SADIE HUTCHINGS / VETERINARIAN / WELLFLEET
Sadie Hutchings is a native Wellfleetian, living with her husband and their toddler and baby in the house where she grew up. There’s a yellow sign by the road that reads “Goats Crossing.” And if you look as you are driving or walking by, you’ll likely see Pinto and Erskine, whom Sadie calls “the best goats.” Amidst life’s stresses and the chaos of working and raising a family, the goats provide lots of laughter and moments of Zen. Here’s Sadie in her own words. You can hear her voice in the online version at provincetownindependent.org.
I don’t know why I love goats so much. There’s just something in my brain that makes me love ruminants in particular.
I love goats because they’ve got so much personality. They’re easy to take care of. That’s a pro. They act like dogs that live outside, and they’re almost better than dogs, because they can’t really bite you or shed in your house.
I found my goats, Erskine and Pinto, at the Animal Rescue League in Brewster. The first few months I had them, I couldn’t touch them. One was more scared than the other. I mostly just watched them. And that’s when I think I learned to appreciate their antics.
They love each other so much. They’re the best of friends. But then, in a second, they’re butting heads. They do this little dance now before they head-butt, where they both walk backwards and then they get up on their back feet, and then they hop over on their hind legs towards each other, and then they just smash their skulls together. And then they’re fine. They do it 20, 50 times a day, depending on how many snacks they’re fighting over.
My entire life, I was going to be a vet. So, I just worked to get there, which basically meant always studying. It was great to finally graduate and become one! I practice in Provincetown. I have a really great job. It’s just a great community. They love their animals, and they’re also very caring of other people.
In normal times, with no pandemic, there’s not enough veterinarians on the Cape. There’s not enough trained staff members, and there’s a high level of turnover. That’s not great, but that’s just what we’re used to.
During the pandemic, a lot of people adopted animals, and it wasn’t just people adopting new animals. It was people sitting at home and staring at their animals and not knowing — oh, this is actually normal behavior they do all the time. Now I’m just staring at you, because I don’t have anything else to do. And people are feeling anxious. You’re anxious about life, and then you think there’s a problem with your best friend. You’re not only going to want to address that, even if it’s maybe not a problem, but you’re going to want to have it addressed immediately. We were overbooked every day. And it continued to just get worse. So, everyone was mentally exhausted from constant work and not taking a moment to reflect.
I had a baby May 1. So, now I’m home with, luckily, a lot of family support. But there’s still the chaos of two kids, two dogs, two cats, a horse, two fish that I need to feed. I forgot I was supposed to feed them!
The goats are our moments of Zen in the day, when the mosquitos allow us to eat dinner outside and feed the goats. We just did some fencing repairs, because Pinto was getting out. He ate my rosebush, which is what he always does. He ate all the monarch butterfly weed that I had, so it looks like a herd of moths went through and just destroyed it.
But when he gets out, it’s so fun, because it makes [two-year-old] Juniper’s day. She sees him, she squeals with delight. The goats are so good. It used to take me buckets of goat treats to get them back inside the fence. Now I just open the gate and they go running back in.
Even though it’s chaos, it’s fun. It’s distracting. They really just make us laugh. If you’ve ever sat and watched a goat sleep — it’s very soothing.
What’s even better is to watch them chew their cud. They’ll just be lying on their side with their little heads up in the air, and then you see this lump or big ball go up their throat, and they just start chewing. And it’s just very relaxing at the right moment, when there’s birds and a little sun, and they’re just chewing away. They just stare off at nothing. And it’s like, Ah, I want to do that. I just want to sit and chew my cud and look off in the distance!
They have a goat jungle gym out there where they can jump up on a spool. They take a ramp up to a bridge, then they can cross the bridge, and then go down another ramp, and then jump off a picnic table.
Depending on the season, they have a variety of sleeping spots. They have a shed with bunk beds in it, so they can choose to sleep under one bunk bed, which is where they like to be in the winter. And then they can also sleep on the top bunk. They usually like that in the summer.
My dream, my next step for the goat house, is to make a nice little goat chapel. I want to put in a fancy stained-glass window, maybe with a vegetable scene, which is what they would like. I’ll hire an artist for them: a commissioned original piece!