Friday, June 29, 2007

As lawn mowing implements, our goats are worthless. Well maybe not worthless, just selective in their application.

I take full responsibility for their selectivity.

When we first entertained the goat proposition, neither of us had ever owned livestock, much less goats. We researched them on the Internet. We read books. We interviewed goat owners. In accordance with the instructions provided, we erected a barn three times the recommended size. We established a pasture six times the recommended size. We built them a homespun jungle gym. We tried to introduce native habitat by building a stone mountain. And here is where were the folly of errors begins. We set up feed bins, which we faithfully place food in on a twice daily routine. We learned that they liked the delicacies of animal crackers and raisins. Given these delicacies and the ease of access, why toil with the bothersome task of wandering around, eating grass?

The animal crackers, raisins and twice-daily sweet-feed deliveries likely account for some degree of selectivity.

My extraordinarily precocious six-year-old nephew was not impressed with or amused by the irony of goats eating animal crackers. I swear they don’t teach kids anything in the Second Grade these days. When you find yourself saying to a six-year-old, “Get it? Animal crackers? Animals eating ANIMAL crackers? Look – there’s a goat shaped one, let’s see if Bam-Bam will eat it. . .” you know that your life or at least your sense of humor has dropped to a subterranean level.

About every six weeks or so, I bring the garden tractor down and spin through to knock back the pasture a little. After all, I wouldn’t want the goats to get chiggers from the tall grass. They seem to appreciate this and do save me the trouble of raking or baling, as they are content to trail me around and eat the clippings.

I have tried a Weight Watchers © version of the twice daily goat feeding, but they seem as aversive to the silly notion of self-restraint commonly referred to as a “diet” as the bi-peds here at MisFit Farm are. Days when goat feed is rationed or minimized, they loudly proclaim their displeasure, chasing along the fence, looking accusingly at me with those keyhole eyes and bleating, “heeeeeyyy, you forgot to put the rest iiiiinnnn. Baaaaad mommmmmy.”

I was at the feed coop several months ago when the fellow who runs the place remarked that I could save some change by just buying the pellets instead of the sweet feed. How to explain to a man who was practically born wearing those overalls that the goats prefer sweet feed?!?!

In their defense, they are wonderful with children (holding animal crackers), and have selected quite a bit of the undergrowth on the island for consumption. And the sound of their hooves trip-trapping across the bridge brings a smile every time.

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