I've Made a Terrible Mistake

Portland Confession: I Tried to Breed Backyard Goats

“The stud goat made lewd tongue gestures at our doe and spent most of his waking hours urinating in his own face.”

By Kat Merck June 19, 2018 Published in the July 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Jack Dylan

"I’m going in,” I told my husband on the phone, lubing up my blue-rubber-gloved hand with K-Y. According to The Backyard Goat, a paperback I had purchased at Powell’s, I was supposed to see an amniotic sac emerge from the doe’s nether regions, and instead I saw a hoof. This was not going to be good.

It had all started a year prior, when my husband and I, new homeowners enraptured with the backyard-farm-animals trend, returned from a trip to St. Helens, Oregon, with two young Nigerian dwarf goats in the back of our Toyota Tacoma. We named the female Trixie; the castrated male was Jerry.

Blinded by fantasies of making our own goat cheese, we were determined to breed Trixie in order to produce milk. However, this required a stud goat.

After much searching, we found a woman who kept a stud in her Southeast backyard. After agreeing on a fee of $50 to keep him until romance ensued, we drove to Laurelhurst to retrieve Felipe. 

We smelled the stud before we saw him. Rounding the corner, we encountered a musk best described as “flattened skunk on the highway” with a hint of “sweat socks stored in a dangerously anaerobic environment.” Enormous, with a long white beard and horns, Felipe looked plucked from a mountaintop in Andalusia. Back in our yard, he made lewd tongue gestures at Trixie and spent most of his waking hours urinating in his own face. The odor carried for blocks.

Once the deed was done and our doe gestated for five months, there I was one morning, alone, glove on one hand and phone in the other, unexpectedly delivering Nigerian dwarf quadruplets. Two of them were stillborn, and the other two never did produce milk, nor did their mother. Trixie and her two daughters, along with Jerry, are now residents of a farm in Molalla that crafts goat’s milk soap. Their contributions are limited to weed control, and we still buy our goat cheese at New Seasons.

Kat Merck is a freelance writer who once kept everything from chickens and ducks to a tank of bullfrog tadpoles on her North Portland lot. She now lives in Camas, Washington, with more property on which to make mistakes.
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