“Do you name them all?” This is a question we are often asked by visitors to the farm. The answer: “Yes, yes we do.” And it’s not always easy. Occasionally a few private surrenders will arrive with a name but a majority of our rescues arrive without names. Some arrive as numbers from auctions and the slaughterhouse and the babies, they never have names. To us, they are individuals and we believe that everyone needs a name. So as part of introducing them to the new chapter in their lives, we name them. We like to give new arrivals names that “fit” them. A name that reflects their appearance, personality and/or their story. A name that celebrates who they are. For some, we instantly find a name that’s perfect. Others, it can take a while.
When I first started volunteering at the rescue, being a part of the naming process was very exciting. I spent hours combing through the name lists that Barbara has compiled over the years. I would find and bookmark websites with names from all over the world. I would make lists of new arrivals and name possibilities and run them by Barbara. We’ve found that bouncing names off of each other is far more effective. It’s fun to be creative but 20, 30, goats in each year, it starts to get a lot harder and the creativity gets harder to come by. Especially during baby season when dozens arrive at a time. So far this year, with the busiest baby season in the books, a slaughterhouse rescue and a number of private surrenders, we’ve named over 100 goats. We’re well aware of the fact that many goats get new names as soon as they take their victory walk and leave PSGR. However, in the time they are with us, they have a name that we choose just for them. Just how those names come about, well, just as there are 100+ names each year, there is 100+ ways on how we come about them.
Two months ago we rescued a wonderful group of goats from a local slaughterhouse. A small LaMancha doe was the “train wreck” of the group. She was in very poor physical condition; thin, losing her hair, caked in slaughterhouse muck, but this gal was spunky! The slaughterhouse experience certainly hadn’t killed her spirit. She was full of life and clearly had a strong will to live. A few days after her arrival we were still at a loss of what to name her. So I posted her picture on Instagram and asked our followers for name suggestions that represented her spirit; one of a fighter, a survivor. Within hours we had over 80 name suggestions. We sat down amongst the goats and I read through the names. As soon as we read Katniss, we knew that was it. Such a fitting name for this girl!
In that same rescue was a sweet Nubian doe, temporarily blind from an eye infection and as thin as could be. She was wearing a collar, one with a name tag. Her name was Greta. But Greta was a name associated with a life that was now in the past. One that cared enough to engrave a name tag for her at one time but not enough to prevent her from ending up at a slaughterhouse. When we arrived back at the rescue, we threw it away. She would now be known as Daphne. We were so happy when Daphne regained her sight a few days later and was able to see her new life.
During baby season we’re having to come up with a lot of names. 86 this year to be exact. One of the first groups to arrive was 4 Oberhasli kids that I picked up while Barbara was on vacation out of the country. The smallest had these little pointy ears and an adorable short little face. Immediately I started calling him Gizmo. I know Barbara well enough to know she would have nixed that name had she been there. I tried countless other names but I kept calling him Gizmo. The farm sitter started calling him Gizmo. The volunteers started calling him Gizmo. When Barbara got back, his name was Gizmo.
When it came to naming my boys, who I still, and probably forever will, call “The Minis,” no names really stood out initially. These two were always all over the place, into everything, bouncing off of anything they could, moving 90 miles an hour. We thought of something tsunami or hurricane like but nothing fit. Until reading through a list one night in the barn we came across Nitro. As it often does, it just clicked and that was it. We decided to go with another N name for his twin. Nico was settled on when honestly, we had pretty much given up on going through the list again and again, but a few days later Nico just wasn’t fitting. So it was changed to Nicky and their names are now so perfectly fitting that I can’t imagine having named them anything else.
With so many kids this year and so many names to remember I had to make signs on each of the baby areas with descriptions of who was who. Cheat sheets if you will. Although that is not always a failsafe. With so many Saanen kids this year it was hard to tell them apart. Despite slight variations in size, facial features or ear size, it was tough to keep them all straight. Especially in the first few days of arrival when we have to monitor who has learned that their milk now comes from a bottle and how much they’re eating. So Kodiak became known as, nail polish on back right foot, Eljin; nail polish on back left foot, Yuki; nail poish on front right foot, etc.
Some of our rescues get to bear a namesake of those who have come before them. When Levi, a longtime resident Saanen wether passed away due to old age last winter, we knew one of the kids would be named in his honor this season. The first Saanen that arrived this year was named Levi to carry on the legacy. We could not have picked a better namesake for Levi. I am still waiting for a special little doeling to come along to carry on the namesake of our beloved Mia.
Whether their name is one that has a long story or one that is simply “just because it fits”, they are no longer an auction number, no longer one in a hundred babies born on a dairy or waiting to be sold for meat. They now have a name and a new life ahead. It is always a relief when all the current residents of PSGR are named. That is until another new arrival comes through the gate and we look at each other and say “we have to think of a name” and once again it's time to play the name game.