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People & Pets

Friendly goats

7/3/2019

Pets entertain with circus-like antics.

The Smith family includes Remi, Zach holding Hadley, Nicky and Ellie.

When Nicky and Zach Smith moved to their home in rural Polk City, they wanted their children to be raised with animals. With three dogs, a pony and four cats, that should be enough, right? It wasn’t.

Nicky began researching goats as pets and purchased a Nigerian Dwarf purebred goat. Soon, they needed a second one to keep her company. Then they added four more. This spring, four goats gave birth to a total of 10 babies. Nicky explains her love of goats.

“I heard they are docile around kids,” she says. “I grew up with horses and always wanted our kids to have the same experience we did raising animals.”

Similar to a mini-circus, the goats entertain, walking on balance beams, jumping on the pony’s back and performing escape artist tricks when a gate opens.

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“The higher they climb, the happier they seem to be,” says Nicky. “The goats are intelligent and are escape artists. If there’s a way out of the barn, they’ll find it.”

Nicky’s daughters, Remi, 6, and Ellie, 5, enjoy cuddling with the goats. Remi demonstrated walking on a balance-type beam set up for one of the goats, coaxing her along as she climbed up the spool. Nicky says she trusts the girls and goats together.

“The girls can go and play with them, and we don’t have to worry about them,” she says.

Nicky cites farm life as a positive learning environment. Both she and Zach grew up on farms.

“It’s good for the girls to learn how to do chores and take care of the animals,” she says.

Remi feeds hay and grain to the goats and hopes to show a goat at 4-H this year. They’ve also welcomed students from North Polk Elementary School.

The goats are capable of producing as milking goats, but the family hasn’t attempted it yet due to time constraints. In addition, the Smiths raise chickens and Berkshire hogs.

Goat clean up and care isn’t generally difficult, but Iowa’s freezing temps do present challenges. During a power outage last winter in the extreme cold, the heat lamps stopped working, and the water troughs froze.

“Are we crazy to raise animals like this?” asks Zach. “It was brutal cold in January, but all the animals made it.”

When the goats went into labor, they needed no assistance. Two goats had triplets, and one had twins.

“I didn’t help them,” says Nicky. “It’s like they waited for us to leave to have their kids.”

The Smiths insist the goats are mostly like dogs, who follow them around, seeking attention.

“They really are friendly,” says Nicky. “They get in your face and love them all over.” ♦

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