Of course I can't possibly know what an intact male goat understands, feels or loves, but having Cooper as part of our Elk Cliff Farm family for 6 years, I think I can safely say he DID think, feel and love. I've seen it. Cooper was smart, he was sweet and he understood his place and what part he played on the farm. At least that's what I want to believe.
I should also share that he was also loved and accepted by the others in the herd. When I say herd, I don't mean just the goat herd. I mean goats, dogs, cows, pigs and donkeys. The whole crew. Being a buck he had to be moved from one pasture to another, depending on what time of year it was, so he spent time with the girl goats, cows and donkeys part of the year and the rest of the time with the bulls and pigs. Cooper got along with everyone.
I could tell lots of stories about him but one of the most significant ones which shows how my girls loved him is...... It was the beginning of breeding season and I was hoping to breed many of the girls with Cato, my young, black buck - Cooper's very good buddy and head-bashing-mate. The day I saw Luti was in heat I introduced her to Cato and she wanted no part of him. She stood at the fence begging to be with Cooper. The two of them had been partners for 4 years and I guess she only had eyes for him, and so it was to be. This year will be the first year she accepted Cato and that's only because I had Cooper over in our yard with Willo, his most constant and doting companion, which reminds me of another story.
The day I got my 3 mammoth donkeys in 2012 I wasn't sure how they'd react to my goats. I put them in with my 2 boys, Cooper and Jimmy. Willo quickly claimed Cooper as hers and the other 2 donkeys weren't allowed near him, nor was she interested in Jimmy. If the other donkeys went near Cooper she kicked them. Cooper seemed ok with it because the next morning when he was separated from Willo I found him up against the fence with her on the other side.
Their relationship has been an interesting and sweet cross species love affair. Love is love, right?
For a buck, Cooper was rather mild mannered most of the time. There was only one year he was somewhat aggressive with me. He would mount anything in sight and was equally attracted to me (or any other breathing object) as he was the girl goats. He was much stronger back then so I kept my distance. It's hard to picture that this past year as his muscles atrophied and he wanted to be gently cuddled.
Another one of my favorite memories of him was the year I dressed him up as an angel for Halloween. He was in rut and definitely not angel-like.
This morning everyone was at the barn waiting for me. Everyone but Cooper. I did my milking and figured I'd find him up at the run-in shelter. When I didn't find him there I knew we'd lost him.
It was a foggy, wet morning and no goat would stay out in that weather unless they couldn't get to the barn.
I kept asking the dogs and Willo where he was but none of them led me to his body. I walked for about 30 minutes till I found him. He was still alive, but barely. I covered him with a horse blanket until Adam came to help me put him down. It was really sad but a relief, in a way.
Cooper has offspring all over the place. I still have two of his girls, Linus and Lily. I'm going to miss that stinky character. He was one of a kind.