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Thursday, 10 September 2020

Book Review - The Goat, A Natural & Cultural History - Princeton University Press

 


     Who among us is not charmed by goats? From gruff billy goats in fairy tales to regimental mascots, goats have been closely associated with mankind since hunter-gathering ceased to be the primary mode of life for humans. Goats have provided companionship, milk, meat, wool, leather and yeoman service as a beast of burden. In the process they have enchanted us throughout history and continue to do so to this day.
     This captivating, beautifully illustrated book, covers every aspect of goat life from anatomy and biology to domestication and association with human society, even as the sacrificial animal of choice for several major religions, where incredibly, a blood sacrifice is still required to honour or appease the god of choice.
     Goats are used for brush control and even as a substitute for the lawn mower in some places. Well known for their omnivorous diet and voracious appetites, they are not immune to the toxic effects of certain plants, however, and the author is at pains to point out the flowers and shrubs that have injurious consequences for goats. Who would have thought that Lupines, Daffodills and Foxgloves pose such a threat?       The book is filled with fascinating insights into goat behaviour and we learn that a team of ten goats can clear an acre in one month. Feral goats are a serious threat to native vegetation and endemic wildlife in regions where they have been introduced by humans, and in order to protect and restore ecosystem integrity, eradication programmes have been implemented. If ten goats can clear an acre in a month it is sobering to contemplate what thousands of feral animals can do to a fragile ecosystem in short order.
     We are all familiar with domestic goats, but many wild species still exist in their ancestral territories, especially in mountainous areas difficult of access to humans. These creatures are magnificent wild animals and evoke awe from all who see them. To encounter a Mountain Goat in the western ranges of North America is an experience not soon forgotten.
     There is little about goats, if anything at all, that you will not find in this book, and the photographs are at once delightful and a perfect accompaniment to a lively, well-written text. 
    The final chapter A Directory of Goat Breeds is quite outstanding, with fabulous pictures of the various breeds, concise information and a range map. This is followed by a glossary, a very useful and often overlooked tool.
     Let me leave you with this manifestation of goat affection toward humans, a cautionary note from page 114, perhaps.

Goats show affection by gazing into the faces of humans they like. All goats have scent glands in close approximation to their horns, or where their horns would be, so they rub their foreheads on people they care for to distribute their scent (which only goats can smell). Some friendly bucks will also attempt to urinate on humans to show affection as they would a doe - and, even worse, this often happens during rut, when lots of pheromones are present.

     Don't claim we didn't warn you!

The Goat - A Natural & Cultural History
Sue Weaver
US$27.95 - £22.00 - ISBN: 9780691191331 - 224 pages - 250 coloured illustrations - 7.75 in. x 9.25 in.
Publications date: 13 October 2020


53 comments:

  1. Oh yes, they are very cute! But I'm so happy about they live far from here. In the west of Norway many people have goats on tbeir farms. I think they have loved my garden, and there would be nothing left if they was able to eat here, David :)
    I'm sure the book is great.

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  2. Hello David,

    Yes, I love the goats, I have seen them in the wild and on farms. Our neighbor had a few goats when we first moved here. They are cute critters. Great review, thanks for sharing the book. Take care, enjoy your day!

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  3. I'm familiar only with the goat milk and yougurt sold at the supermarket; and I am not a great fan of these products.
    I do like, however, your review and its fine english language. Reviews of this kind bring us close to nature and its various inhabitants.

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  4. C'est original un livre sur les chêvres. Je sais que les bulbes de jonquilles sont très toxiques, c'est pour cela que les rongeurs n'y touchent pas contrairement à ceux de tulipes.Les digitales sont très toxiques aussi.
    Bonne journée

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  5. The goats discovered the coffee beans...🙂

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  6. Sounds like a wonderful read! My son bought his first goat ten years ago, it was so tiny and cried like a baby, our son held him and cared for him like child, they are such good friends, it shocked me how much they are like a dog..
    This book would be wonderful Christmas present for him!

