Four new kids arrived at Morning Star Boys’ Ranch on July 1. But unlike the 18 boys living there, these kids don’t get a private room. Instead, they are staying in a building out back with their mother, Angelina.
Last week Angelina, a Nubian/Boer goat, rested in the shade while her four rambunctious, if a bit wobbly, sons huddled together in a nearby shed.
Gina Pebles, director of the 4-H Club program at the ranch, said it’s unusual for goats to have such a large litter and even more uncommon for them to be all boys. “Last year she had twins. She’s a very good mom.”
A couple of boys helped Pebles round up the new arrivals for a photo. “This is a fun project for the boys,” she said. “They learn to care for something that relies on them completely for food, shelter and attention.”
Two of the goat kids are brown and the other two are a black and white mixture. The ranch is asking community members to help name them. Ron Irwin, communications director said, “If folks would go to our Facebook page and suggest up to four names; a committee of boys from the ranch will choose from those suggestions in the next week or two.”
A resident gently cradled one of the babies in the shade of the goat pen while the other three nosed among the straw. “They’re herd creatures – they like the attention,” Pebles said.
One 12-year-old resident enjoys the time he gets to spend with the goats. At Morning Star’s request, his name is not being used.
“I can sit with them awhile and just hold them,” he said. “They know what you’re feeling and just come up to you.”
He’s loath to play favorites, but confessed to a special affinity with one of the babies. “The brown one with the white spot,” he said. “He likes exploring. He’s the most adventurous of them.”
In addition to goats, the ranch has horses, chickens, a dog and a barn cat named Fluffy. All of the residents participate in 4-H, and Irwin said the therapeutic riding program has been especially beneficial.
The 12-year-old’s eyes sparkled when he talked about the horses. “I like riding,” he said. “Horses are another animal that recognizes when you’re feeling upset.”
But he truly enjoys caring for the goats. When asked how much time he’d like to spend with them he said, “All day if I could!”
Along with caring for the newborns, he’s helping get Angelina’s daughter Oreo ready to show at the Spokane County Interstate Fair. Last year the pair won Reserve Grand Champion for doelings.
Residents and staff expressed delight at the additions to their growing goat herd.
Pebles said, “Some of our boys struggle with talking about feelings and emotions. They don’t have to talk to the goats, but they can still express emotion in the way they care for them.”