By Fran Bishop
(as written for Breeder's Choice Magazine in Canada)
As I look out my window and ponder this question it brings back many fond memories from long ago. When I was a child, born and raised in Syracuse, NY, I never quite felt like I belonged in the city. Then Bonnie moved in next door to me. Her grandmother lived in Mannsville, NY. Grandma Coger had a dairy farm across the street from her house, several farm fields surrounding her and most important Bobby's horse up the road. Growing up I often said , "All I ever want is a horse". Visiting Bonnie's grandmother with her afforded me the opportunity to be in the country (which made me feel like I had died and gone to heaven) and near the much longed for horse. Now and then Bobby would bring his horse down for us to ride. Most of the kids rode for 2 or 3 minutes and then wanted to socialize which left me with the horse all to myself. I would ride and feel like life couldn't possibly be any better. So why pygmy goats? HMMMM!
Bonnie and I went our separate ways in high school. I got married, had 4 daughters, divorced and remarried. Still I often said, "All I ever want is a horse". My new loving husband and children wanted very much for me to have my dream so we started to look for a house in the country; the first step. Finally we found one that we could afford and it had 7 acres. It felt like I owned the Ponderosa of Lysander. That feeling was short lived when I found out many of my neighbors owned several acres more than I did; but it didn't change the fact that I had a place for a horse. By accident we met some folks that raised Morgan horses and we soon purchased my first horse, Reggie who is now 23 years old. We began building a barn for our new acquisition and my husband fell in love with Reggie's younger sister so I bought Spirit for him. Now we had two horses. Life was good. Soooo why pygmy goats?
Quickly we learned that if we left the horses to climb up and down the hillside for long it began to erode. It only took a little work to fence off the hillside so they couldn't climb it. Soon it was covered with weeds growing out of control. It was steep and full of rocks so mowing wasn't an option. What to do, what to do. Aha, goats were the answer. But why pygmy goats?
We set off to purchase 1 maybe 2 pet goats. We had no particular breed in mind, just wanted pets. After being a day late and a dollar short for several ads we found one for pygmy goats. What kind of goats were these? We didn't know much about goats but we were definitely interested to find out what these goats were all about. We found them to be just what we needed and the right age so we bought our first pygmy goats, a doe and a wether who had been orphaned at birth. Since they were bottle raised they were little rascals but truly loved by us. Thus the beginnings of our goat herd. And that's why pygmy goats!
After about a year and a half of never ending fun with these truly gregarious fun loving creatures we decided maybe we would breed our doe. This thought had never crossed our mind when we bought them but now that they were adult the desire to have one of those cute lovable kids around again overcame us. We had our doe bred and as is quite common for first time kidders she had a buck kid. From the beginning we knew we could never part with him so it didn't matter one way or the other whether he was buck quality or not, he would be a pet wether.
We were so proud of our goats that we got the urge to take them to a show. Horse showing is so stressful. Hours and hours of training and grooming and getting everything ready and hooking up the trailer, and on and on. Goat showing is indeed a pleasure. Trim feet, clip a few out of place hairs, brush, pick them up, put in a kennel or the back seat and off you go. Wow, this was fun! Soon we were completely hooked.
We purchased another doe and this new doe produced RSA Dillon, our first Permanent Grand Champion. Then came PGCH Turtle Run Saba, who was the 1992 National Champion of the National Pygmy Goat Association of the USA, and PGCH RSA Mallory, PGCH Mountain View's Dimetri, PGCH RSA Clive and many Junior, Senior and Grand Champions at shows. Oh, I don't want to forget our Champion wether RSA Martin Barre.
We now have several pygmy goats in various stages of championships. I have been as far away as The Georgia State Fair to show my goats and try to make at least 6 to 8 shows a year. Someday I hope we can work out the border problems with Canada so we can freely cross back and forth to show our animals. It seems ironic that I travel as far as Georgia and can't go 3 hours away to Canada. Oh well, we'll keep working on it.
Nothing can compare to the comaraderie of the folks at a goat show. I always tell my friends that I go to the shows for dinner on Saturday night, and I mean that. We get together after the shows and have a great time exchanging stories and health tips and simply having fun. No hard feelings no matter who wins or loses. Life is good.
I am a judge and have been director for Region 5 for the past 5 years for NPGA.
I have expanded my goat herd to include pygora fleece goats. I am also a judge, director and treasurer for the Pygora Breeders Association.
I always thought breeding and showing horses was to be my destiny and some day I might just do that, but until I retire I only have time to breed and show my goats. Horses are truly my first love and always will be but through my goats I have met wonderful people and have made friendships that I will cherish always.
It all began when Bonnie asked if I would go to her grandmother's house in Mannsville. That's when I decided living in the country was where I had to be. Bonnie won many battles but finally lost the war with cancer last year, but my memories of her and the good times we shared will be with me forever. I dedicate this story to my friend, Bonnie Cifaratta.