Sheltered Islander: Fainting Goats on the Rock!

Fainting goats have landed on Shelter Island!
Fainting goats have landed on Shelter Island! Photo: Dimitar Marinov/iStock/Thinkstock

We got such big news here, you wouldn’t believe!

Sylvester Manor, about 250 acres of protected land (no hunting), plays a big part in Island life, hosting events, visitor tours and much more. Children get to see little animals. And the big news is the Manor has acquired two goats, the only ones on the Island, I think, named Copper and Cricket. I can’t recall if they’re hemales, or shemales, or to cover all bases, transgender, but they’re adorable. Their bearded faces remind me of men in my past, and when they turn around, they still remind me of them.

Goats are notorious escape artists. But the Manor wisely solved this problem by getting Fainting Goats from Falling Goat Farms in Maine. (And where else would you buy a Fainting Goat?) The goats don’t actually faint. The have a condition called myotonia congentia. When scared or startled, their muscles lock up and they fall over. You can observe this same behavior in people at 4 a.m. at The Dory.

The goats perform a wonderful service. The eat brambles. More importantly, they eat the famous Reaching Brambles of Shelter Island. Reaching Brambles can detect cotton, which they love. When cotton clothing tries to pass, they reach out, grab it and hang on. It takes five minutes, and significant cursing, to escape.

Years ago, an old timer told me about an Islander in the 1940s who used to rent six sheep out to anyone with a fenced yard who wanted their lawn mowed and fertilized at the same time. He’d drop off six sheep for as long as needed, then use his dog to round them up, get them up the ramp into the back of the truck, and off to the next job. That’s a great idea today.

It made me think of other uses for our new goats. We could have an annual Goat Race. I’m not aware of any other goat racing on the East End, so it would be novelty. We could draw in people from as far as Greenport or Sag Harbor. People sitting quietly in lawn chairs like at a golf tournament. Remember, these goats faint if startled, so we’d have to be quiet or the contestants would hit the deck every 10 feet. But we could be loud afterward at the bar.

“Joe, I got Sally, see if you can get Cathy on her feet. All right now, Miss Sally, where are you two walking to in the middle of the night?”

“We’re just walking to Cathy’s house. You have beautiful eyes, Ossifer. She lives just four houses from the Dory.”

“Yes, but you’re going the wrong way. I think you’re inebriated. Let’s get you turned around.”

“We aren’t abbreviated, sir, we kissed Copper, the goat we bet on, and I think we caught his disease, myopia in absentia in excelcious deo.”

“Look, see? There’s Cathy’s husband coming to get you two senior delinquents.”

“But goat racing is so exciting. The clip-clop of their feet, the way they fight over a straw hat that flew off someone’s head…”

“All right, you girls go with Bill. Goodbye. Well, Joe, that’s the third goat problem we’ve had tonight. It’s an epidemic I tell ya.”

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