Two of our goats are Bessie and Milo, a mother and son. They came to us four years ago when Milo was a baby and still nursing.
The two goats had been living in a backyard in Coney Island when a neighbor learned that the owners planned to slaughter them for food. The neighbor, a woman who loves all animals, became distraught and called the police. The police told the owners that it is illegal to keep farm animals in Coney Island and took the goats to an animal control facility.
The goats remained in the facility for several days while it searched for a safe, permanent home. Finally, the facility found our farm sanctuary.
We welcomed the goats and were impressed by their sweet dispositions. They were very friendly to humans and enjoyed our pats and rubs. One of our youngest staff members enthusiastically suggested the names we gave them.
Milo grew to be much larger than Bessie, but like her, he has remained a gentle soul. Both sometimes play fight with our other goats, butting heads with them, but not very roughly.
And Bessie and Milo, like all our other goats, try to avoid Duncan.
Duncan is the dominant goat on our farm. He is very strong, and although he has calmed down a bit over the years, he can still be a bully. He frequently engages other goats in aggressive play fights in order to demonstrate his superior strength.
One day last summer Duncan started a tussle with Bessie. Bessie tried to retreat, but Duncan kept after her. She looked upset, and I was thinking about intervening, when something unexpected occurred.
From afar, Milo raced over and picked up the fight with Duncan. I never saw Milo head butt so fiercely. Over and over, Milo and Duncan rose up on their hind legs and hammered down on each other with their horns. When their horns hit, the cracking sound rang throughout the farm.
After several minutes, the contest ended in a draw, and Duncan and Milo went their separate ways.
I haven’t seen Milo battle Duncan again. But Duncan hasn’t pestered Milo’s mother again, either.
Bill and his wife, Ellen, founded Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary in Poughquag in 2008. Bill is the author of the book, “The Emotional Lives of Animals and Children: Insights from a Farm Sanctuary.” The farm’s website is www.safehavenfarmsanctuary.org