Television

This Oregon Couple (and Their Goat) Star in a New Discovery+ Series

Chad, Cate, and Frankie make for lovely company on episode three of animal-centric docuseries The Bond.

By Conner Reed August 5, 2022

Frankie, Cate, and Chad Battles

The opening credits of The Bond, a four-part docuseries now streaming on Discovery+, depict a string of questionable behaviors. Over a song that is not necessarily by OneRepublic but is in spirit absolutely by OneRepublic, viewers are treated to several static tableaus: a faceless stranger petting an alligator, another getting friendly with a wolf, another still going full Creation of Adam with a primate. I would let most dogs on planet earth lick my face without batting an eye, but watching all this unfold, I couldn’t repress my inner survivalist. "Please do not touch that wolf," I said to my television mid-sequence, giving my best panicked-but-patient preschool teacher.

The problem, I suppose, is that I just don’t have the bond—a “deep bond with creatures from across the animal kingdom” that serves as the show's unifying theme, per press materials. Two people who definitely do have it? Grants Pass couple Chad and Cate Battles, who star in The Bond's third episode. Under the handle @argosyodyssey, Chad and Cate have amassed more than 20,000 Instagram followers, with whom they share dispatches from their photo-friendly life in a converted 1976 Airstream Argosy. Theirs isn't just any van life situation, though—the Battles share that Airstream with their goat, Frankie, who is treated to an in-episode reveal (no spoilers) that rivals that 2013 Taylor Swift meme for sheer bleating joy.

Ever since she was a child, Cate has felt a connection to goats. "They're so inquisitive. They love exploring, they love nature, experiencing new things, tasting new things," she says. “[Frankie] wants to check out what's around the corner. She wants to try this, she wants to eat that—it's a lot like me." Cate convinced Chad to bring Frankie into their family in 2014, while the couple was still living with his children in North Carolina. Two years later, after those children left for college, the Battles decided to give up their three-bedroom house and live on the road, which meant bringing Frankie along with them. "We were surprised how easy the transition was from living a stationary life to traveling," Cate says. "It came to her naturally. She loved it just as much as we did."

Some people might reasonably meet resistance from loved ones when they announce they are going to take their goat and themselves on an indefinite camping trip, but it was not so for the Battles. "I think all of our friends and family know that Chad and I have always been a little bit different," says Cate. She's a full-time artist; Chad is a theater school grad who performed as a professional clown for 10 years. "We've kind of done our own thing and never really went with a crowd, so I don't think it was shocking to them for us to live in a 22-foot trailer with a goat."

When the couple is not at home in Grants Pass, where Cate runs an art studio, Chad does odd jobs, and the whole family frequents a gastropub called The Horny Goat, they spend about three months a year hitting up a variety of natural wonders. (Frankie loves the Southern Oregon Coast and California's Alabama Hills in particular, for their high bluffs.) In early 2021, the family was on a several-week stint at Utah's Capitol Reef National Park with Chad's children when they got a fateful Instagram DM from a producer for The Bond. 

“At first, I was like, ‘Oh, they’ve probably contacted hundreds of other people, they’re not going to pick us,’” Cate says. “But sure enough, they followed up, and directors came out, producers came out, and then come June, we were on a monthlong road trip with a film crew around the West.”

In the episode, the Battles travel in a loop: from Grants Pass to Wyoming, then up and back through Idaho (where they attend a memorable, Nomadland-adjacent goat owner meetup), and down the coast to Gold Beach, where they scatter the ashes of Frankie's former companion, the beloved family dog. Along the way, they make for impossibly entertaining company. Cate is a blast of goat-loving sunshine who still comes across very tethered to planet earth, and Chad is a deadpan hoot, at one point using the bow for his musical saw on Frankie's horns and dubbing it "the horn section" at "goatchella." (His favorite campfire saw song, for the record, is "Amazing Grace," "because it's easy.")

Despite their star-making performances, the fairly private pair haven't had to contend with any instant fame. "It's not exactly like we walk down the street and anyone recognizes us," says Chad. If anyone does get recognized, it's Frankie, which is pretty much the same as it was pre-Bond—the goat is the axis around which their world spins. The couple hasn't been to a movie in years, because someone has to stay with Frankie at all times, and she's the obvious inspiration for the bulk of gifts they receive. "A lot of people send us goat dish towels, strangely," says Chad; Cate is the proud owner of more goat socks than she can count.

Their advice for viewers at home hoping to goat up their own lives? "It's very important to do your research," says Cate. "Goats require lots of care, lots of attention, lots of enrichment. Otherwise they get bored and unhappy and lonely." She suggests either buying more than one goat to add to the family, or scheduling lots of play dates, as she and Chad do for Frankie. Smaller females are lowest-maintenance, says Chad, and if you plan to turn your goat into a hiking buddy, start 'em early. 

And most crucially, for any fur-inclusive families hoping to hit the road, the couple advises against getting too fooled by the high-gloss van life social media aesthetic. "Don't think of full-time travel as being an Instagram post. As you saw in the episode, there's always something happening, something breaking. It's not the way everyone thinks it is," says Chad. Indeed, early on in the episode, they hit a bump and unsecured cabinets fly open, fridge contents spill out, and the impact on the tiny bathroom is best left to the imagination (or perhaps not). When the Battles park and assess the damage, they shrug and laugh through it, superhumanly unfazed, then go back to petting their beloved Frankie.

"It can be challenging at times," Chad admits. "But very rewarding at the same time." In the nicest way possible: the bond is a hell of a drug.

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