Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Goat Whisperer

The first time my parents took me to a petting zoo, the goats tried to eat my hair. I don't remember anything about the outing, but my mother wrote about it in my baby book and I've seen pictures. (The benefit of being the first child - everything is so carefully documented.)

Some sort of bond was forged that day, between a little curly-haired blonde girl and the goat world. Or so I like to think. I do love goats - not in a hang-pictures-of-them-in-my-room sort of way. More in an appreciative and understanding sort of way. Goats are smart and silly and fun.

They're a domesticated animal, but their purpose is a bit in question. Sure, you can milk them and then drink that milk or use it to make cheese, but goat milk and its by-products are something of an acquired taste in the western world. Not quite loyal or housebroken enough to fulfill the duties of a dog. Not tasty enough to be traditional livestock. Not big enough to be ridden or pull things. As far as I can see, the purpose of goats is to have fun. Visit any petting zoo or farm and it is going to have a pile of goats.

On Sunday, Peter and I went to Airfield, a country house estate in Dublin. Only it doesn't really have the big country house. At least I didn't see it. What it does have are some nice gardens, some barnyard animals, and a small car museum. I'd always heard of the place - a little piece of the country right near Dundrum Shopping Centre. I'd been told it was a petting farm. It wasn't - it was a place that happened to have a few animals.

Maybe I was just viewing the place through the lenses of a resident of the Middle of Nowhere, but Airfield was a big disappointment. The only thing that saved the day and the outing was a goat. We were just about ready to leave but I remembered the place was supposed to have goats. So we sought out the goats, who were in a little pen next to the sheep barn. One goat, a weird looking breed who had long permed hair and odd flattened down shells of horns, stood on top of a table. The other goat, a more traditional-looking type, stood near the fence, just about in reach.

I made a few encouraging noises and the regular goat tenatively came a little closer. I started to scratch behind his years and around his horns. For some reason, goats love this. I think because it's a spot that they can never quite reach themselves, especially if they have long horns because the horns get in the way. I'd scratch and then stop and the goat would move closer. I'd take a step and the goat would keep up with me. Eventually, he was practically climbing out of the pen and when I stopped, he'd bang his horns against the fence. (That did freak me out a little.)

I've been a bit undecided about what I want to do for my birthday. Now, though, I think I have no choice but to take a goat husbandry class on Cape Clear Island.


At 14 March 2007 at 13:20, Blogger Terri said...

Goats are cute, aren't they?!
Now about that laptop... it may be something simple like the battery on the main board is dead. All computers have one, similar to a watch battery. If that's the case then getting it back up and running shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Yes I know this probably doesn't help you but as a techie (ok, ex-techie) I can't help throwing in my opinion.
If I were a vet I'd tell you about goat husbandry :)

At 14 March 2007 at 18:25, Blogger laurie said...

amazing, ann, amazing! a goat once ate my hair, too!
ok, just kidding about that.

but when i was in junior high school i had a friend who brought goats-milk-cheese and honey sandwiches to school for lunch every day.

to which we all said: yuck.

when is said birthday? and will you really take the class? (how do you have time to blog, do camogie, run every day, take care of a dog, fly off to dublin constantly, and, oh, yeah, work? i want your energy.)

At 14 March 2007 at 21:13, Blogger John of Dublin said...

I like your comments on goats, I suppose I've had similar subliminal thoughts without venting them but it's good to see you expressing it all so well in writing.

I also learned a few things from your comments and link re. Airfield - thanks. Embarrassingly for a born and bred Dubliner I've never visited it! But from what you say I'm not missing too much!

At 16 March 2007 at 06:43, Blogger -Ann said...

Terri - Thanks for putting the laptop into perspective. Given my history, it's easy to jump into Worst Possible Scenario thinking. I'll let you know what happens.

Laurie - That would have just been too weird, although your hair seems so nice and curly - perfect for goats. Was your friend Greek? Said birthday is at the end of July. I love my birthday.

Thanks for the energy compliment. Funny enough, when I look at the things I do, I see all the things I'm not doing but should be - writing more, lifting weights, studying my irish lessons.

John - Thanks. And indeed, you are missing nothing. If you want to go to decent petting farm, check out Glendeer in Athlone.

At 18 March 2007 at 22:05, Blogger laurie said...

another great posting! (the birthday one, i mean.)

i love birthdays, too. birthdays were a huge deal when i was growing up, simply because there were so many of us. if each of your nine siblings gave you a gift (and we were required to do so), and then the parents got you one or two, well, birthdays turned into huge productions simply because of the crowd.

we hung streamers from the chandelier in the dining room and piled the presents on the sideboard and always had homemade cake.

my mother let us choose the menu---i'll never forget the year i said i wanted "those bright, bright green peas, not those dull ones." and when dinnertime came we had mushy olive-green peas and i was so hugely disappointed that i cried.

she figured it out and said, "well, why didn't you TELL me you wanted frozen peas instead of canned peas?" and i just looked at her, 8 years old, not knowing the difference between peas, and certainly not understanding the incredible stress of being the mother of 10 kids, five of whom had birthdays in october.... (mine was the fourth celebration that month.)


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