The Goats’ Journey
by Sophia Rotoli, age 11
My name is Starbeam. I am an Angora goat. I live with my mother, Moonleaf, and I have one brother, named Clover. We live in a small patch of forest in the middle of nowhere. My father left us when Clover and I were just kids. Mother doesn’t speak of him much even when we ask her a direct question like: “Mother, what is Father’s name?” sometimes Clover and I would ask.
Her only answer would be, “There is no need to know his name. All you need to know is that he was your father, and he was a fine goat.”
So, Clover and I just got used to not asking Mom about him. Our daily schedule goes something like this: clean bedding, find food, nap, play, rest in the sun, find more food, repeat.
This morning while my family was finding food, we heard some peculiar sounds. I asked my mother, “Mom what’s that annoying and hideous racket?”
“Why I wouldn’t know dear. Clover, would you like to take a guess?” she asked.
“I think it’s an elephant!” Clover exclaimed.
“Now Clover, dear, elephants don’t live here, and the sound is too loud to be an elephant,” was her response.
“I think that it’s those horrible Little-Hairs,” I said for my guess.
Clover tends to have a large imagination, especially about elephants. This is because Mom told him all about them one rainy day when we were kids. That same day she told me about the Little-Hairs. They are large, hideous, savage beasts. With only a little hair on their face. She said that they use goats for roping and riding. They are every goat’s nightmares.
“Can Clover and I go explore the noise? This will prove who’s right about the noise,” I said simply.
“Alright, but no going past Ant Lane. You know I don’t like it past there,” she said as she gave us the “don’t you dare disobey me” look.
As Clover and I made our way over to the racket we saw bright colors that are much brighter than any berries, even Blood Moon berries, and trust me those are bright.
“C-Clover, what is that?” I stammered.
“I don’t know, perhaps some of those horrible Little-Hairs you were talking about,” said Clover.
“Yeah, you’re probably right, but we should check it out though. They might be in the bright bugs.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure,” I said.
After that we didn’t talk much. All you could hear was the soft clip-clop of our hooves and the giant, loud bugs. Finally, we got close enough to see the creatures. They were Little-Hairs. I didn’t know what to do so then I just blanked out. All of a sudden one of them spotted us and started to run after us. I went one way toward Ant Lane, while Clover went toward the Little-Hairs.
“Clover!” I screamed.
He didn’t hear me over the racket. As I start to run away from the Little-Hairs, I had a very sure feeling that Clover wouldn’t survive the Little-Hairs. Before I know it, I’m in the middle of a moorland. My hooves must’ve carried me here without me realizing it. Mother had never taken us here; then again, she did say that she didn’t like it past Ant Lane.
While I was sleeping that night, I had a dream that Clover was very ill, and two much larger goats than us were caring for him. I woke up very startled, and I just knew that he was alive. Day after day I searched for Clover. There was a tinier and tinier small flicker of hope in my belly that Clover was alive, but not healthy.
The next day, When I decided to set out again, I suddenly found hoof prints that looked just like Clover’s. “Could it really be Clover’s?” I kept asking myself. As I followed the prints they led to a small shallow dip in the ground. In the dip there was a lump of curly fur. This had to be Clover. As I prodded the lump, it moaned. Clover seemed to be sick. So, I let him rest for the rest of the day as I scavenged for food.
The next day we started to travel to what seemed like a good way to travel if it means getting away from the Little-Hairs. On the way we found two female goats called Leaf and Shadow. They were making a group called “The Grove” where they care for travelers and teach outsiders how to survive with helpful hints. These goats were much bigger than Mom. Shadow was pitch black, while Leaf was black and brown. They claimed to be Alpine goats. They showed us a very nice sheltered part of a forest with a clean pool of water, and leaves they called herbs that could treat my poor brother’s illness with.
“Hey Starbeam, Leaf and I have been wondering if you might consider living in the forest with us? After all the terrible things you’ve told us about, like the Little-Hairs you’ve told us about,” asked Shadow.
“I think that would be great, but I’ll have to find my mom and bring her here. She’ll be worried sick about Clover and I. Hey, do you guys know that small patch of forest in the middle of nowhere?” I asked
“Of course, we know that place. We have done a lot of traveling in our days. It’s right through this forest around the moorland and over Ant Lane,” Leaf told me
“Thanks. I’ll must leave right away. I should be back in a few days at the most,” I told them.
As soon as I reached my mom the next day, she rushed over to me and started whispering in her very angry, but sad voice. “I waited for hours and hours for you and Clover.” She paused for a second. “You never returned so I started to worry. I waited day after day hoping for you guys to return. Then you finally come after a whole week!” she exclaimed.
“I know, I know. Clover and I got a little too close…”
“‘A little close,’” she said as she gave me the “seriously” look.
“Okay a lot close. Then a bright red bug thing came toward us and next thing I know we’ve been separated and I find Clover sick and in a divot. Finally, we found The Grove who have been caring for Clover and getting him well. Then Shadow and Leaf asked us to join their group.” I told her finally.
“Alright I’ll put some thought into joining The Grove, but we are to leave right now to go to Clover and protect him. After we find him, we will decide what we want,” she responded.
“That’s fine by me,” I told her.
All through that day and night we traveled back the way I’d come. We ran into a few foxes and dogs, but we made it past simply. Finally, the next day we reached Shadow’s and Leaf’s home. As we started to enter a new goat I haven’t seen before came out. He was a full-grown buck with amber eyes, tan fur, and a long thin black stripe down his back.
“Hello, and welcome to The Grove. My name is Pine. Let me take you to Leaf and Shadow,” Pine told us formally.
“No thanks. I know the way. My brother Clover has been staying here, and besides they already know us,” I told him.
“Suit yourself,” he told us.
As we entered the camp it was much different than before. There were more sleeping places than before and there were more goats than before. Finally, I spotted Shadow and Leaf at the edge of the camp.
“Starbeam! You made it back, and with your mother!” Leaf exclaimed.
“Hello. You must be The Grove’s leaders. My name is Moonleaf. I am mother to Starbeam and Clover. I hope you have been taking good care of my dear Clover,” she told them.
“Why of course.” Shadow told us, “We treat everyone like family. And in fact, Clover is feeling well again,” she said.
“In that case Starbeam, Clover, and I will join your group, as long as that’s okay with you,” Mother decided suddenly.
“Why of course you can,” said Leaf as I spotted Clover.
“What are you talking about?” asked Clover.
“Clover, Mother decided that we are going to live in The Grove,” I told him.
“Yay!” exclaimed Clover.
Life went on as always except it was more orderly than before, and it was less simple. We all learned how to heal each other and treated all goats as family. Goats came and goats left but life went on and being a part of The Grove was a perfect fit for my family.
Originally published in the May/June 2020 issue of Goat Journal.