All my doelings (baby girl goats) have been named alphabetically in succession; the last was called Vickie II. Had Esther been born when the letter V turned up, her name should have been Vanity. She will jump up on the stand for breakfast, but will not take a bite until I pick up the brush and then still will wait until I walk around and pretty up both sides of her coat. Esther wants to look her best before facing the world. Cindy and Esther are sisters, two of triplets born that year. Their sibling, Dora, was sold years back. Cindy shows none of her sister's reticence; she charges into the milking room first and woe to me if I'm slow getting the food in her dish. Cindy does everything in a rush, dithering around as I open gates at night, shouldering her way past the others so as to be first into the big room at bedtime. Ruth has been a hellion in her day, but has become more placid with age. She will be twelve next month; the eldest in the herd. She still must have a room by herself at night, though, because she now gets the worst of any fight she starts. We've often accused Ruthie of being a ham, as she strikes a pose and "grins" whenever she catches sight of a camera. In truth, what she's doing when she curls her upper lip back is called flehmening, exposing the Jacobs gland which is a highly developed scent detector in the roof of the mouth. Inga is the skittery one. She is a worrier, startled by sights and sounds, peeking around corners, most reluctant to go into a dark room. She is my "Pigpen" girl; no matter how many times I brush her down, her hair always goes every which way but smooth, bits of flotsam and jetsam stuck here and there. Sheila remains my Valley Girl, bouncing and skipping her way down the hill. When I "hear" her voice, it's punctuated with "like," and "ya know." Tessie is the "Good Sister." She comes when called, stands quietly while being milked, gives a ton of milk with easy teats, and fights only when provoked. Everyone needs one Tessie in a herd.
And then there is Poppy, the goat in sheep's clothing. Having been raised since infancy with the herd and on goat's milk, she thinks she's an ugly-duckling sister. She's always the last in line, slowest to get the treats Joel sometimes throws over the fence. She "speaks" to me in the dolorous tones of Eeyore.
All these personalities make it difficult for me to think of my girls as "just goats," or "just animals." They are individuals, each with her own character. And they are characters!