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  7. I think goats are so cute. I know -- not perfect but.... This sounds like a good book. Interesting, all the things they do. I have to admit, I never heard of feral goats!

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    1. There are areas in Hawaii, Jeanie, just as one example, where native vegetation has been decimated by historically introduced goats that have overrun parts of the islands, with a knock on effect on endemic birds and other wildlife. If one of those fabulous Hawaiian honeycreepers is bound to a certain plant for food and shelter and the goats chew it down, the result is both tragic and obvious.

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  8. Una Gran reseña la de ese libro como todos los que recomiendas querido amigo. Hace muchos años, tuvimos una cabra que la criamos desde pequeñita, era totalmente blanca y era muy cariñosa, mis hijos jugaban con ella, vivió mucho tiempo y su perdida fue todo un drama.
    Un fuerte abrazo amigo y compadre David.

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  9. I love goats! They are gentle, loving, capricious, playful. We had a small herd of Toggenburg goats in the ‘70s when we lived in the Appalachian Mountains. They kept down the vegetation and gave us milk and entertainment besides.

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  10. Goats are wonderful animals. I used to love seeing the wild mountain goats in Israel, and it was astonishing to see them picking their way over stones and shale, so sure footed. Sometimes they stood on their hind legs to eat leaves from certain trees. Thanks for this informative book review. Have a wonderful day, hugs, Valerie

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  11. When my grandchildren were very young I took them to a local wildlife park. We went into an area where there were pygmy goats for them to stroke. I sat on a rock whilst the children played with them, but Suddenly some of them came over to me, climbed upon my lap and even ended up sitting on my shoulders, they wouldn't leave me alone, much to the great amusement of the children.

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  12. I like goat cheese a lot. Sounds like a great book, Hope it has lots of photos.

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  13. Goats are such charismatic creatures and the kids are completely irresistible. There was a time many years ago when I dreamed of having a few in our yard, mostly as pets, but I never acted on the whim. I have a friend who raises them so I can always visit there when I need a goat fix!

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  14. My wife and I were supposed to go to the Old Irish Goat Centre in Mulranny to see the goats. Unfortunately, it closed due to Covid. Hopefully next year will be better. I put the link at the bottom so you could check it out. Ther is a short video to view.

    https://oldirishgoat.ie/

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    1. Thank you for the link, Bill. I will check it out.

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  15. I was thrilled last year to learn that our local council has employed a goat woman and her charges to clear areas beside our lake. Areas which are difficult to access (for us) and which in the past they have simply blasted with pesticides.
    Hooray for goats - and an informative book about them.
    Thank you - and drat you. Almost all of your reviews make me itch to add to the groaning bookshelves here.

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  16. Es una buena aliada, para evitar la propagación de los incendios en el bosque. Gusta ver como busca el sustento en la Naturaleza.

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  17. It seems to be a very interesting book, a short time ago I saw the evolution of goats and their domestication on a YouTube channel. Thank you for sharing this review, I'll see if I can get it

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  18. Down here in Texas, or in other parts of the West for that matter, you'll sometimes see bumper stickers that say, "Goat Ropers Need Love, Too!" "Goat roper" sometimes refers to the dude who has the hat and the pickup, but who wouldn't know one end of a horse from the other. But a goat roper also can be someone -- especially a youngster -- who participates in actual goat roping: a sport that's been around as long as there have been kids needing to hone their roping skills, and goats to serve as less dangerous targets than a steer. You might get a kick out of this article. Team goat roping is great fun to watch: it doesn't harm the goats, and it certainly builds confidence in the kids.

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  19. Good night, dear friend! sabes? where i live, here in the forest with other fairies and little elves, the funny little goats are not very well received because one day, one of them fought with a unicorn and scared my friends, the butterflies, not to mention that she also urinated on another fairy friend of mine! it was crazy that day, she drank all the tea and ran to the frogs! everyone was in an uproar in the magical forest.

