The Goat Whisperers of Brecon 

The Brecon Beacons are the looming highlands of South Wales. Remote, dotted with hill farms, whose owners which have eked out a living from their goats and sheep for centuries. This a land where communication between remote homesteads once took place with farmers shouting across the rocky terrain perhaps to locate a missing animal. 

It gave rise to one the most famous of Welsh folk songs, about a wayward goat. In the spirit of such songs the verses are repeated, each with a different colour goat. The song is called  Oes Gavre eto. Roughly translated ‘is there another goat up there?’

The farmer is in luck. From the next hill, the answer comes back. Yes, it’s white. Very white.

It’s got a white lip, and a white tail. Then the repetition. In the second verse it’s a black goat, very black, with a black lip and a black tail.

That might have ended pretty quickly, but the poet then moves into more fancifully-coloured goats.

Yes there’s a red goat, very red, with a red lip and a red tail.

In the fourth verse there’s a blue goat. And in the final verse there’s a pink goat.

As children, we never challenged the possibility of such a rainbow bunch of goats not existing. Anyway, the song might have more than a dash of reality, especially at dipping time, when the sheep and goats are dipped into dyed disinfectants, useful protection from disease, and for goat spotting of strays.

The song ends, but my story is only beginning…

The entrepreneurial farmers 

There‘s an entrepreneurial spirit in these hill farms. A thriving industry has sprung up. 

Visitors can take part in the life cycle of the goats and sheep from birth to the sheering.

Other farms have expanded into goat-based activities. It seems young goats enjoy being taken for a walk, but even more if given a chance to demonstrate their climbing and jumping skills. A sort of Crufts for goats.

As the farmers might be saying:

There’s goats in them there hills. Any colour you like.

Notes for folk-song writers:

Here’s how the song goes in more detail

Is there another goat? One that hasn’t been milked?
On the craggy rocks the old goat is wandering

A white white white goat
Yes, a white lip, a white lip, a white lip
a bald white tail, a bald white tail
a white flank and tail, white-white-white

Is there another goat? One that hasn’t been milked?
On the craggy rocks the old goat is wandering

Now for the necessary repetition 

(2nd verse) A black goat

Yes it’s black black black

(3rd verse) A red goat

Yes it’s red, red, red

And as children don’t feel confined to colours empirically observed in goats we have 

(4th verse) A blue goat

(5th verse) A pink goat

Come to think of it, there might have been rainbow-hued goats after they have been subjected to the goat dips.

Or in Welsh

Oes gafr eto?

Oes gafr eto? Oes heb ei godro?
Ar y creigiau geirwon mae’r hen afr yn crwydro.

Gafr wen, wen, wen,
ie finwen, finwen, finwen,
foel gynffonwen, foel gynffonwen,
ystlys wen a chynffon, wen-wen-wen.

Oes gafr eto? Oes heb ei godro?
Ar y creigiau geirwon mae’r hen afr yn crwydro.

(2il pennill) Gafr ddu
(3ydd pennill) Gafr goch
(4ydd pennill) Gafr las
(5ed pennill) Gafr binc

Those willing to put up with my tuneless attempt at the first verse, will find it at the end of the podcast


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