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Mystery of missing Napa goats solved: herd finds new home

A popular herd of Napa goats has found a new home in American Canyon, on Devlin Road near the Transfer Station. Take a look at Agilina, Houdini, Dancer, Cutie and LaMancha in their new home, and when they used to live on Linda Vista Avenue in Napa.

It could have been a wild goat chase.

Two different readers had contacted the Register this past week, claiming they’d seen the “famous” goats of Linda Vista Avenue in a field near the Devlin Road Transfer Station in American Canyon.

But were they really the same goats?

Ever since the Register ran a Sept. 1 story about the future of a well-known Linda Vista Avenue goat herd, readers had wondered about the fate of Agilina, Houdini, Dancer, Cutie, LaMancha and Mellow.

Longtime goat keeper Robert Sellick that month sold his two-acre property at 4600 Linda Vista Ave. Which meant the goats now had a new owner: the Walker Family Trust.

And then, they vanished.

"What happened to the goats?" locals asked. Who was taking care of them? Were they OK?

Napan Colin Petrie said he and his wife would often walk to visit the goats on Linda Vista Avenue and feed them carrots.

“We knew each and every one of them,” he said.

He was worried about the missing goats. “They could have been abandoned,” or worse.

Don Walker, a representative for the Walker Family Trust, wasn’t talking. He declined a phone interview request.

And then came the Devlin Road goat sightings.

Tuesday a reporter from the Register drove to the transfer station where she located and photographed a pack of five goats. Upon comparing new and old photos, the reporter was relatively confident she had identified the missing goats.

Steve Kelley, general manager at the Devlin Road Transfer Station, confirmed her hunch.

Yes, we have the goats, confirmed Kelley.

They’re now living in a secure area at the Transfer Station, where they are playing a significant role in fire suppression efforts, Kelley said.

In other words, they’re eating weeds.

Kelley said he didn’t realize he had taken on a herd of “celebrity” goats. His name had been passed on to Walker as a possible goat keeper, he said. Someone knew he had weeds, and plenty of them.

“We’re taking good care of them,” Kelley said of the goats. “Tell Robert not to worry,” said Kelley. He’s researched proper goat care and feeding.

Indeed, as seen on Tuesday, the goats had food, water and shelter. Straw had been spread out on the ground. 

The goats will be moved regularly to tend to fresh patches of weeds, noted Kelley.

Sellick had installed a number of climbing pedestals for the goats (which Agilina especially enjoyed) at his Linda Vista Ranch but because these goats will be moved regularly, Kelley said he likely couldn’t create such an elaborate perch. Instead, he’s put out several giant wooden spools for the goats to climb upon.

“The goats are so tame; they are much like a dog," said Kelley. "They are super friendly.”

“I’m trying to figure out their natural pecking order,” but “they seem to get along quite well.”

Reached on Tuesday afternoon at his new home in Florida, Sellick said he was quite relieved to hear the five goats were alive and well.

He’d been fretting about leaving his “best friends,” said Sellick, 84. 

He’d heard that Mellow had died shortly after he left. “It upset me,” said Sellick. 

“I miss my girls,” as he called the goats, “but there’s nothing I can do about it,” he said.

He’s very happy in Florida, said Sellick. He and his partner Jean Hewitt live on the 18th floor of a condo that looks over the Atlantic Ocean.

“Everywhere I go, everything is green,” he said. “It’s always warm. You don’t see any dry grass. I think I made the right decision.”

“I’m glad they are in a nice place,” Sellick said of the goats. Hopefully, his “girls” are getting some of that special sweet cob he fed them. “We don’t want them getting sick and dying.”

It was pure luck that Petrie spotted the goats in American Canyon. He just happened to be driving on Devlin Road on his way out of town, when he recognized his former four-legged neighbors. 

While he’s relieved the goats are safe, Petrie still has some concerns.

“To go from a nice spot in Napa on a farm to the refuse station (with) trucks roaring by … it’s not a very nice environment,” he said. “They’re no longer pets; they’re just goats. That’s what it’s come down to.”

Kelley said he wants readers to know the goats have a good home. Anyone can visit, he said. The goats are currently in a fenced area close to the entrance of 889A Devlin Road.

In fact, the animals are already responsible for one unexpected benefit.

“They’re providing a calming atmosphere for commuters in the afternoon,” Kelley said.

Some drivers use Devlin Road as an alternative to the highway, but commuters can get backed up onto Devlin Road as well.

“When they are sitting in traffic, they can look at the goats.”

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.

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