I wanted to get goats, because my people in ancient times were shepherds, and because I could be in nature, and the goats would provide me with milk for yogurt and goat cheese to sell and also hair for sweaters. Also goats eat garbage. So I would be able to live outside with animals and they would convert garbage into milk and hair which I could convert into cheese and sweaters and then sell. Also goats are cute. When I was living in India the goats would sleep at night in the cabs of the cycle rickshaws; when the rickshaw drivers woke them up in the morning the goats would walk a few paces on their knees and elbows before stretching and righting themselves. Also in Chinese astrology, my animal is a goat. I used to think my animal was a sheep, but my friend Vanh who shares the same animal set me straight. “No, man. You’re a goat.” I knew what Vanh meant. The goat was an animal that didn’t kill to survive, but was also nobody’s fool in a fight, protecting itself by butting with those horns. And isn’t the go-it his own way goat, the hairy, non-human half of the awesome nature god Pan a better thing to be than some conformist sheep? Yes.
I went to an an internet site called goatfinder.com where in addition to learning that there is such a product as goat milk soap, I found out I could get a pygmy doeling for two hundred bucks. Now consider the beauty of the business plan hatching in my head. Remember goats eat garbage which is free. Supposing I got ten goats for two thousand dollars. The goats would grow for nothing and would start producing milk and hair in a few months. A single nice goat sweater can sell for two hundred dollars. A single glob of goat cheese can go for like five dollars at the health food store. A little back of the envelope calculation showed me that in three months I would have paid off by AMEX bill for the initial purchase, at which point my goats would be scampering little vertical-pupilled money machines.
Another cool thing about goats is – the word for capricious comes from the Latin for goat, specifically , little goat. So when the Supreme Court accused somebody or other of acting in an “arbitrary and capricious fashion” what they literally meant was “don’t act like a little playful goat.”
I ordered a magazine on the internet called GOAT. It was a the size of a regular piece of paper folded over with a slightly thicker card stock cover (which had a picture of a goat on it) and had articles about goat care and breeding which were also illustrated by photocopied pictures of goats. GOAT magazine came out six times a year. I was eager to get it out of my mailbox. I asked my wife, who thought I was an idiot for wanting to get goats “Did my issue of GOAT come yet?” I would tear through it for pictures of cute goats, impressive goats with long curly horns, awesome wooly goats whose coats looked like boiled spaghetti.
Then I started to read it and I started to wonder if my wife, who knew me quite well, was not in fact on to something. The articles in GOAT made me worry about the practicality of my goat plan. For one thing, the same kind of goat doesn’t make wool for sweaters and milk for cheese. For another thing, if you are growing the goat with the long hair for sweaters, it is a big problem keeping their coats healthy, because they get diarrhea and that gets in their wool and messes it up. For a third thing, if you are growing the goats that give good milk it is really hard to get them to give enough milk. Also you can’t just feed them tin cans. Goats stomachs are very temperamental. They have to have the right concentration of something called rumen. If they don’t have the right rumen they get sick and die.
In addition to incorrect rumen, there were also many diseases that according to GOAT magazine could cause a goat to get sick and die including: acetonemia, anemia, rinderpest, anorexia, arthritis, anthrax, bronchitis, brucellosis, Big-Head, Bloat, Cystitits, Contagious Ecthyma, Cystitis, Contagious Ecthyma, Collibacillosis, Chlamydiosis, Cheesy Gland (AKA yolk boils), Dermatitis, Eye Conditions (various), Dysentery, Entertoxaemia, Foot and Mouth Disease, Foot Rot (Benign, Mild, and Virulent Varieties), Ticks, Lice, Goat Pox, Hemmorhagic Septicemia, Heat Stress, Hypocalcaemia, Improper and Painful Hoof Trimming, Indigestion, Johne’s Disease, Insecticide Poisoning, Liver Fluke, Mycoplasmosis, Mastitis, Meliodosis, Metritis, Mange, Parasites, Ringworm, Salmonella, Scabby Mouth, Tape Worm, Pneumonia and Rabies. And these were just the common diseases. Almost all of them had the same symptom – diarrhea.
I gave up on my plan of becoming a goat-herd. What once had seemed like a path to riches, and a simple life now seemed like a trap that would bankrupt me, and keep me awake at night worrying about when the goat vet would get there, and clumps in fur, insufficient milk count, and crummy rumen; backyard a mess of dried goat diarrhea, the night’s peace shattered by the bleats of sick and dying kids and goats.
So I am left wondering:
Was my goat idea a bad idea?
Or was I just not the one to execute it?
Lord, grant me some day the wisdom to know the answer to these and other questions that jab and scour my stupid heart!