The Year of the Goat

“I know there are stereotypes: They eat cans and smell bad,” said William Kowalik, a representative of the American Goat Society. “That’s not true. They are very much like dogs. They are great pets. The goats know what kind of mood you are in. They can get a person to open up.”

Angela Bailey lives a 20-minute drive from St. Paul. A friend suggested she get a goat, saying their milk was easy to digest. In May, Ms. Bailey’s husband gave her two kids for her birthday. “They wag their tails when they are happy,” she said. “ They like to be scratched and petted, and they love to be around all of us.” Equally appealing, she said, “their poop does not stink.”

Ms. Bailey’s city friends weren’t as thrilled. “It felt like they were rolling their eyes a little,” she said. Her six children, though, have warmed up to the goats, especially her girls. “There’s a lot of hugging going on,” she said.

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Goats have a defined social caste, despite their laid back goofiness. “Everyone has their own spot,” said Mr. Kowalik, who has goats and lives in San Antonio. “They learn the order, and if you don’t follow it, they will pout.” If a goat sniffs another goat’s food, “they’ll walk off and refuse to eat,” he said. “If a piece of watermelon touches the ground, they won’t eat it. They also get into: ‘That’s not my…

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