When you think Kuching, you probably think cat. But the goat is kicking in, especially this year. More often associated with the Muslim festival of Hari Raya Haji (not so lucky for the goat), goat farms have been springing up all over Sarawak – meat and milk both! Frankly, goats are funny, so why not?

Make milk for the lactose-intolerant

Asians and milk? Not a common combination outside the Indian subcontinent. But if milk is not your thing, consider getting a goat.  Perhaps this will not convince you, but goat’s milk actually has a chemical structure close to human breast milk and, with lower lactose, it may save you running to the restroom!

Upgrade your lawnmower – this one runs on bio-fuel
Ever considered buying one of those robot vacuum cleaners? Why not get one for your garden? A goat will do the same job and you don’t even need to plug it in! In fact, Google used goats for mowing their Mountain View headquarters and the Congressional cemetery in Washington DC got them to get rid of their nuisance plants. Just watch out for your prize peonies in case they get hoovered up with the lalang.

Fertilise for free!
Of course, here in Kuching, the chicken is King in the organic fertiliser stakes packing the highest nitrogen punch but the goat is not far behind and is leaps and bounds ahead of cow manure. Between 75 to 90% of the nutrients a herbivore eats are excreted at the other end, making it an excellent source of growth for your garden. So, consider going organic.

Banish goat odours
Goats may not be renowned for the sweetness of their smell, but goat’s milk soap is one luxury lather. It boasts a host of benefits – moisturising fat content; anti-bacterial properties; essential nutrients and the holy grail of delayed signs of skin aging with its high content of alpha-hydroxy acids. And, it doesn’t smell half bad!

Take up weaving!  Everyone needs a hobby
Pashmina, cashmere, mohair – the names scream fashion fabulous. But they are all born on the backs of a humble goat. Of course, here in the tropics there is not much call for cashmere, and pity the poor goat that has to live here with all that hair! But the Bedu, the desert people of the Middle East, have had goat hair tents and rugs since time immemorial. So spin it, felt it, plait it – the goat is in this season.

Start a band with your own musical instruments
Yes, goats can make sweet, sweet music. We kid you not! Percussion, strings, wind – you can make yourself an orchestra. Goat intestines are the main source of the confusingly named catgut (nothing to do with kuching at all!), which traditionally formed the strings of a huge range of instruments from guitars to harps. The strings can be plucked, the horns can be blown, and the hide can be beaten. Think West Africa’s Djembe or even the Kompang and the Gendang. From a goat comes Joget!

Pack up your belongings – hike with a goat
Apparently hiking with a goat is the new trend. The goat is a pack animal that can cope with very treacherous conditions carrying up to 25kgs on their backs. Even better, you can just let them loose to forage for food. Of course, you may get some funny looks from the kampong folk when you arrive with your flock, but we city folk need some beasts for our burdens!

If all else fails, eat it!
Curry, barbecue – whatever you like – it’s healthy and delicious.  Apparently 63% of red meat consumed worldwide is, in fact, goat meat. With lower calories, fat and cholesterol, goat is a good choice. Just don’t make friends with your goat at the beginning of the year or else by next Chinese New Year, there may be some tears!

By Billy the Kid

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