Heather Cramer’s recent houseguest has moved on to greener pastures. Literally.
For one week, Cramer and her boyfriend, William Burts, played host to a pygmy goat, after he stumbled into their lives unexpectedly.
On Jan. 9, Burts, 23, was driving in Brooker, Fla., when he saw a goat dodging traffic.
He honked to scare it out of the road, then pulled over to take a picture of it for Cramer. Eventually, he loaded it into his truck and drove to ask nearby residents if they had lost a goat.
No one claimed it.
Burts tried twice to leave him where he’d be out of the way of traffic. But the goat, who Cramer and Burts later named Goat Tea, jumped right back into the truck. Burts thought it safest to bring him home. But not before running it past his girlfriend.
“You know how you’ve always wanted a dog,” Burts asked Cramer over the phone. “Well, how do you feel about goats?”
Cramer was silent on the other end of the line for a moment before she realized Burts was serious.
Goat Tea moved into Cramer’s 1,600-square-foot-home in Citrus Springs with a quarter-acre of land and no fence.
“Everyone thought I was crazy,” she said.
The first couple of nights, he cried until Cramer, 20, or Burts came to sit with him, sometimes falling asleep alongside their new houseguest.
By the third day, Cramer knew leaving the TV on at night would quiet Goat Tea. She read online he should like noise.
Every morning before she left for work, Cramer hooked a leash to the chubby, black goat’s red collar that they had bought for him, and walked him outside so he could graze around.
While at work, she left him in the kitchen behind a baby gate with low-protein hay and water. Her bosses laughed when she told them, and they let her leave early to make sure her house wasn’t destroyed.
Cramer came home to Goat Tea on the couch with her two cats. Goats are always climbing and jumping, Cramer explained, so she was not very surprised to find him out of the kitchen.
Goats relieve themselves a few times every hour, though. That was the most frustrating part about having Goat Tea in her living room, she said.
Feces were everywhere.
Cramer said they were similar to rabbit droppings, which are usually pellet sized, but they didn’t stain or smell.
“I light a lot of candles around my house, so that might have helped,” she added.
The only time the house smelled was when he decided to play in the cats’ litter box and tracked the contents through her house, she said.
She said Goat Tea was sweet and playful, not what she expected from a goat. She wanted to put up a fence and keep him, so she looked into zoning regulations.
“I don’t know if it would have been different because he’s domesticated,” Cramer said. “You’re not supposed to have any animals to breed, use for meat or sell. But either way, he’s a farm animal.”
She also found while researching online that pygmy goats are herd animals. She would have needed at least two.
“I wasn’t ready to get two goats for my back yard,” she chuckled.
Cramer reached out to her former agriculture teacher at Lecanto High School, Steven Richardson, and asked if he knew anyone looking for a goat.
With his help, they found a more suitable home for Goat Tea.
Richardson had a student whose family was interested in pygmy goats. The family has plenty of land and are even building a play area with slides and ladders for its goats, Cramer said.
“Knowing that he was inside of a house and now he’s going to be spoiled in his new home [is] probably the coolest part,” she said. “I couldn’t have found a better home for him.”