The story behind Lake Murray’s ‘Goat Boat’

Posted 7/25/23

Keep an eye open on Lake Murray and you might spot the Goat Boat.

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The story behind Lake Murray’s ‘Goat Boat’


Keep an eye open on Lake Murray and you might spot the 'Goat Boat.'

Two Gilbert residents, Tim and Doris Kirby, have turned one of their boats into the perfect vessel for transporting their three goats – Elvis, Eli and Elwood – to different islands on Lake Murray, allowing them to roam and graze.

The pontoon boat is equipped with a front corral that holds the goats along with the family's five dogs. The blue outside of the boat is adorned with the goats’ faces and the business’ straightforward, attention-grabbing name.

According to Tim, the goats get a weekly excursion to these islands and will typically stay for 30-45 minutes, something they’ve been doing since they were kids.

“It's just an outing for them, like taking the kids to the park,” Tim said “They are so spoiled.”

The owner shared that he would love for the Goat Boat to go viral, and he posts images and videos to his personal Facebook account to stoke excitement.

Tim stressed that the goats are not harming the island and don’t eat much of the vegetation. He added that the goats don’t make a dent in the growth the islands experience, saying that he has to cut the grass in their pen on a regular basis.

“I always thought somebody's gonna go like, ‘You're destroying the islands,’ and that's just not the case,” Tim said. “If we were destroying an island, that one would be a little more bare than it is. They can't even put a dent in it.”

“I kind of look at it as if they're pruning.” He added.

The island the goats are normally taken out to is what the family calls Bird Island, with Tim telling the Chronicle not to confuse it with the lake’s Bomb Island where lake's purple martins often gather.

Tim said that the island grows persimmons, a small orange-colored fruit that the goats just love.

The Kirbys told the Chronicle that the three Nigerian Dwarf goats are half-brothers, with Elwood being the only one without a beard, the reason being unknown. Tim told the Chronicle that they originally started off with Elvis, their black-white-and-brown goat.

“We learned real quick we can’t have one goat. They don't do well by themselves, they’re herd animals,” Tim said. “So I talked to my mentor at the time of needing another one. She said, ‘Well, you could have the next born,’ which was Eli.”

“So we're gonna go get him and she sent me a text that evening or the next morning,and he [Elwood] was born, he was such a good looking guy. I didn't want to go up there and be like the guy that goes, ‘Okay, well I'm gonna take him instead of him,’ because I'm already committed to him. That's why we have three.”

When not out on the boat, the goats have their own pen at home with a bridge, swing and a little house that Tim built for them. He told the Chronicle that Eli loves to walk along the beam holding the swing up while Elvis loves to sit on the swing.

Tim said that each of the goats come inside the house when night comes around, with each having a separate kennel.

“They have completely different personalities,” he said.

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