It takes a village to raise a child
On September 5 I saw a post on a local community Facebook page regarding a group of goats who were frequenting a local property. The property owner had posted asking if anyone knew the carer of the goats as they were roaming the neighbourhood, causing damage.
After suggesting the local Shire be contacted, I sent a private message to find out what was happening, as no one had claimed the goats.
The property owner was frustrated at the damage to their garden but did not want the goats to come to any harm, so I suggested I bring over some panels to try to secure the goats and take it from there. Thus started a three month journey…….
I dropped off the panels but at that stage realised the enormity of the challenge. This was in a local area I had not previously visited. A gorge, bushland, ravines…
Then the ‘owner’ of the goats became known. A relatively new property owner, a largely absent property owner, had decided to purchase five goats, but did not make provision for them to be contained. In the area is a herd of abandoned goats. Before long the five goats were lured into the wilds…and so the problem began.
Roaming far and wide across impenetrable terrain, the goats visited olive groves, vegetable gardens, and caused angst amongst the land holders. They did however regularly return to their ‘home’ but because the fencing was inadequate, sooner or later they were on the prowl again.
We were given permission to take the goats, if we could secure them….
So a rescue began……
It is all very well to take on animals, but you need to know where they will go to be safe for life. We have a large property and our goats are happy here…but they are the type of goats who hang around. We could not risk letting these goats roam again, and our secure yards are already occupied, A call for help was answered, and a deal struck. We would take in five rescued sheep from another rescue to join our flock, in exchange for them providing 5-star goat accommodation in their existing secure enclosures.
Then I received a call. The owner of the goats was planning to shoot the goats. Not only was this a cruel and unnecessary outcome, unless a goat was killed immediately it would run off to die an horrific death in the bush. Getting the goats was now critical.
The goats had returned to base and I was advised, contained in a yard. So I headed off with the horse float to collect them…….
When I arrived it was apparent the yards were not secure. We tried our best in the circumstances but to no avail…and the end result was the goats headed bush again
Another call that the goats were back…but this time when we arrived and they were running loose in a 100 acre paddock.
We were then advised that the goats were back at the neighbours. So we set up an appealing ‘goat retreat’ in their shelter with straw bedding, water and feed, hoping they would decide to make it their base. Our plan was to set up a feeding station in a secure yard, and use this to capture the goats.
We heard nothing for a number of weeks, weeks where we were busy with incoming rescues. When we next made contact we found out the goats were still roaming and the neighbourhood was up in arms. The owner still refused to do anything but get a shooter in.
We had already discussed options with other rescues skilled in goat recovery. With time running out and the logistics being so tricky it became clear that there was now only one viable option….the expertise of Manfred, from Five Freedoms Animal Rescue.
It is a huge ask to dart and capture five goats. With any shot being fired the rest will disperse, and this was impossible terrain. Wild, steep, bushland going for miles, with nothing to contain the goats.
The neighbour agreed to coordinate with the representative of the goat’s owner and the neighbourhood to allow us time. They also agreed to coordinate directly with Manfred on the goats’ whereabouts. We were pulling this together when a friend sent me a Facebook post that was being circulated.
‘Free to good home 5 lovely whipper/snippers (goats), they are for the chop If nobody takes them’
It was late at night when I opened the message and saw with horror the five goats, with comments on the post about how wonderful they would be in various meat dishes.
Several frantic messages and texts later, Manfred rearranged a full schedule to get to the farm. The owner was contacted to agree that the property be accessed.
Amazingly, and totally to the credit of Manfred, four of the five goats were successfully darted and captured…..this was incredible given the situation where the goats could not be contained. The four were transported to a new home.
We were so happy…but each and every one of us could only think about the last goat, who had run off before she could be darted. Manfred, so professional and so compassionate, would not rest until the fifth goat was brought in.
The two days later I received a message. The fifth goat had appeared. Manfred went back and darted her…but the dart glanced off and she took to the bush. Manfred, Helen and everyone searched through thick bush terrain for hours but she could not be found.
Holding onto hope we waited….
Then on Sunday morning, another message. The goat had reappeared, seeking comfort from the resident alpacas. Once again Manfred drove to the farm. We waited for news. Then I received a message…could I head to the farm, help was needed.
By the time I got there Manfred had secured her. Climbing again through the horrific terrain was about to return, desperate that the goat again had got away when he spotted a ‘strange looking rock’….
Getting her back was a heroic task but he did it…Safely contained…the fifth goat….hardly to be believed.
Within an hour all five were reunited, now safe forever.
Sadly the owner has no interest in contributing to the cost of securing the goats, no interest in their welfare, no interest in even making contact to say a thank you.
Please, only ever bring animals into your life if you are willing and able to take full responsibility to care for them and protect them from harm, and this includes making sure they are not causing disruption to others.
It takes a village…not only to raise a child, it takes community of rescuers, it takes people like the neighbours in this case, who wanted the best outcome for the goats, who were willing to do whatever it took…it takes this to do right.
Our sincere thanks to those who cared, the compassionate neighbours, willing to give practical support and help, to Pam from Edgars Mission who offered advice and support, to Jason for coming out to try and get the goats in, to Anne from Horse Shepherd for providing a safe haven, and to Manfred and Helen, for their compassion, skill and boundless determination, for making it possible.
It takes a village…………………