Assessor uses instincts to get her goat

Saving a life is all in a day’s work for Island County Assessor Mary Engle.

Saving a life is all in a day’s work for Island County Assessor Mary Engle.

The elected assessor was called into action last month while she was teaching a new appraiser how to measure farm buildings. They stopped at Central Whidbey’s historic Jenne Farm, which is owned by Fran Einterz and Joyce Peterson, for a lesson.

Engle said she noticed as they arrived that a black-and-white goat in a fenced pasture seemed to be in distress. She kept an eye on the animal as they worked and finally went to inspect.

She said she quickly realized that the goat was having difficulty giving birth. The baby goat was stuck on the way out, with only its head and a leg visible.

Engle called her husband, longtime Coupeville farmer Bob Engle, and asked him what she should do.

“He said, ‘I don’t know. Use your feminine instincts,’” she said.

Her instinct was to pull. Engle said she yanked on the little kid, which induced the nanny-goat to contract and the baby was safely born almost immediately.

Engle said they waited until the tiny goat got up and walked, then left as a neighboring farmer arrived to help.

“Being in the field, you see so many weird things,” Engle said, “but that was a new one.”

Einterz and Peterson were in Cuba on a jazz tour when the assessor birthed their kid. They found out about it through Facebook.

“I have no doubt that Mary saved the baby,” Einterz said. “We’re very thankful.”

Einterz said he and his wife have nine adult goats on their farm and two kids with more on the way. They use the silly, curious creatures to control weeds in pastures and trails, while some of the young males end up on the dinner table.

Einterz said he and his wife don’t normally name their goats, but the mother goat happened to be a doe they call “Unihorn” because of missing headwear. They named the baby girl “Julia,” with the Spanish pronunciation, after a woman Einterz and Peterson met in Cuba.

“I probably should have named her Mary, but I didn’t want to be disrespectful of our public officials,” he joked.

Julia is a healthy and very rambunctious little creature that seems to love people and a scratch on the head.

“She’s the most social goat we’ve ever had,” Einterz said, adding that it might be due to her mother — a patient, mature goat that’s had five or six kids previously.

Einterz speculated that the birth of little Julia may have been the first time an elected county official has helped to birth an animal on the historic farm.

“It’s 105 years old. I can’t say that has never happened before, but I’ve never heard of anything,” he said.