Biblical sheep and rent-a-goats

It seems the oddball goats with the crazy horns growing this way and that out of their heads that I found on an Amish homestead in Pennsylvania turn out not to be goats at all–I’ve been informed that they are what is known as ‘Jacob sheep’.  Thanks to Bruce B-T and Mike for pointing it out.  Bruce recommends a site offering more on Jacob sheep (Update: no longer online).



I also checked that old compadre, Wikipedia, and have learned that apparently these are quite rare sheep, with an ‘estimated fewer than 5,000 global population’, making them a threatened variety.  I didn’t feel as bad about my mis-diagnosis when I read Wikipedia referring to them as ‘resembl[ing] goats in their conformation.’

Whoever wrote the Wikipedia article seems to know what they are talking about.  They go on to explain lots of stuff about fleece and docking the tail and so on, and that the Jacob sheep can have up to six horns, growing in all sorts of strange configurations.

This wiki also informs us that ‘Jacobs have been used as attack sheep in Gloucestershire, in the manner of attack dogs, to protect farm property from vandalism.’

Now, the link provided as a citation has expired, and this is Wikipedia after all, so take that tidbit with a grain of salt.  But the idea of an attack sheep.  My, my.

Jacob_sheep_oklahoma_stateBruce also points out the Biblical nature of the sheep’s name.  From Bruce’s link we learn that ‘the name Jacobcomes from the Old Testament story of the dealings between Jacob and hisfather-in-law Laban. This Biblical story of Jacob’s striving to achievespotted sheep and goats is thought to be the earliest record of selectivebreeding.’

While we’re at it, let me mention a related innovation: a rent-a-goat program in Seattle.  They exist.  Don’t believe me?  Google it.

Okay, enough of that.  If I’m not careful before I know it I’ll be renaming this blog Goat America.

2nd photo:

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    1. Hey, I happen to like goats! LOL! Not so sure about goat america though think i prefer amish america thank you! That was some interesting info on the jacob’s sheep. Thanks

    2. If your still in Holmes County, Hershberger Produce on SR 557 just south of SR39 has a few of these Jacobs sheep. They also have a zonkey out back. OK 🙂 I was told it was a cross between a donkey and a zebra. I cannot verify that, but it sure looks like it. Hershbergers have quite the little petting zoo there, and it sure attracts attention. Even my Amish taxi customers would gawk while I drove them past the place.

    3. Back in the days when we had goats, I was telling our pastor about some of their escapades. He said, “Now do you see why the goats go to the left?” But we had sheep, too. (Not like the Jacobs sheep, though.) It wasn’t long before I told him, “I think they should all go to the left.”

      (You have to know your Biblical allusions to follow that.)

      I kind of miss them, though. At least I get to see them when riding through Amish country or (now) looking at your blog.

    4. missymess

      Back when I used to spin I had access to Jabob fleeces. It spins a nice varigated yarn.

    5. Matthew

      Now back to our regularly scheduled programming 😉

    6. Baked goods at the Hershberger Truck Patch in Holmes County, Ohio

      Mike the Hershberger Truck Patch (do you know why is it called Truck Patch anyway?) is one of my favorite stops–great baked goods, free coffee! I saw some of their goats one of my last times there but just didn’t have my eye out for the Jacob sheep. And missed the zonkey!

      John I have an inkling but think I’m missing the allusion…don’t tell me it’s something really obvious I should know!

      missymess you have skills which I lack…I wonder if that was expensive on account of them apparently being so rare

      Regularly scheduled programming! so we’ll stick with amish I guess…

    7. It’s in Matthew 25. At the last judgment, the goats go to the left (to the bad place) and the sheep to the right. Except that now that I’ve raised both sheep and goats, I say both should go to the left. (At least when they break down fences and get into things they shouldn’t.)

    8. Goats considered bad animals in Scripture?

      Ha! They both seem like they could be mischievous ornery beasts. If I were a full-time country dweller I’m sure I would try out goats at least, one of the smaller varieties–they seem like pretty cool pets.

      Matthew 25–I re-read it–this is one of the most well known passages of course–the judgment is what you remember but the sheep and goat detail is sort of stuck in there and honestly I did not remember it…but I wonder why goats got such a bad rap? After all, you can’t shear them, but they do give milk and meat…I wonder if they were considered ‘bad’ animals for some reason in Biblical times?

    9. I have long wondered what made the goats the symbols for those who go to the left. (BTW, I believe some -are- sheared for wool, though most are not.) Maybe it would help if we knew just what varieties of sheep and goats were in use at the time of Jesus.

      BTW, I’ve posted about the Nappanee tornado and an Amish-Mennonite puzzler over at spokesrider. There seem to be quite a variety of Amish/Mennonite groups in Elkhart county.

    10. Ingrid

      I know I’m posting this nearly 2 years after the other posters, but I have to tell this story:

      I live in a two-story apartment. There are 4 of them in my building, small fenced patios in the rear of each. Beyond the fence is an abandoned field. A few years ago, a nice college-age boy lived in the apartment next door to me. Late one night I heard a *bump* followed by “Ow! (mutter mutter mutter)” I ignored it thinking, “He’s a nice kid. Just live and let live.” But I heard it several more times. Then I realized the verbal comments were coming from out back. I had to investigate. I couldn’t see much from my sliding glass patio door so I looked out from my second-story bathroom window. My neighbor had apparently locked himself out of his apartment and was trying to climb his back fence to get in through his glass door. What he didn’t know was that the field’s owner had put a billy goat there to crop the dead grass short. The goat would back up and, each time my poor neighbor tried to hike one of his leg up to climb the fence, the goat would give him a good butt in his posterior, *bumping* him into the fence. My young, tall, broad-shouldered, athletic neighbor was so humiliated, by a goat! It was painful for my neighbor, but it was also so funny I sorta felt like I should pay the goat for the yuks.

      But Jesus is right. They should definitely go left. Hehehe.