When our young bucklings are old enough to wean, we take them to the market to sell. To unload them, I back my truck up to a ramp and the goats walk out of the pen in the truck bed and down the ramp. Of course, because they’ve never seen a ramp like the one at the market and they’re unsure of their surroundings, they’re usually reluctant to get out of the pen. Usually one or more of the men who work at the market will try to shoo them out. Then, once they’re on the ramp, they have to walk down an alley to the spot where they’re checked in. Once checked it, they must walk to the pen where they’ll stay until the sale commences.
We raise our goats humanely. We never mistreat or abuse them. They are, essentially, tame.
So our goats don’t respond well to kicks, prods, shouts, threats and waving arms. Instead of running from the person trying to herd them, they often will stand and look at him, probably wondering what sort of weird signal he’s giving them.
The last time I unloaded goats at the market, the men who worked there were having trouble moving them along. I overheard one of them say, “The problem with tame goats is that they’re not afraid of people.”
I suppose that because my goats don’t flee in terror at the sight of humans, in the eyes of these guys I’ve failed in some way as a goat farmer. But, to my way of thinking, it is not a “problem” that our animals don’t fear humans. When I see domesticated animals that cower in fear, or run away in terror, in the presence of humans, I consider that to be a serious problem.
But, being the nerd that I am, what came to my mind when I heard the man complaining about the “problem” with tame goats was the curse of carnivores. According to the story in Genesis, until the time of the Flood humans were strictly vegetarian. But when Noah and his family left the ark, God said to them, “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, now I give you everything.” This was, however, accompanied by a curse. God told Noah and his family, “The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth…, they are given into your hands.” Whereas previously the animals had nothing to fear from humans, now humans would kill and eat them so they had much to “fear and dread.”
Someday we’re told that complete harmony and peace between humans and nonhuman animals will be restored: wolves will live with lambs, leopards will lie down with goats, children will play with cobras, and lions will eat straw. In the meantime, while we look forward to that, I’m happy to have goats upon whom the “fear and dread” of me hasn’t fallen. It’s like a tiny little glimpse into the kingdom of God.