I was discussing goats with a friend of mine recently. We were talking about how goats dream and what they dream about. To be honest, it was less a discussion than a discourse because I was the only one talking and my friend seemed pretty anxious to get away. I get that a lot.

I blame it on the narrow-mindedness of the general public where it comes to dealing with goats generally and interpreting goat dreams specifically.

“Goats don't dream” say the “professionals” who've got “degrees” from “universities” hanging on the walls of their ivory towers. These same “experts” will tell you that even if goats do dream, there's no way for us to know what they dream about because goats can't talk.

It's true. I've yet to meet a goat that could speak in a recognizable language. (I have met a goat who would do a better job calling play-by-play than Chris Collinsworth, but that's hardly a feat.) No, goats can't speak any recognizable tongue, but if you pay attention, goats can communicate.

Take this goat I once knew. To avoid embarrassing anyone, we'll call him Billy. Billy was a fine specimen. He weighed about 100 pounds, and he was the cock of the walk in his local farmyard. I got to know him when he ate one of my shoes. When I confronted him about it, he listened to me for about five minutes. He waited for me to stop and then gave a shake of his chinny-chin-chin, and without saying a word other than “BLEAAEAAAAAT,” he told me clearly that I could go fornicate with myself and/or my mother. He went on, through another significant look, to tell me that if I didn't get out of his sight immediately, he'd eat my other shoe, this time with my foot inside it.

This was a revelation to me. I'd learned that goats could communicate, and it didn't take long for me to start a therapy program where local goats could tell me about their dreams, and I could help them work through issues that plagued their daily lives. The first six months were difficult. Most people who own goats don't take kindly to someone trying to dig up repressed goat-memories. I have been banned from all local petting zoos, and apparently there is a picture of me posted on the website of the local goat owners association.

Despite these setbacks, I was determined to communicate further with Billy. I returned to the farm where he lived a half-dozen times, and on each occasion I was met with hostility. Not from the owners of the farm – I was clever enough to only visit during the early hours of the morning, between 2 and 3 a.m. – but from Billy himself. It's as though he didn't want to be roused from sleep to talk about his dreams. It took months, but finally I had a chance to speak to Billy when he was in a mood to unburden himself. Chewing on a Budweiser can discarded by one of the farm's owners, Billy told me that he dreamed often. “Yes, Robert, I dream,” he said. “I dream of trolls and bridges mostly. Occasionally I dream of winning the Powerball lottery, and sometimes I'm in the seventh grade and there's a test but I didn't study and all of a sudden I notice I'm naked and all of the kids in the class are staring at me.”

What's most curious about Billy's dreams is that they tended to match mine almost exactly. I decided that much more extensive study was necessary, but when I told Billy, he reacted poorly.

They say being kicked by a horse is a pain you'll always remember. I can't speak to that, but I can say that being butted in the ass by a 100-pound goat is not something I'll soon forget. I trusted that goat, trusted him enough to turn around and bend over when he asked me, “Hey, did you drop that $50 bill that's on the ground right behind you?”

I think about Billy now and again. Mostly I wonder whether I under-seasoned the roast I made of his hind legs.


Pressure Cooker Goat Shoulder

3- to 5-pound goat shoulder roast, trimmed of excess fat

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

2 stalks celery, minced

1 medium onion, minced

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken, veal or beef stock



Season the roast with salt and pepper, and dust with flour. Heat a pressure cooker on high, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and brown the roast on all sides. Remove the goat to a baking dish, and add the celery and onion. Cook on medium-low heat for around 10 minutes, or until the vegetables soften, and then add the garlic, and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the wine and stock, and then return the meat to the pot, and cover per the manufacturer's directions. Once the cooker comes up to pressure, lower the heat, and cook for an hour. De-pressurize the cooker, and check the meat; it should be falling apart by now. Remove the meat carefully to the baking dish, and reduce the liquid in the pot if necessary. Put the sauce through a food mill, or use a rubber spatula to push it through a sieve. I like to serve the meat over polenta with a side of spicy-stewed broccoli raab, but just about any starch/vegetable combination will do.