'The Goat in the Garden' | Circle Round 19

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(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

Ever heard the expression, “Good things come in small packages”?
What do you think about when you hear that phrase?

Well, in today’s episode we’ll put this old saying into action with help from a hungry billy goat, a trampled vegetable garden, and the very tiny hero who saves the day.

Our story is called “The Goat in the Garden.” Versions of this tale have been told all over the world, including Latin America, much of Europe, even parts of the United States.  Read more versions of the story HERE.

Voices in this episode include one half of “Click and Clack, The Tappet Brothers,” from the legendary NPR program, “Car Talk”: Ray Magliozzi as well as Lauren Weisman, Rosi Amador, Alisa Amador, and Brian Folkins-Amador.  Learn more about the Amador family and their voice over and creative work HERE.

“The Goat in the Garden,” was adapted by Jessica Alpert and Rebecca Sheir. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Casting by Amy Lippens, CSA, along with help from our Executive Producer, Jessica Alpert. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.


ADULTS! Print out this picture  so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it!

Things To Think About After Listening

When was the last time you helped someone solve a problem? Maybe you lent a hand with a friend’s homework or you offered a family member some advice?

Think about a time-- when like the ant--you helped get someone out of a bind. Tell a grown-up in your life all about it. Then ask them to share a time they came to someone’s aid. After all as the ant in the story shows, no matter how big or small we are, we all can be heroes and save the day.

Story Transcript

NARRATOR: Of all the people in Sofia’s life, she loved her husband and daughter the most. But of all the things in Sofia’s life, she loved her vegetable garden the most.

SOFIA:  Hello, my perky little peppers! My ravishing radishes! My beautiful beans! How are you, my lovely lettuces? Perhaps you’d like a sprinkling of water before the sun comes up?

NARRATOR: Sofia grew enough vegetables in her garden to keep her family well fed… with just enough vegetables left over for Sofia’s husband, Simon, to sell at the market.

Every morning, while Sofia was making breakfast, her daughter, Olivia, would venture out to the garden and pick vegetables for that night’s dinner. Then she’d go on her way to school.

But one morning, while visiting the garden, Olivia saw something that made her jump.

OLIVIA: (gasps)

NARRATOR: She tossed her empty basket high in the air as she scurried back to her mother, who was flipping pancakes in the kitchen.

SOFIA:  Olivia, you weren’t even outside for two minutes! Did you already pick all the vegetables for din –  Oh my goodness! You’re white as a ghost! What happened?

NARRATOR: Trembling, Olivia pointed toward the kitchen window.

OLIVIA:  Look for yourself.

NARRATOR: Sofia peered out the window, toward where Olivia was pointing. There, in the middle of the garden, was the biggest, hairiest billy goat Sofia had ever seen. The goat was trampling all over the ground, gobbling up everything!

SOFIA: Oh! My vegetables!

OLIVIA: What are we going to do, Mama?

NARRATOR: Sofia pursed her lips and furrowed her brow. Then she stood up as tall as she could, and put her hands on her hips.

SOFIA: I tell you what we’re going to do. I’m going to march out there, right now, and make that billy goat go away!

NARRATOR: So Sofia strutted outside and approached the billy goat. She noticed his mouth was full of turnips.

SOFIA: Good morning, billy goat. What a fine breakfast you’re enjoying! But, listen. You’re young, you’re strong, and you can find food anywhere else. Anywhere! So, please: get out of my garden!

NARRATOR: The goat glared over at Sofia and began… to speak.

BILLY GOAT: Huh. Don’t you know who I am? I am the billy goat from the hills and mountains! So... you get out!

NARRATOR: Then he whipped his head around and charged toward Sofia, his horns all set.

SOFIA:  Ay, ay, ay!

NARRATOR: Sofia ran back to the house as fast as she could.

SOFIA: Olivia! Open the door! Open the door! The billy goat is after me!

NARRATOR: Puffing and panting, Sofia dropped onto a kitchen chair. Olivia lay a hand on her mother’s quaking shoulder.

OLIVIA: Don’t worry, mother. Maybe we just need to explain a few things to him. I will go out there, and I will make that billy goat go away.

NARRATOR: So Olivia made her way outside and approached the billy goat. She noticed he was now chomping on carrots.

OLIVIA: Good morning, billy goat. What a delicious breakfast you’re having! But, you have to understand. My mother spends hours tilling the soil, planting the seeds, pulling the weeds... So, please, please, get out of her garden!

NARRATOR: Just as he did with Sofia, the billy goat glared at Olivia… and began to speak.

BILLY GOAT: Huh. Don’t you know who I am? I am the billy goat from the hills and mountains! So... you get out!

NARRATOR: Then he reared his legs up in the air and bowed his head and horns low, ready to charge.

OLIVIA:  Ay, ay, ay!

NARRATOR: Olivia sprinted back to the house as fast as she could.

OLIVIA: Mother! Open the door! Open the door! The billy goat is after me!

NARRATOR: And she, too, tumbled inside the kitchen. Just then, her father, Simon, came downstairs for breakfast, before heading out to market. He noticed his wife puffing and panting, and his daughter on the verge of tears.

SIMON: My darlings! My loves! What’s wrong?? Has something happened?

NARRATOR: Olivia was too distraught to answer, so Sofia spoke up. She pointed a shaky finger toward the window.

SOFIA:  Look for yourself.

NARRATOR: Simon gazed out the window and spied the billy goat. By now, the goat was covered in pulp and seeds as he tore into Sofia’s bright orange pumpkins.

