You Can Be Successful Without Owning Goats

When I was a kid, all successful people went to college, because if you didn’t, you weren’t a success.

So, if success means that you own a boat, does it matter what the boat looks like? Shore Leave, original and signed limited edition print at Steve Henderson Fine Art, open edition print at Great Big Canvas

Whatever a success is.

I think it means that you bring home a chunky paycheck, replace your car every three years, make payments on a home with more bathrooms than bedrooms, and eat out three times a week.

My God, I’m a failure. I never felt like one.

I did graduate from college, which theoretically qualifies me for success-hood, but I majored in English and didn’t go on to become a famous journalist the way my high school teachers thought I would. I married a good man, had four fine children, and homeschooled them. We replace our car when it refuses to move another mile, have fewer bathrooms than daughters, and consider it eating out when we dine on the porch.

Oh, and I own goats. That’s never one of the standard qualifications for being a success, but I never, ever have to run to the grocery store to buy milk. Bill Gates couldn’t say that. Well, probably he could, since he probably never, every enters a grocery store for any reason but simply sends the housekeeper, but you know what I mean.

When you live in the country, the last thing you want to do is run to the store because you ran out of milk for the morning tea. Off the Grid, original oil painting by Steve Henderson

So what am I getting at?

We have a disturbing tendency, in American society, to define ourselves by what we do as opposed to who we are, by how much we make as opposed to how well we live, and we make our decisions accordingly.

And, being Americans who want it all and believe that this is achievable, we want to be rich and famous and important and knowledgeable and healthy and wrinkle free and contented and loved by our dog (loved by our cat never comes into the equation, no matter who or what we are).

And unfortunately, when we realize that we can’t, we’re frequently fine with dropping the “contented” and being loved by our dog part. The money and accolades received by other humans are so vital to the definition of success, that we can be unhappy happy people because we simply don’t realize the value of what we do have.

This is where the goats come in.

The other evening when I was milking them, I became conscious that, for the last 20 minutes, I had been non-stop singing, in rhythm with the motion of milking, deep and thought provoking verses like this:

The signs of success may be different from what you think. Goat photo by Steve Henderson Fine Art

“Ba-dah-ba-dum-dum-dum (squirt-squirt), Ba-dah-ba-dummmmm,”

and I thought,

“I never realized this, but I’m happy.”

I’m not rich, I’m not famous, I’m not powerful, I’m sitting on a broken chair next to a goat, and though I don’t have to buy milk at the grocery store I also don’t have a housekeeper to send there to buy bananas.

But I’m happy.

And if success is what makes people happy, then I guess that I’m very, very successful, and since I sing when I milk the goats, it must mean that, somehow, owning goats is an essential part of being a success.

I suppose it’s as good of a definition as any.

Don’t let me box you in. If you don’t own goats, or don’t have more bathrooms than you do bedrooms, or don’t have a housekeeper to send to the store to buy — or not buy — milk, you can still be a success.

You just have to redefine the word into something worth achieving.

Coming soon — my new book, Live Happily on Less: 52 Ideas to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle. Saving money does not have to be a convoluted, difficult process — and it can actually be fun.

Like me on Facebook, and I’ll post when it’s published. I’ll also post it here, so if you’re not following me already, I invite you to do so — you can subscribe to this blog by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box at the top right of this page.

In the meantime, you can read more of me through Life Is a Gift (Kindle), The Jane Austen Driving School (Kindle), and Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say him and me or he and I?”

This article is linked to The Chicken Chick, Nourishing Joy, Natural Living MammaButter Believer, Mom’s the WordThe Prairie Homestead, A Blossoming Life, Real Food Forager, Healthy Roots Happy Soul, A Humble Bumble, Kelly the Kitchen Kop,  Adventures of a DIY Mom, New Nostalgia, Be Simply Better, Hope in Every Season, Frugally Sustainable, Deep Roots at Home, Raising Homemakers, Holistic Squid, Simply Helping Him, Mama BZZ, Adorned from Above, Wholehearted Home, Dude Sustainable, My Cultured Palate, Thank Your Body, Katherine’s Corner, Gnowfligns, Rens Family BlogHappy and Blessed Home, Little House in the Suburbs, Our Heritage of Health, Life as We Know It, Friday Flash Blog, Oh So Amelia

16 Responses

    1. Thank you, Dorothy. The goat pictured is Sasha, and she walks like a dancer; she was a gift from our Son and Heir.

      Goats are beautiful animals — tough yet sweet, able to feed in the oddest places off of the oddest things, and people worldwide can keep them and have a source of food and companionship. We are grateful to be goat owners!

