Goats are surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly) quite prevalent in folklore, movies, and literature. From Pan in Greek Mythology to Aberforth Dumbledore’s Patronus in Harry Potter to their brief mention in Shakespeare’s Othello, goats make a strong appearance in ancient and popular culture.  Arguably, however, the most popular and well-known goat story is Three Billy Goats Gruff.

The Norwegian folktale authored by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen follows the story of three Billy goats, all named Gruff, as they try to make their way across a bridge to reach a meadow full of grass to plump themselves up. They had already eaten all there was to eat on their side of the bridge and must cross it if they desire to continue their feast.

Bridges are scary enough, especially with a river raging beneath. Even scarier are the rare bridges that have big, ugly trolls living underneath them. Spoiler alert – this bridge had one of those trolls.

The first goat begins to make his way across the bridge, but is interrupted by the hideous, hungry troll. The troll, honest as he is, tells the goat that he will eat him. The first goat is clever and tells the troll to wait for his fatter brother, baiting him with the promise of a more fulfilling meal. The troll is fooled, and the first goat continues safely across the bridge to the hillside.

The second goat is as clever as the first and pulls the same stunt and the troll gets tricked again.

The third goat is the last to cross the bridge, and cannot use the same strategy as his brothers. He opts to rely on his already big belly. He is so heavy the bridge creaks under his weight. When the troll comes to eat the goat he had been waiting for, Gruff pokes out the eyes with his huge horns, crushes him and throws him into the water below. After his victory, he crosses the bridge and meets the other goats on the hillside. They eat and eat until they can hardly walk at all.

This story depicts goats as clever, as they were able to outsmart the troll; stubborn, as they were determined to cross the bridge and did not shy away from the troll; a little greedy themselves, as they had already eaten everything in their own meadow and still wanted more; and violent, as the last goat did not hesitate to crush the troll.

Are goats all that the story characterizes them as?

According to one of our Farm Country Guest Experience Supervisors, MeClay Stewart, not quite.

Are goats violent?

“They can be. However, with the right amount of training and consistently working with the goats, they can become much more friendly.”

Are goats clever?

“There are a few studies that show that goats have a similar intelligence to dogs. They can be trained to do tricks and similar tasks as dogs. Goats will often use their own communication with each other as well as to gather their young ones.”

Are goats stubborn?

“Goats are often known for their stubbornness. However, the more you learn about them and the more you learn to manage behaviors the easier they are to manage.”

Are goats big eaters?

“Goats love to eat! It is one of their favorite hobbies. They enjoy eating plants and various types of hay and grasses.”

What main characteristic would you say define goats?

“Goats are very playful and active animals. They enjoy playing and socializing with other goats, animals, and people.”

You heard MeClay, our goats are excited to see you. Come by Farm Country to say hello!