Down at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, nestled between pens fragrant with fresh sawdust and an orchestra of bleats, clucks and the sharp cry of peacocks, is a wooden bench.
While the bench itself is nothing extraordinary, the plaque embedded into is. The plaque reads “Dedicated to the memory of ‘Archer’ our pygmy goat and all of our creatures great and small. June 13, 2003.”
Even sixteen years later, the theft and resulting death of Archer is a heartbreaking memory for Lynda and Dennis Koender, who founded the farm in 1985.
“He was only five days old when he was stolen,” Lynda Koender said. “We were devastated.”
|A plaque at Beacon Hill Children's Farm remembers when baby goat "Archer" was stolen. He was eventually returned, but too sick to survive (Nicole Crescenzi/ News Staff)|
Archer was with his mother in his pen when someone broke in via the back gate and stole him. He had yet to be de-horned or neutered, and would still be reliant on his mother’s milk for at least seven more weeks. At the time the farm didn’t have any surveillance cameras set up, but Archer’s disappearance made national news.
Five weeks later, the Koender’s came to find Archer, alive, in a cage with an apology letter in front of the farm’s gates.
“Apparently a man stole him to give it to his girlfriend,” Lynda said. “They made it all the way back to Kitsilano.”
The couple had no experience with goats, and ended up feeding Archer cow’s milk, something he couldn’t digest. The Koender’s took Archer to the vet, but after three days he passed away.
“It was just such a roller coaster of emotions,” said Dennis Koender. “Even now my daughter doesn’t like to come work here anymore. It tore her heart that it happened.”
Since then the Koender’s installed more security measures including surveillance cameras to make sure that kids – both goat and human– stay safe.
Since the installation of cameras a few interesting things have been recorded; one man broke in and flooded the goat pens, and then proceeded to break into the farm’s lost and found and try on clothes, sunglasses and even a pacifier.
The Koender’s own experience with a theft makes them especially sympathetic for the Yellow Point Farm in Ladysmith, which recently had a 12-day old baby goat stolen during a snuggle session.
“It’s just tragic,” Dennis said. “Unless those people know about goats, the chances it’ll survive is slim to none.”
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