Katie loved goats. Her bedroom was full of every kind of goat imaginable, except for the sort she wanted most of all. Katie longed for a real goat of her very own.
Katie and her dad loved to spend hours lying in the grass looking at the cloud shapes in the sky. Her dad always found lots of silly creatures living in the clouds, but Katie only ever saw goats.
Every year, when her mum and dad asked her what she would like for her birthday or for Christmas, Katie always said, “I’d like a goat, please.” And every year, her parents would sigh and say, “But we live in the city and the city is no place for a goat to live.”
So Katie spent a lot of time dreaming about goats and wishing for a fairy Godmother who would magic her up a goat of her own. When she wasn’t doing that, she pretended to be a goat. She drove her mum mad, galloping around the house, bleating and butting things.
But it just wasn’t the same as having a REAL goat to play with.
Then one day, Katie’s parents told her that they were moving to a new house in the country. Katie was so excited! Hurray, she thought. Now I’ll be able to have a goat! But her mother and father frowned. They muttered about costs and the responsibility of looking after a goat, and refused to make any promises.
It was nice in the country. Katie’s mum grew fresh veggies. Katie’s dad made a tyre swing in the big tree. A creek ran through their backyard, full of yabbies and tadpoles. But Katie still did not have a goat.
On the morning of Katie’s birthday, Katie was sullen. Of course, she had asked for a goat as usual, but she supposed she wouldn’t get one. But Katie got a very big surprise. Her mum and dad were waiting for her on the verandah, and between them was a small brown and white goat with cute floppy ears!
Her dad said he hoped the goat would make a good lawnmower – he was sick of cutting all the grass. Her mum said, quite firmly, that it was Katie’s responsibility to look after him. But Katie was hardly listening. She was over the moon! At last she had her very own goat! She decided to name him Gilligan.
Gilligan followed her like a puppy. Everywhere Katie went, Gilligan bounded along behind her, bleating and bouncing, his ears flopping all over the place. Every morning at 6am, Gilligan woke the whole family up, bashing on Katie’s bedroom door and bleating his head off, until Katie came out to play with him.
Katie thought he was gorgeous. They quickly became best friends.
There was lots of grass, so for a while Gilligan happily ate up all the grass for them. Katie’s dad was happy because he didn’t have to push the lawnmower around anymore. But goat’s don’t just eat grass. And one day, Gilligan got bored with it.
Katie’s mum came home to find him standing in the middle of the veggie patch, a lettuce leaf dangling from his mouth. There was not a single plant left in the ground. She was furious! Katie thought it was hilarious. Gilligan looked surprised. After all, he’d just discovered how tasty veggies were.
Soon Gilligan developed a taste for lots of new things. He ate the leaves off all the trees, the flowers off all the shrubs, the dog food and the cat food, Katie’s brothers socks, Katie’s dads shoes, plant pots, garden twine and cardboard boxes.
One day, he ate all the clothes off the line, including Katie’s favourite jeans. This time, Katie didn’t think it was funny at all. Katie was furious! Gilligan followed Katie around as usual and tried to get her attention. He bleated and he bounced, he galloped and he flounced. But Katie refused to play with him.
Poor Gilligan. He was bored. He couldn’t understand why Katie wouldn’t play with him. He tried Katie’s brother, but he was having a nap. He tried Katie’s mum, but she was too busy. He tried Katie’s dad, but he was mowing the lawn.
Poor Gilligan. He was hungry again, so he wandered off in search of some food. After he’d eaten the cushions off the outdoor furniture, all the pegs in the peg bucket beneath the clothesline and the tyres off the car, he didn’t feel very well and decided to lay down for a sleep.
When Katie’s dad saw the car, he roared so loudly that he woke Gilligan up with a start. Katie’s dad was very, VERY angry. “THAT’S IT! That goat has to go,” he declared. “Before he decides to eat the house.” But Katie cried and begged him not to take Gilligan away.
So Katie’s dad turned the shed into a goat house. He put a pile of straw on the floor, gave Gilligan a bucket of water and shut him inside. But Gilligan didn’t like it in the shed. It was small and dark and stuffy. He sat down sadly on the straw and started to chew at it, as a big tear rolled slowly down his cheek.
Poor Katie was very upset. Looking after a goat was much harder than she’d thought. Gilligan never stopped eating, and he’d eat anything! But he was so cute and she felt awful being mad with him. And she felt even worse now that her Dad was making her keep him in the shed. What a disaster! There must be SOMETHING she could do to help make everyone happy again. She pulled out her goat books and began to read.
The next morning at 6am, Gilligan was bashing on her door, bleating his head off! Gilligan had eaten a ragged, Gilligan-shaped hole in the shed wall and escaped. Everybody just stood and stared. Katie hung her head. She was sure her dad would take Gilligan away this time.
But instead, Katie’s dad burst out laughing! He laughed and he laughed. He laughed so hard that soon tears were streaming down his face. Then everyone started laughing. Gilligan wasn’t sure why everyone was laughing, but he bounced around happily anyway.
“Dad?”, asked Katie. “I think I know what will make Gilligan happy. Will you please help me?” All day, Katie and her Dad hammered and sawed and drilled until at last they were finished.
Now Gilligan has his very own goat-proof paddock, with a cosy little stable in one corner. He has lots of grass to eat and every day, Katie brings him a bag of hay, kitchen scraps and veggies from the garden. But the best thing of all is Gilligan’s new friend, Gemima.
And everyone is happy again. Especially Katie.
© Bea Pierce, 2006