    Now seriously, thank you for recommending this wonderful book. I love goats, i love them I would like to have one 🐐🐐🐐🐐🐐🐐 Have a beautiful day, greetings!

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  20. A friend of ours once had a goat that "showed affection" for me - I was not impressed!!

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  21. Hi David.Ohh yes we have many goats here in west Norway but we keep them on the mountains their natural place..insted we have allthe deers that comes and eat our plants in the garden and graveyards..they loove flowers..The goats I know are very cute and always look in my pocket for some snack.Good book you show us😊

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  22. Note to self: social distancing with goats and question if that ram has negative intentions.

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  23. Hi David lots of information there that i didnt know about goats,all very interesting,thankyou for sharing this with us,take care,cheers

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  24. Goats are handy creatures, but then all creatures are handy.
    Sounds like a good book.

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  25. Kozy są intrygujące! Zwłaszcza ich wzrok i budowa oczu! fajnie, że ktoś napisał o nich książkę. To może być miły prezent dla farmera lub miłośnika zwierząt.

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  26. On the whole I think I'd rather not be the object of a goat's affection. I grew up in a village where many households kept a goat for milk, they would be tethered at intervals along the village road and kept the verges trimmed nicely.

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  27. Hi David - I love the goats in their towers and clambering up and down mountains - amazing animals ... but I'm happy not owning one. Sadly the one person I know who used to farm them has died in recent years ... so I can't tempt her with this. Must be fun to look through though - take care and have a good weekend - Hilary

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  28. An interesting and informative review. Once I accompanied our granddaughters to a petting zoo and a goat bit my nylon hiking trousers (and almost my skin!), tearing them down from pocket to knee. Very drafty! I had to bade a hasty retreat. It is now part of the family legend.

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  29. From your review, it would appear to be a fascinating book, David. Did we see the feral goats in Strathdearn when we were together in Scotland? I don't remember, but I do see them about 50% of the time I visit that place.

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  30. Neither Miriam nor I recall feral goats, Richard, so I am pretty sure we did not see them. I recall clearly, however, those wonderful highland cattle.

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  31. Hello, David
    Great review and book. I loved seeing the wild goats in the western USA and we have farms nearby that keep goats. They are great at mowing the lawns. Thank you for linking up your post. Enjoy your day, have a happy weekend. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

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  32. Beautiful book David, the Goats chewing grass, love them.

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  33. I have always wanted pet goats :)

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  34. Years ago, in the mts of NC we came upon a goat in the woods. We couldn't figure out what wild animal was ahead of us and then figured out it was a goat. It probably wasn't wild but it gave us a scare! Good review on this book. Happy weekend!

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  35. Hi David, I am home from holiday. I think that book is very interesting. I saw these wild goats in Denmark. Greetings Caroline

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  36. Many thanks for this book review.

    All the best Jan

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  37. I'm very fond of goats - we had some as pets when I was growing up - but there's no doubt that feral goats cause terrible damage. They certainly have here in Australia where there's a continual battle to contain them in some parts of the country.

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  38. You're right, goats have been linked to humans more than we think. This book is very interesting, it can provide us with valuable information and another way of seeing these animals.
    Many kisses!

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  39. Thank you David for this review of this book. One thing I know is that I love Goat cheese ;)
    Regards,
    Roos

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  40. interesting to know that goats have their own way to show their affection to human being....
    Thank you for sharing your well written review and full of info...

    Have a great weekend

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  41. What an amazing review my friend David! I learned so much about goats just from your review and how they show affection a bit differently than how humans do haha thank you for that warning! happy new Week David!

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  42. There are some goats down the road from us, I am sure from their behaviour on the other side of the fence if they could kill me they would!! Keep safe Diane

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  43. Me parece un libro muy interesante. Me gustan las cabras son muy bonitas, aunque tengo una cicatriz encima de la ceja, que me la hizo una bebe ( chivito ) Muchos besos.

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