SIMON: Don’t you worry, my darlings. Maybe he just needs some sympathy. I will go out there and I will make that billy goat go away.

NARRATOR: So Simon marched outside and approached the billy goat. The goat looked up from his smashed pumpkins.

SIMON: Good morning, billy goat. Boy, it’s no wonder you’re enjoying such a hearty breakfast; you must work really hard! All that… (uncertain, trying to find the word) billy-goating you do all day. But my family, we work hard, too, and we need these vegetables, so please: get out of the garden!

NARRATOR: Now the billy goat glared at Simon. Then… yes… he began to speak.

BILLY GOAT: Huh. Don’t you know who I am? I am the billy goat from the hills and mountains! So... you get out!

NARRATOR: The billy goat reared up his legs and stomped back down again, sending up a cloud of dirt and pumpkin seeds.

SIMON: Ay, ay, ay!

NARRATOR: Simon scampered back to the house as fast as his legs could carry him.

SIMON: Sofia! Olivia! Open the door! Open the door! The billy goat is after me!

NARRATOR: Simon staggered into the kitchen, his heart thumping a million beats a minute.

SIMON: (as his heart races) I’m sorry, my loves. I couldn’t get the billy goat to leave. Now all the pumpkins are gone.

OLIVIA: And the carrots!

NARRATOR: Sofia glanced outside.

SOFIA: And… oh no... everything else!

NARRATOR: Indeed, by this time, the billy goat had ravaged the entire garden. In fact, it looked less like a vegetable garden now, and more like vegetable soup! Olivia sighed.

OLIVIA: (sighs) Now, we’ll have nothing to eat.

SIMON: (despondent) ...And nothing to sell.

SOFIA: ...And I’ll have to start the whole garden over from scratch! (beat) But even then: who’s to say the billy goat won’t return from the hills and mountains again?

NARRATOR: Just then, Sofia, Simon and Olivia heard a small voice call out to them.

ANT: Hey! I’ll make sure that billy goat never comes back! I’ll just need a little something… in return.

SOFIA: (looking around, not sure who she’s talking to) Hello? Who are you?

OLIVIA: (looking around, not sure who she’s talking to) And where are you?

SIMON: (looking around, not sure who he’s talking to) We’re interested in your offer! Can you tell us –  Aghhhh!

NARRATOR: Suddenly, Simon felt a little sting on his left ear. He began shaking his head, and as he did, down dropped... a tiny black ant. Simon caught the tiny black ant in the palm of his hand.

SIMON: Wait! You’re the one who can make sure the billy goat never comes back?

OLIVIA: Why, you’re no bigger than a drop of water! What can you do?

NARRATOR: The little ant stood up as tall as she possibly could.

ANT: I can help you! That’s what I can do! I can get rid of the billy goat and make sure he stays in those hills and mountains forever! (beat) Only in exchange… I need something. Just a little something... if it isn’t too much trouble.

SOFIA: Of course not! We’ll give you anything!

SIMON: Yes! Yes! Anything at all!

NARRATOR: The little ant thought for a moment.

ANT: Alright, then… I would like some wheat for my family.

NARRATOR: Olivia looked at her mother and father.

OLIVIA: We we can do that, right?

SIMON: We can! We’ll give you two sacks full of wheat, little ant!

NARRATOR: The ant shook her head.

ANT: Two sacks full? Oh, I can’t handle that much.

SIMON: One sack?

ANT: Still, too much!

SIMON: Half a sack?

ANT: Still, too much!

NARRATOR: Now Sofia spoke up.

SOFIA: How about a few grains, then, little ant? Just enough for each member of your family?

NARRATOR: The ant smiled.

ANT: That… would be wonderful! I’ll take four grains: one for me, one for my husband, and two, for my twins.

SOFIA: You have yourself a deal!

NARRATOR: Once everything was settled… and Sofia had carefully placed four grains of wheat into a tiny sack… the ant crawled out of Simon’s hand… down the legs of the kitchen table… and disappeared through a crack in the wood floor.
Quietly, the ant scuttled over to the unsuspecting billy goat. Luckily, the goat hadn’t paid one lick of attention to the conversation inside the kitchen; he was too busy bending over the garden, gulping up every last bite of Sofia’s vegetables.
In a flash, the ant climbed up one of the goat’s legs. She crawled across his hairy back and dashed over to his right ear. Then… she bit down… hard.

BILLY GOAT: Ouch!!!!

NARRATOR: The goat raised one of his legs to scratch himself, but then…


NARRATOR: … the ant scurried over to his other ear, and bit that one, too. Now, she was running up and down his back, taking tiny, sharp bites as she went.

BILLY GOAT: Oh no! An ant hill! I have stepped on an ant hill!

NARRATOR: The billy goat bucked up his legs and leaped out of the vegetable garden. Believing he was covered with ants, he began rolling around on the ground to shake all of them off.

The billy goat kept rolling and rolling, faster and faster… and next thing you know, he had rolled all the way back to the hills and mountains, where he remains to this day!

As for the little ant, well... now that she’d helped out Sofia and her family, she was excited to take her four grains of wheat back home to her own husband and kids. But four grains of wheat, it turns out, is too heavy a load for one little ant to carry! So, Sofia, Simon and Olivia each lent a hand. The ant carried the first grain… Sofia carried the second… Simon carried the third… and Olivia carried the fourth. And they were all happy… having helped out a new friend in need.

Headshot of Rebecca Sheir

Rebecca Sheir Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.



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