What I Learned About Life From Buying a Goat on Craigslist

One goat became two, then a whole farm, then a crash course in what really matters

Ryan Holiday
Forge
Published in
5 min readOct 5, 2019

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A goat peers over a patch of grass.
Photo: Hetty Stellingwerf/Unsplash

ItIt started innocuously enough, as many modern tales do, with a Craigslist posting. Boredom and whimsy — that’s how my wife and I ended up driving home from Seguin, Texas, with a tiny Nigerian dwarf goat in the front seat of the car. We named her Bucket, and she lived — quite illegally, we would later learn — tucked behind the fence that surrounded our house in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of East Austin.

Very soon afterward, we got a second goat, Biscuit, having been told that goats get lonely by themselves. It was a sales pitch I am apparently quite susceptible to as it explains the two (human) boys currently taking a nap in the next room.

Within a year of buying the goats, we’d have a 17-acre ranch outside Austin. By the year after that, we’d own another 25 acres, a small herd of cows, two donkeys, geese, chickens, and a lake full of fish, in addition to the wild turkeys, boars, and foxes that roamed our property. We didn’t know it but in buying that goat we were being pulled by what Kimbal Musk, the brother of Elon Musk, has recently called the “extraordinary demand and desire to be a farmer amongst the younger generation.”

Among our friends, to our surprise, disbelief wasn’t the most common response when we said we’d gotten a farm. Instead, almost everyone said it had always been a dream of theirs, too.

Maybe we shouldn’t have been so surprised: There are quite a few reports that show more and more young people are choosing a rural life. According to the Census of Agriculture, released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture every five years, the number of farms with principal producers under the age of 35 climbed from 55,394 in 2012 to 182,415 in 2017 — an increase of 229%.

It certainly hadn’t always been a dream of mine, though. I grew up in Sacramento, booing Lakers coach Phil Jackson at Kings games for describing our city as “cow town.” For college, I moved to Southern California and then straight to downtown Los Angeles for my first real job. Later, as a writer, I lived in New Orleans, whose Southern charm I loved, and New York, whose metropolitan…

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Ryan Holiday
Forge
Writer for

Bestselling author of ‘Conspiracy,’ ‘Ego is the Enemy’ & ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’ http://amzn.to/24qKRWR