Pliny the Elder on Goats

Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23 – AD 79), better known as Pliny the Elder, was a naturalist and author as well as a naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire. During his lifetime he wrote many books, the most significant being a 37-volume encyclopedia called Naturalis Historia (Natural History) that survived into modern times. He mentions goats hundreds of times in this vast work and some of the tidbits, especially entries about medicines involving goat parts, are astounding.

Note: It was not good to be a goat in ancient Rome.

Cures for Babies

“The brain of a she-goat, passed through a golden ring, is given drop by drop by the Magi to babies, before they are fed with milk, to guard them from epilepsy and other diseases of babies. Restless babies, especially girls, are quietened by an amulet of goat’s dung wrapped in a piece of cloth…By rubbing the gums of infants with goats’ milk or hare’s brains, dentition is greatly facilitated.” Continue reading “Pliny the Elder on Goats”

Adopt a Donkey

If you’d like to have a donkey and also do a good deed, adopt one! Hundreds of donkeys waiting in rescues need homes and people to love them (people just like you).

Many people think animals in rescues are old, infirm, or second-rate survivors of abuse, but that’s not necessarily true.

It’s not unusual for responsible owners to surrender young, sound to rescues due to catastrophic life changes such as a death in the family, divorce, loss of income, or military deployment. They have to give up their animals quickly, but they don’t want their friends to go to bad homes or sale barns, so they do the right thing and donate them to a group to be re-homed. Continue reading “Adopt a Donkey”

Frozen in Time







The early 1900s ushered in the golden age of real picture postcards. According to U.S. Post Office figures, 677,777,798 postcards were mailed in 1909 alone. Not surprisingly, camera makers honed in on a need and began producing cameras like the 3A Folding Pocket Kodak Camera that shot real picture postcards instead of film. In 1903 such a camera fitted with a quality lens cost as much as $78 (that’s roughly $2000 today).

Affordable postcard-format cameras like the Chicago Ferrotype Company’s Mandel-ette postcard camera soon emerged. These were simple box cameras with fixed-focus lenses. In the back of the camera was a black changing bag through which the photographer moved an exposed paper negative to the built-in developer tank attached to the bottom of the camera. The best part was that in 1919 the Mandel-ette, complete with tripod and enough material for 116 postcards cost the grand sum of $7.75 ($173.81 in today’s funds). Itinerant photographers snapped them up and took to the road. Continue reading “Frozen in Time”

Sheep in World Mythology

The history of sheep is the history of the human race. Even before man (and woman, whose duty it probably was to breast-feed the first captive lambs, yes, really) domesticated sheep, he relied on wild ones for meat to fill his belly and hides to keep him warm. Little wonder it is that sheep played starring roles in myth and religion since time began.

The Navajo, whose word for sheep, dibeh, means “that by which we live”, say Changing Woman, daughter of First Boy and First Girl, created sheep out of white mist, white shell, turquoise, abalone shell, and jet.

Or consider the forgetful sheep in a tale told by Ohafia elders of Nigeria. Their supreme god, Chukwu, decided to tell the People that if they laid their dead on the ground and covered them with ashes, this would bring them back to life. He usually sent a dog with important messages but the dog was tired, so he sent a friendly sheep instead. The sheep forgot the message, but wanting to be helpful, he guessed. He told the People to bury the bodies of their dead. Chukwa later sent the dog with the correct information but the People believed the friendly sheep instead. Continue reading “Sheep in World Mythology”

38 things you should know before buying goats

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*Don’t get goats unless you know what you’re getting into. Goats are gentle, intelligent, sweet and loving but sometimes annoyingly independent, mischievous, determined, and frustrating. Meet some goats and talk to experienced goat owners before you commit. And don’t get goats unless you have a good sense of humor.

*Be aware going in that it’s possible to make money with goats, but don’t plan on it. If you raise commercial meat goats or top flight, registered dairy or meat goats, or you produce and market niche dairy products to a lot of customers—you might. Otherwise, probably not.

*Goats are social creatures. Don’t plan to buy one goat. Every goat needs a companion, preferably another goat. A single goat is lonely and sad and she’ll probably let you and your neighbors know it by screaming at the top of her lungs. The only exception would be a single bottle kid raised in the house with people, dogs, and other pets. But even a house-raised single needs companionship when and if he moves outdoors. Continue reading “38 things you should know before buying goats”

Out of the Mouths of Babes, or What is that thing in my horse’s afterbirth?!

Saunder’s Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary; Second Edition defines hippomanes (hih-poh-MAH-neez; from Greek, meaning “horse, crazy”) as a “small (up to 1.5” thick and 8” diameter), circular, flat smooth body found in allantoic fluids, esp. in mares and cows. Called foal’s bread or foal’s tongue. On cut section they are semi-solid, homoneous, amber-colored”.

Not all are amber-colored, though. Hippomanes (the plural of hippomanes is also hippomanes) range in color from chalky gray to yellowish to darkest brown. They are shaped like thick, oval pancakes–soft, spongy, and rubbery to touch. Hippomanes can be 4-6” long, 3-4” wide, and 1-1 1/2” thick. No two are alike; even twins’ hippomanes can be different sizes and different colors. Continue reading “Out of the Mouths of Babes, or What is that thing in my horse’s afterbirth?!”

Private Derby – Enlisted Sheep

Did you know that military units sometimes keep pets as mascots? Private Derby is the first of several sheep, goat, donkey, mule, and horse mascots I plan to blog about. He’s a member of the 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) in Derby, England. Private Derby is a Swaledale ram – the 31st Private Derby to date.

The 95th Derbyshire Regiment of Foot, forerunner of the 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment, acquired the first Private Derby in 1858 at the siege and capture of Kotah, in India, when the unit’s commanding officer spied a handsome fighting ram tethered in a temple yard. He requisitioned the ram, which then marched more than 3,000 miles with the regiment. During that time, the first Private Derby was undefeated in 33 matches against other fighting rams. At war’s end he was awarded an Indian Campaign Metal, the only British mascot to win one. He died in 1863. Continue reading “Private Derby – Enlisted Sheep”