MV Blog


Five things about goats

by Dr Andi
Publish date
6 March 2012
Comments (8)

Like many organisations, MV has an internal website where staff can post information and notices about various things. Recently I saw this wonderful posting on the museum's intranet:

Anyone want a free goat?

I need to find a good home for my pet goat Sebastian. He is a 7yr old desexed male Toggenburg with horns.

He loves to go jogging, nibble on the neighbours' roses, sleep all day & then bleat & bash things in the evening. He'd make a great pet. Not suitable for small children.

Sebastian the goat Hi, I am Sebastian the Goat, and I have my own Facebook page.
Image: Shane Hughes
Source: Shane Hughes

I would love to go jogging with Sebastian and watch his evening Hulk moments, but alas, my flat's balcony is too small for even my pot plants. But it did get me thinking that goats are amazing animals. Here are five reasons why.


1. You can eat them, drink them, wear them... and wash, and knit with them.

Evidence suggests goats were domesticated in Eastern Turkey around 10,000 years ago. They were kept for their meat, their hide, milk and wool. Think luxurious cashmere, smooth goat's cheese, and gentle goat's milk soap.

I found some stylish kid (young goat) leather shoes in the MV collection. No doubt the collection managers handle them with kid gloves: figuratively and perhaps literally speaking.

blue women's shoes Pair of shoes, blue kid leather with Louis heel, circa 1905-1910. (SH 880814.)
Source: Museum Victoria


2. You can take a goat ride or use a goat freight service.

Historical images from the MV collection show harnessed goats at work and at play.

lantern slide of man and goats Lantern slide labelled ‘Old Ned and goats, hands blown off’. (MM 034986)
Source: Museum Victoria

boys with goat and cart Glass negative, circa 1900.
Image: A.J. Campbell
Source: Museum Victoria


3. Mythology combines goats with humans to become devilishly naughty characters.

Mythological depictions of the half-human, half-goat are often naughty types. Among the Greek gods was Pan the faun who was into partying with nymphs. Puck was mischievous fairy from English folklore. On the other hand, Satyrs, which are human-like beasts with goat bits, were often evil creatures.

This faun from the collection is a horse brass , which is a decoration, souvenir or amulet hung on a horse's harness. This faun appears to be seated in a lotus position!

Horse brass with faun motif Horse Brass - Faun, 1825-1939 (ST 034497)
Source: Museum Victoria


4. Goats are great for playtime.

People often kept goats to keep the grass down and for a bit of milk. That's why Mitzy the goat (pictured below) lived at Janet's place in Springvale in 1957.

Girl playing with a goat in a field, Girl Playing with Goat, in Field, Springvale South, 1957MM 110927).
Source: Museum Victoria

I remember as a kid I used to love to play jacks; mine were coloured plastic. I remember being quite grossed out when I learnt that real jacks were actually knuckle bones from a sheep or a goat.

goat knuckle bones Knuckle bones found during the Casselden Place archaeological dig, circa 1880 (LL 32184 2)
Source: Museum Victoria


5. Goats are not only sure-footed rock climbers but you can take them jogging.

billy goat flick book Flick book with a climbing billy goat by 'Cinematograph Living Pictures', circa 1920 (HT 25043.
Source: Museum Victoria

Flick books were a popular optical toys created in the 19th century. See our goat-inspired flick book in action in this video:


Sebastian the Goat's present owner Shane says Sebastian enjoys a bit of a jog and meeting new people. We wish him all the best in becoming an 'old goat' in his new home.

Cheers and bleats, Dr Andi

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