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  The Passing of Big Floyd
February 29, 2004

Big Floyd died today. He was a giant of a goat – almost the size of a small horse. The biggest goat I ever saw. We acquired Floyd about 1996 when feral dogs had decimated our herd down to a single goat. Our last remaining goat, Truffle, was exceedingly lonely and in a deep funk. So we made a couple of forays to Sonoma County, where the goats are, and bought a cute little Nubian wether (goat terminology for a fixed male), and a couple of females We named the male “Floyd” to rhyme with “Fannie” and “Frannie,” the females. 

Floyd grew and grew. People began to ask me if I had named him after our city manager, Floyd Johnson. It made a good story, so I bought into it. After all, Floyd did become sort of a herd manager. All goat herds have a lead or “boss” goat, and Floyd assumed that stature. Floyd was also a vocal goat. He was the only one who would talk to me. When I hollered out “Floyyyyd,” he would respond, not with the soft “Maaaa” of the other goats, but with a dissonant noise that sounded like something between a broken foghorn and a wounded donkey.  

He was so big that he wore a cowbell instead of a goat bell. He was bossy and ornery with the other goats, but friendly to people. He liked to have his nose rubbed by anyone hiking up Nicholl Knob.

I don’t know what ailed Floyd, but he started weakening a week ago. Friday night, we found him incapacitated in the pasture and moved him into the barn. This weekend, it was kind of a goat hospice as we fed him warm oatmeal and honey while he got weaker until he finally checked out to the great goat pasture in the sky.

Text Box:  
Left, the goats of Nicholl Knob, with Big Floyd looking cool at the top left.
Right, Big Floyd standing tall and looking good









We buried Floyd out behind the barn where over a dozen goats lie, all but two killed by dogs over the years. However, we’ve been lucky since about 1996. The dog problem seems to have subsided. People who didn’t want their dogs used to let them go in Miller-Knox Park, where they would form packs and roam the hills. We also had at least three goats goatnapped. In the late 1980’s, two were found by the Richmond Police in a backyard at Easter Hill just before they were to become cabrito. They were acquired, said the perps, from “a man.” A few years later, the remains of two missing goats were found on Fourth Street. One of our original goats, Gretchen, just disappeared one day without a trace – obviously taken up by a UFO for study whose crew thought she was a representative citizen of Richmond – or maybe even a City Council member – there were three living in Point Richmond at the time. 

We have had goats since we first built on Nicholl Knob nearly 15 years ago. There was a fire on the hill almost every year, and we had some very close calls. Our back yard used to be French Broom and Poison Oak 15 feet high, but thanks to our goat herd, it looks more like a steep golf course today. 

Just last summer, there was a major brush fire in Point Richmond. It stopped dead at our pasture fence, where the fuel ran out. The Richmond Fire Department claimed credit for saving Point Richmond, but locals know it was really Big Floyd and his crew of chompers. 

Goats are gentle and friendly creatures and require little care so long as they have weeds to eat and a place to get out of the rain. There is nothing more peaceful than a herd of goats lying in the sun in the spring grass on a green hill. It puts the soul at rest.