“Hi, boys! Are you guys waiting for me?” I had no idea how I was gonna catch these goats. “Go ahead! Get in my car. Get in there!” They were close to 200 pounds each, completely feral, and they were running out of time. “Let’s go home today. Come on!” I didn’t know how I was gonna get them home with me, but I knew I wasn’t gonna give up, so I decided to go ahead and give them names, and decided on Bear and Rocco. Last winter, I received a message from a woman named Lisa about two goats that were in desperate need of rescue. The old dairy barn had no roof, and it was extremely dangerous because as you walked through it, you could easily fall through the floor. I walked upstairs and found an attic, and on the floor there were several inches of goat poop, so it was obvious that that’s where these two had been living. An organization had taken over the property and they wanted the goats gone, one way or another. “Come get a treat!” I knew that the first step was to gain their trust. Bear and Rocco had zero interest in hay. They hadn’t had hay in years! So every day, I drove out to the property and brought them berries and carrots and apples. I brought them chips. Tostitos and Fritos were their favorite. “Hi, you want some?” I brought them buckets of steaming hot water because the stream was freezing over. “Is that good?” After a few days, Bear and Rocco started to trust me. They would very timidly walk up and take a chip out of my hand. “Me and my boys.” But as soon as I flinched, they would take off running. “Oh, it’s okay!” But they started to figure out our routine. “Are you waiting for me?” Bear and Rocco started waiting for Lisa and I. They knew that every afternoon, somebody was coming with a bucket of treats for them, and even ran to us to eat out of our hands. “You love Fritos!” But as soon as we would reach out to touch one of them, they took off running. It didn’t take us long to realize that there was no way we were gonna get these goats to trust us enough to follow us on to a trailer. “Come get in my trailer. Let’s go home.” We decided to start putting the food in the back of the trailer to coax them in, and hoped that they would both go into the trailer one day, and we could close them in. “It’s so nice and warm in there! There’s food, water. Come on!” Bear and Rocco were way too smart for us, and it’s almost like they knew what we were trying to do. They would wait for us to leave to go onto the trailer. One would go in and eat while the other would stand guard. We even put up trail cams so that we could see if they ever went in at the same time, even in the middle of the night, and they never did. “Hi babies!” Almost a month had passed, and I had gone every single day with food to bond with Bear and Rocco. I started to realize it could take months to get Bear and Rocco onto the trailer, but we didn’t have months, so I had to come up with a new plan. It’s very common to tranquilize wildlife or feral animals to either relocate them or to perform medical procedures, and I wondered if that was an option for Bear and Rocco. After consulting with two veterinarians, they both agreed to help me tranquilize and relocate them. Obviously this is something I would never consider doing on my own. I was a nervous wreck thinking of everything that could possibly go wrong, but the vet who tranquilized them had done this thousands of times, and everything went perfectly. After almost a month of going to that farm every single day, I couldn’t believe that I was actually driving home with Bear and Rocco. I felt like I was holding my breath the whole way home. I knew that we had to take things very slow with Bear and Rocco. They had been on their own for several years, and this was a huge adjustment. They were definitely scared at first. Although Bear and Rocco couldn’t interact with the other goats, they could see them, and I think watching the other goats get excited about eating hay helped them learn to eat hay again. After Bear and Rocco seemed to have settled in and they were cleared by our vet, we started to bring them into the aisle of our barn and introduce them to the other big goats one at a time, and then two at a time, and then a group at a time. And they LOVED it. It had been so long since Bear and Rocco had seen other goats. We’re not sure of what their life was like before they were dropped at the old dairy barn, but it was obvious that they loved making new friends and they enjoyed being part of a herd. “You’re so friendly now!” A few weeks passed before Bear and Rocco were able to go outside. I wanted them to feel completely settled because they’re big boys, and if they really wanted to leave, I knew they would just jump the fence and leave. When we finally did let them outside with the rest of their new herd, they didn’t want to leave. They were happy. And I think, for the first time, they actually felt safe. Bear and Rocco have settled in and become part of the herd. I love seeing them finally being able to let their guard down. “Does that feel good?” They will never have to search for shelter, warmth, food or water ever again, and seeing them climbing the playground and laying in the sun with all their new friends makes all of the work so worth it.