Saturday, October 20, 2007

The President of the Animal Kingdom 

"I didn't RTFA, so I'm just guessing gangs of wild goats ate the homeless. Once goats get the taste for human flesh, they'll never go back to tin cans again. This is problematic."

Goats destroy homeless habitat. I hope these goats famously indiscriminate digestive systems can handle all of the hypodermic needles.

Billy, Spoon and I pass by an overgrown hillside on our morning walk each day. The other morning the hill was covered with goats. The dogs were dumbstruck and stood frozen, staring in disbelief. We stood and watched the goats for awhile as they placidly and efficiently denuded the hillside. It was mesmerizing. The goats finished up the hillside in a few days but now every time we walk past the hill they smell the air and look for them.

I adore goats. I worked at the stables at my beloved summer camp all through college and graduate school. Every summer horses would arrive from several different stables from around the state and it would be 3 days of hell while they sorted out their pecking order. Once the hierarchy was established, the situation in the paddock was much more tranquil, although there were always a few who bore such enmity and bad blood for each other that we had to keep separated from each other permanently. This was especially crucial on trail rides or in the riding ring, when the horses wouldn’t let the fact that there were campers riding on them stop them from settling scores. One time when I was a camper on a trail ride I got my foot viciously kicked by my horse’s bitter enemy while it was trying to aim at my horse’s flank. A horse’s naturally sharp hooves are reinforced by steel shoes and I had to hobble around on crutches for a week. To prevent this sort of camper collateral damage we respected the horse’s enmity and were very careful about how the horses lined up.

This summer we quickly tired of tending to all of the bite marks and kick wounds. We mentioned the problem to the man who delivered the feed and he recommended that we get a goat to pacify the horses. He claimed that there was something about the distraction of having a goat around that would really cut down on the quarrelling. I was dubious, but I thought it would be fun to have a goat around, so we obtained one from a neighboring farmer and released it into the paddock. Sure enough, the next morning I saw the horses all gathered around it in a circle, watching it like it was the big game on television. The fighting ceased.

The goat was friendly and delightful. She soon began to put on airs, though, and decided she was too good to associate with the horses. She moved herself on up from the paddock to the tack room, which had a big ceiling fan and was where the humans hung out in between classes. She preferred the choicest spot directly under the fan, and if any of us where occupying it she would lower her head and butt us away before comfortably settling down. She began to accompany us on trail rides, trotting next to the lead horse, her head held high haughtily high. She was quite a personality.

Brian Fellows and the devil goat.

Poor goats.
So that thing about separating the sheep from the goats...what's wrong with goats again? They get uppity? I saw some fine goats at the State Fair on Saturday and they had costumes on with holes for their eyes and ears to keep them nice and clean for showing later in the day. They had huge diaper pins holding the flap of the back of the goat cover up so they wouldn't defecate on their outfits. The goats looked like they were in a beauty parlor getting all gussied up for some big event. And indeed they were.
I have a great picture somewhere of me heahbutting Nanny.
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