by Kathleen Callaghan Mendenhall
I love writing children’s books about my goats and dogs. However, it wasn’t always that way. I have a very silly nature. But, the silliness didn’t fit into my lifestyle as a successful urban secretary. Silliness isn’t like a spigot that turns on and off, so I turned the silly spigot off for a long time.
A few years ago my husband and I moved to the Sierra foothills and purchased a few acres of land. As is usually the case with the land fantasy, the animal fantasy soon followed. We purchased a couple of funny looking retired goats. I had never had a pet of my own (okay, does a lizard count?), and I wasn’t particularly fond of animals. Yes, I would pet the dogs and cats of friends, but I never really got to know the animals. They were just little fur sacks that got my clothes dirty.
So imagine me with my two new goat charges. I looked at them and asked, “What do you do?” They looked back at me and asked, “What do YOU do?!” These weren’t the cute little goats I had always seen in nursery rhymes. These were the kind of goats that you see on cave paintings. After a few days they started eating their share of grass and we supplemented their foraging with hay.
I would see them trying to stick their boney necks through the fence to get to the great blackberry bushes and other delectable treats. I thought I would just help out and chop some brush treats for them. Oh, was I rewarded by the sparkle and gleam of gratitude in their eyes. I thought “Imagine! All of my life I have tried giving often unappreciated gifts to friends and family and here I can pull a weed and I became the queen of everything!”
That did it. I fell in love and I think, in their way, they loved me.
Over the last eight years we have had our share of loss as we acquired a family of goat mamas, babies, grannies, and the dogs who guard them. I have never felt such depth of love and caring as I now have for my husband and for these animals.
I never had the opportunity to have children, but having these animals has given me a second chance to learn about love, caring, letting go in death, and the beauty of birth. Over the years our bond has grown and I am now considered part of the herd. My husband and I share the love of these wonderful creatures.
Now back to my silly nature. While my husband enjoyed me singing my silly songs and dances, the world looks askance upon a skipping 62-year-old. I started wondering “How can I use my gift of silliness with the stories that come to me from the goats?” My first venture into book-dom was driving down the road and hearing the rhyming story of Moo Moo Sue emerging from my lips.
I have often thought I wanted to make a difference. I am not a teacher, a scientist, a mother, doctor, or even a parent. How can I make a difference? Then these wonderful stories came rolling out of me with their moral messages and teaching about ways we can be kinder to one another.
I hope that these books will put a big smile on the face of a child, and on the faces of mom and dad as well.
Kathleen is the author of Giggling Goats & Buddy Too. For more information visit imgoatie.com