    1. Thank you, Katherine, and thank you for opening your blog hop up for sharing.

      Goats are fun, pleasant, intelligent animals with unique personalities. I think that you would enjoy having one — although, since they’re such sociable animals, it’s best to have two, so that they have a friend. Some people keep a goat with a horse or a sheep, and I’ve heard that that works. We have three goats that interact together, and they really do. We had one down the other day, not feeling well, and the other two hung around, eating close so that she wouldn’t be alone.

  1. I smiled as I read this post. Funny how when we are happy, we make little happy sounds. I have long been fascinated with goats and chickens, neither of which my husband will allow me to have. Poo. What are your goats names?

    1. Hi, Jaime — my kids tell me that when I am concentrating extra hard, I made some funny little humming sound. I have no idea that I do this, can never catch myself when I do, and smile graciously as they tell the story over and over, and laugh and laugh. Ah well, there are worse things that I could do.

      We have three goats — Guinevere is a brown and white alpine, the oldest of the three; practical and gum chewing; Shai is a blend of everything, dumpy and fat and dumb, but very endearing; Sasha, our latest and the gift from our Son and Heir, is a full blooded Saanen. She is delicate and graceful, like a ballet dancer.

      Goats get a lot of bad press — stinky, smelly, noisy, evil — but they’re beautiful, useful animals that respond to human interaction and attention. I hope that you can have one (or two, they like company) some day. — Carolyn

  2. I have enjoyed your post so much! Yes, if happiness was measured by all the things the world considers as important, then most of us would have been major depression sufferers and the companies that manufacture anti-depressants would have been smiling all the way to the bank!
    Much love XX

    1. Hi, Mia — I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. Actually, the drug manufacturers are doing a lot of smiling, because people are spending a lot of money on their products. It’s up to each of us, individually, to figure out our way and follow it, to find contentment in the oddest places, to work — really hard — at recognizing the true value of what is in our lives. And then, we pass on what we have learned.

      And, since this takes a lifetime of working through it bit by bit, we can shortcut add joy to people’s lives by simply smiling, offering a kind word, or writing a graciously upbeat comment like you just did. Thank you for this lovely gift. — Carolyn

    1. Renee — you are most welcome, and thank you again for inviting me. I am glad that you liked the post, and I know that you’ve been wondering — the goats’ names are Guinevere, Shai, and Sasha. In the past, we’ve had Mercedes, DantESS (daughter of Mercedes — drawn from the Count of Monte Cristo), Contessea, Rosamund, Vanessa, Juliet — my imagination soars when a new doeling is born!

  3. Well written! What a blessing to find the “ever-elusive” Success! 🙂 Thank you for posting on Happy and Blessed Home for Family Fun Friday! Blessings!

  4. So enjoyed your post. From the title, I thought it was going to be derogatory in regard to goats, but I was happily surprised. I love my goats and certainly understand your feeling of success! I’m not milking yet, but soon…..

    1. Lisa — I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. So many people are, as you observe, derogatory toward goats, but they are beautiful animals that provide much food and joy to people throughout the world. Very few people see or know this — but you and I do. I look forward to your day of milking — it is an empowering, happy feeling to know that there is milk in your home from the animals on your land, and you develop a relationship with each one of these funny, intelligent, quirky gifts from God. — Carolyn

  5. Love this post! My husband and I do not subscribe to the “bigger, better, more” lifestyle either…and he would love a goat! And some chickens…

    1. Thank you, Kim. I hope that you and your husband get your goat, and chickens, someday — they definitely add a gentle goodness to one’s day and life, and there is something about the time spent milking. It’s as if time has stopped, and it’s just you and the animals, doing daily chores.– Carolyn

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