killed Linda-goat. The goats
had been pregnant and so after ELE had a beautiful, red-coated doe,
Selina named her Lucky Linda--after Linda-goat. As Selina told me, the
dogs would kill the nicest of the goats. The fence has since been even
further reinforced and there hasn't been a problem since.