Once upon a time, there lived a goat and a rooster.
It was this morning in Indian Land. And most every day the past three years. Theirs is a storybook friendship, forged when an old buck in bad shape met a feathered fowl brand new to the farm.
“It was adorable,” said Malissa Morrill, who first met the pair when her daughter began horse riding lessons at His Barn three years ago.
Morrill is one of many with photo space on her phone dedicated to the odd couple. Her best one shows Samoa, the rooster, riding atop the near record-setting old goat.
He, naturally, is Billy.
“I was kind of wondering,” Morrill said of the snap she took, “is the goat so old that it just isn’t moving? But, no, he was giving the rooster a ride.”
Billy has had an entertaining time of living on his own, though Samoa met him at a low point. Bottle-fed and raised with a dog, Billy outgrew and became a nuisance to the neighborhood where he lived. The young boy who owned him found His Farm, a faith-oriented horse riding and summer camp barn off Whipporwill Lane. Owner Jillian Butela moved onto the farm in July 1999. Billy arrived that August.
“He turned 18 years old this January, and the average lifespan is 8 to 12 years,” Butela said. “The world record is 22 years old. He’s an old goat.”
Almost four years ago, Billy was attacked by several dogs. It’s a wonder, Butla said, he didn’t die then. Instead, Samoa arrived. The rooster kept the goat company as the larger animal recovered. Barn regulars thought it was temporary.
"The rooster adopted him," Butela said.
The pair wander the farm together. Samoa sleeps on Billy. They are stall mates, Samoa perched in the back left corner and Billy the right side of a hay-floored rectangle meant for horses. Billy, barely able to walk on his own, still gives Samoa rides.
“This is not rooster behavior,” Butela said.
Maybe the rooster is working his way up the pecking order at the farm. Befriending Billy would be the way to go about it.
"He's our mascot at this farm," Butela said. "Everybody and their brother has met this goat."
Billy recently got his own Facebook page. Billy Butela is listed as “chief goat” at His Barn, responsible for testing out the animal food and serving as the “unofficial face” of the place. He had to adopt the last name to start tallying up his nearly three dozen Facebook friends.
“Facebook wasn’t happy that he was a goat,” Butela said.
Morrill hasn’t been at His Barn nearly as long as Billy, and said she can’t imagine the facility without its main attraction.
“He’s such a part of this barn, it wouldn’t be the same if he wasn’t here,” she said.
Nobody knows it better than Samoa. Surrounded by thousand pound horses, dogs, cats — the place even has a llama — it’s a maybe three pound rooster that’s most intimidating. Just let anyone try getting too close to Billy, and Samoa sounds off like the crack of dawn.
He struts. He curls his feathers. He pecks.
Butela doesn’t know what Samoa would do if Billy weren’t around anymore. Samoa probably is the reason, she said, Billy isn’t gone already.
“He spent months with this goat, and then when Billy goat started getting up and walking and doing, the rooster has continued to just stay with him,” she said.
The two are “just best friends,” not so much awaiting their storybook ending as living it out as they go.
“He rides on him, he sleeps on him, he goes out and grazes,” Butela said. “Wherever the goat goes, the rooster will be somewhere.”
▪To learn more about His Barn, which offers, trail rides, camps and more, call 803-547-7791 or go to hisbarn.com.