Tanner Clark holds one of his uncle's kids

Friday, May 4, 2007

Tennessee Fainting Goats can be a trip!

Suffering from "empty nest syndrome" and anticipating retirement I decided I would like to have some animals to tend.

Before I went to work full time I had geese, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, chickens and other animals.

I found some rescued Alpacas in Pennsylvania and decided I wanted to get two neutered males. I thought it would be fun to see them in the chicken yard and when we sell pumpkins in the fall, the children could view them.

The more I that read about Alpacas the more excited I became. Then I talked to my husband, who very thoughtfully said, "I'll get you a better fence, but let's start with a few goats."

I changed gears and started reading about goats. My mother is originally from Lewisburg, where the original fainting goats began in the U.S. in the early 1800's.

I've read many stories about the first ones. The stories are all very similar. It seems a man moved to Lewisburg with three or four of these goats. He didn't speak any English -- or not much. It is rumored he was from Bolivia or Nova Scotia and some say his name was Tinsley.

When he died, or left, it is said a local doctor, possibly a Dr. Mayberry, took over his small herd and all of the Tennessee Fainting Goats came from this small herd.

Looking online I've met a lot of nice goat owners, who really take great care of their fainting goats -- in Wisconsin, Nebraska, all around, which all originated in Lewisburg.

I called my cousin, Barbara McCord, who lives in Nashville now, but is from Lewisburg, in Marshall County. I asked her if she would go with my husband and me to look for some of these goats. The fainting goats are also called wooden-legged, stiff legged, epileptic, nervous goats, etc. These goats actually have a condition known as Myotonia congenital. It causes the goat to lock up when frightened or startled. They are actually aware the entire time and it only lasts a few seconds.

A lot of us have seen the news story where newscasters go to Lewisburg and someone goes out into a herd with an umbrella and the goats, upon seeing that open umbrella, all fall down.

I had a difficult time choosing between the Tennessee Fainting Goats and the beautiful spotted Nubians. I think the hometown connection led me.

Goats are considered livestock and are in the same family as deer.

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists these Tennessee Fainting Goats as a rare breed in need of preservation.

I've also learned from Jim Knapp's Web site (from Michigan), that the goats have a historical purpose, which makes me really sad.

Probably shepherds often kept the goats in their flocks of sheep, as insurance, in case of predator attacks. The theory is that wolves would come down from the hills; the goats would become startled and would faint. The sheep would make a clean getaway, as the wolves would focus on the stunned goats.

For more information you can go to goatsmusicandmore.com or call 1-866-96goats to find out about the goat festival that is held annually in Lewisburg at Rock Creek Park. This year it will be held Oct. 12 and 13. From Nashville, take I-65 S and take exit 37 and follow signs. There will be many goat shows, including Boer Goat Show and a Mini Silky Fainting Goat Show. There will also be a goat seminar, arts and crafts, food vendors and entertainment.

As for the trip to Lewisburg one of those cold April Saturdays, it was fun.

I got to visit with my kinfolk. I have many fond memories playing with my cousin, Teresa Kay, as a child, and staying with my Aunt Brownie. I was able to see Teresa Kay, my uncle, Junior McCord, and cousin John McCord, who is an Assistant Fire Chief, in addition to his regular job.

Every time I go to Lewisburg, I drink in the scenery of the rolling hills.

We ended up buying our goats from Benny and Amy Clark. You could tell they love and care for their goats, which come from old stock. The goats were healthy, with testing with their local vet. We were very impressed with their regular medical maintenance program, as well.

The truck we traveled in was high off the ground and we put a camper on it, to carry the goats.

Over dinner the next day, one of my sons said to me, "Daddy said you and Barbara couldn't hardly get up in that truck. Ha, Ha, Ha."

We are already planning a fall trip to go back to Lewisburg. I'm going to carry a step stool the next time since there isn't a running board on that truck.

Lana Osborne may be reached at Losborne@mtcngroup.com or to Llanao@aol.com.