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  • Laurie Frankel

Man who Tried Becoming a Goat Reports Success/Friendship. Goat #18 Begs to Differ.

Updated: Aug 27, 2023


"Just so we're clear," says Goat 18, "I'm on to you."

In 2014, Thomas Thwaites, a British designer, eager to escape the worries inherent in being human embarked on becoming a goat. After the success of his Toaster Project in 2011, (an effort to reverse-engineer a cheap toaster entirely from scratch.) Thwaites was in debt, living

Ta da!

with his father and sending out résumés to no avail. By his own admission he was at a low point and in search of another equally compelling research idea. “Human life can just be so difficult…And you look at a goat and it’s just, you know, it’s free. It doesn’t have any concerns.” Thwaites’ first choice was to become an elephant but was dissuaded after a Scandinavian shaman told him an Englishman has no business being an elephant; he should be a sheep or a goat. Upon receiving some choice words from the National Sheep Foundation, he narrowed his focus to seeking goathood.

photo of an adult elephant standing in brown grass
Become an elephant? I pity the fool.

After a meeting with a neuroscientist dispelled any fantasy of being able to think like a goat Thwaites, instead, focused on physically manifesting goat-ness. During his year-long, grant-supported(!) research his final goat persona consisted of: prosthetic goat legs, a rumen bag to mimic that of a goat stomach, a goat-colored Gore-Tex jacket

Look mom, I'm a worry-free goat-ish thing!

and a helmet designed to give him, at first glance, the face of a goat. Preparation complete, Thwaites took off to join a domesticated goat herd in Wolfenschiessen Switzerland. His three-day experience is detailed in the book, GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human (published by Princeton Architectural Press which, to be clear, is unrelated to Princeton University or its Press, a detail I found oddly disappointing.)

photo of a goat face
Part of the herd? Friends? A regular comedian that one.

The best part of the whole experience? “Probably just hanging out with the other goats and being part of the herd…I genuinely think I made a kind of goat friend, a bit of a pal, and hung out with Goat No. 18,” says Thwaites.


What follows are excerpts from an exclusive interview with Goat #18. While the two didn’t butt heads, #18 wants the general public to know that goat life is far from worry free. “I'm so tired of people thinking the life of a goat is nothing but

goat standing on top of cow lying down
Cow massage? Four legs good (two legs baaad.)

rainbows, butterflies and balancing on cows,” she says. “I'm here to dispel the myths. Before you think about becoming a goat, please take the following into serious consideration."

Cannula anyone?

Worry #1: GAS

I’m a ruminant aka I eat grass therefore I have gas. I have to burp literally every minute or I blow up like Violet Beauregard in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Sometimes if my esophagus gets blocked, like when I ate a plastic bag*, I get a frothy bloat and can’t breathe. I once had a friend, her bloat got so bad they stabbed her rumen with a cannula and deflated her like a party balloon. She was never the same. Hey Thwaites, did you try that on your let’s-be-a goat adventure? Right, didn’t think so.

Worry #2: MOUNTAIN CLIMBING

There are more than 100 different types of goats and not all of us can climb mountains. I am so tired of some ram asking why my online profile doesn’t have any photos of me bounding across the Pyrenees as if I’m just being modest. I’m a domestic goat for cry eye. Put me on a mountain, I die.


Worry #3: PRODUCTION

Late at night, I get to thinking, Are they buying my milk? Are they buying my cheese? Will goat yogurt ever be as popular as sheep yogurt? I try to label these negative thoughts for what they are—thinking, thinking and let them go, but it’s not always that easy. Then I remind myself, I am not my milk, I am not my cheese and visualize the sun streaming in through my withers, entering my flanks and melting away all my tension (and gas.)


Worry #4: CHANGING U.S. PUBLIC PERCEPTION

Dairy cows think they’re the sh*t just because their milk is more popular in Western societies even though worldwide—worldwide people!—65% of milk consumption is goat versus that from HRH, the cow. No surprise really as I provide more protein, more calcium, more vitamin A, more niacin, fewer carbs, lower lactose, not to mention I take up less space, I eat less—I could go on and on. But no matter how many times I get into it with say, a cow over in Jersey they just go, “Ka-ching,” and walk away. Some cows are just aholes.


Worry #5: BROWSING vs GRAZING

This is more of a pet peeve than a worry but I’m tired of people thinking goats eat everything in sight. We don’t. We’re browsers, not grazers like cow-holes and sheep. While it’s true, I will chew on just about anything remotely resembling plant material (so I once ate a bag*, sue me) I will just as quickly spit it out, but it’s this last part that’s hard to see so I’m working on a YouTube.


Worries #6 - 9: Lesser-known but high-ranking goat worries, in no particular order:

  • I want to be loved for who I am, not what I look like. I am so tired of hearing, “Got a burger to go with that shake?” Hello, do you mind? My eyes are over here…and here.

  • I have no front top teeth, only a dental pad. Thanks Darwin. It’s fine if I’m dating another goat but nerve-wracking when I date say a sheep or a burro. When do I tell them? How long do I wait?

  • Occasionally, I will cough up a cud. Bad habit, I know and so unladylike. As you can imagine, it makes for some embarrassing moments. Sometimes I turn my head and sort of cough/bleat all at once, but I don’t think I’m fooling anyone.

Goat's best friend or what?

• Little known goat fact: we hate being wet. OMG, hate it! The farm is drawing straws next week to see who’s going to work the dunk tank at this year’s fundraiser and all I can tell you is it ain’t gonna be me. Charlie, a sheepdog I’m sort of dating says if I get picked he’ll switch with me which is sweet. I take back what I said about sheepdogs only being concerned with their OCD.


Biggest worry of them all #10:

  • Finishing my novel.



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2 Comments


margie polimeni
margie polimeni
Aug 11, 2023

Dura la vita delle capre!…Vorrei essere un gatto

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Laurie Frankel
Aug 13, 2023
Replying to

Ciao cara, grazie. Io preferisco essere una balena :)


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