How The Hen House Turns: Goats And Deer

How the Hen House Turns
By Carolyn A. (Cary) Neeper, Ph. D.
Goats and Deer

When we first moved to Los Alamos, we were told about a lady, Alice Westervelt, who had a house goat. Rumor had it that the goat had been easily trained, was quite civilized really, but that it ate everything in the garden.

Goats are famous for eating tin cans, but I suspect that was not Alice’s problem. She was probably not a Master Gardener, and she probably could not hang up her red shirts on the line outside to dry. Trains have probably never passed through Los Alamos, so there were none to flag. (“Bill Grogan’s Goat” will be sung at the next birthday dinner here in California. Us old folks love that song. Check it out on You Tube.)

Okay, so why couldn’t our eldest daughter have a goat? She fell in love with one at the N.M. State Fair circa 1974. Having a pet was a desperate need for our child at that time. I think you can have goats now in Los Alamos, as long as they are housed 100 feet from a human dwelling and are not “livestock.” It’s worth looking into, for goats are interesting, very intelligent, trainable animals. Except for eating flowers.

They eat anything that will go down their throat, according to tradition. We have a similar problem with deer here in California, but deer are very picky eaters. They don’t care for camellias, so the campus here is a-bloom with their pink and white flowers all winter!

It’s too bad camellias don’t do well in Los Alamos. Tulips do. Remember Ruth Jennings? She loved seeing deer in her yard when she first moved to Los Alamos. Then she innocently planted tulips around her house on 48th Street, which were promptly eaten by deer. I’m afraid the lovely deer went to the bottom of her favorite animal list. Goats were probably never on her list, as they were on our eldest daughter’s, who had to settle for a skunk.

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