"If providence did beards devise,
To prove the wearers of them wise,
A fulsome goat would then, by nature,
Excel each other human creature." - Thomas D'Urfey

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Anatomy of a Picky-Snit

The weather has been dreary, which means a lot of time spent stuck in the barn because, you know, I just don't do rain.  Anyway, it has given me a lot of time to think, and one of the things that occurred to me was that I'm always going on about the picky-snit.  Because, really, that's how I am; I get started on a subject and then there I go and everybody better have their minds engaged and their seat belts fastened.  In light of that, I thought it likely that some of you might just be wandering about with a blank look on your face going, 'What the hay is a picky-snit?  That Marigold is always going on about picky-snits and I just don't understand what that means.'  Or something like that.  So, since I seem to have so much time on my hooves of late, I decided I'd just fill you in a bit on that subject.

Getting down to brass tacks, as it were, first allow me to describe the physical properties of the picky-snit.  It works like this:  something is offered to a goat.  Now normally, even if said offering is not good to eat, any reasonable goat will at least smell it to see what it is.  If it smells good, then it is snatched hurriedly into the mouth before anyone else has a chance to get near it.  However, for a goat infested with the picky-snits, this is where all semblance of normalcy ends.

Yes, the goat will sniff, but after that there are several ways in which the picky-snit may be manifested.  The most common form is when the offered prize is sniffed, then the lips clamp shut and the head is turned away as though recoiling from a nasty odor.  Occasionally the offering will be sniffed and may even make it as far as the mouth, but then it will be crunched once and consequently spit back out along with a plethora of sound effects.  Almost an accusatory action rife with an air of, 'WHAT the hay are you trying to do, POISON me????!!!!'

The second way in which a picky-snit may be manifested is when the goat smells the offering, takes it into the very front part of the lips and then begins to shake the head up and down.  This occurs as if to say, 'What the HAY is that???!!!!  I thought it was something good to eat, but now ... Ewwwww!!!!  It touched my lips, it touched my lips!!!!!   Oh, the HORROR!!!!!  GET.   IT.   OUT.    NOW!!!!!'  There does seem to be a bit of a variation on this theme in which the picky-snitter gets as far as shaking the head up and down, but in the ensuing motion, the offering is smashed to bits.  The latter scenario seems to happen a lot to Nubians and seems to occur because they actually forgot they were putting anything into their mouth in the first place rather than because whatever they put in there was actually distasteful.

Now then, the third way the picky-snit shows itself is with a forward motion of the goat's head and the tongue sticking out ever so slightly.  This seems to occur in an attempt to sort of 'taste' the offering before it has a chance to actually reach the mouth.   Just in case.  'Just in case' it is a noxious substance, or perhaps because one is not really in the mood for a treat but does not want to appear ungrateful.  Mostly this occurs in cases that are not epidemic in nature - not full-blown cases, if you will.

Okay, so there you have the physical representations.  It would seem that, at our little farm, at least three goats are infected with the dreaded picky-snits.  Ella is the worst.  Actually you could say that about Ella in a lot of respects, but we shall refrain from further comment and stick solely to the subject at hand.  Ella ALWAYS wants to be first and wants to have EVERYTHING for herself.    So, Ella is ALWAYS first in line.  The trouble is, for reasons known only to her and maybe not even then, she is stricken by the evil picky-snit quite often. Too many of those times, however, the affliction results in the offered treat being spit out on the floor.    Naturally, no one in their right mind wants to touch what is now covered in a layer of spit.  It is simply unhygienic.  The problem is that Ella can't seem to just accept that she has been besieged by a picky-snit and keeps insinuating her nose in everybody's way for another treat.  Of course any ensuing treats are spit out as well, and that only serves to evoke THE WRATH OF THE GOATMOTHER.  ( Trust me on this.  You DO NOT want to incur the wrath of anyone who has to count points for their daily bread.  Not a wise choice, my friend.  Not wise at all.)  Actually, though, it all serves to be a blessing in disguise since it results in more treats for those who are not plagued by this unforgiving affliction. (That would be a picky-snit affliction and not a having-to-count-points affliction.  Just to be clear.)  Anyway, that blessed soul mentioned would be moi.  And Watson.  But I'm much faster than he is.

Anyway, Boo seems to be plagued by the second of the picky-snit manifestations - that one which seems to be unique to, or at least occurs mostly in, Nubians.  I don't believe that, with Boo, it is a case of the 'Ewwwww' factor at all, but strongly indicative of the 'What is that in my mouth and where did it come from?' factor.  The problem, here, is that once the head bobbing, smashing and subsequent falling out of anything that has actually made it to her mouth has taken place, she forgets that it happened at all and sticks her nose up for more of the same.  Rinse.  Repeat.  She only gets two chances before the Goatmother says, 'No way!  No more!  That's IT!'  Of course Boo never hears this and just carries on.  My theory is that it has something to do with the fact that since Boo's ears flop down, the sound never actually makes it to the eardrum.  As a result, all she hears is something akin to, 'Mwo Wah! Nuh Muh! Thsstt!'

The last of the manifestations, unfortunately, often befalls Peanut (the goat, not the nut.)  After his fourteenth bout of trying to butt Watson from atop the hoof trimming stand, Peanut will stretch his neck forward with his tongue sticking out just a teensy tiny bit.  When the treat comes near, if having a picky-snit day, he will draw back and refuse any except those thrown on top of the stand.  I have often thought that perhaps the Goatmother's hands stink on certain days.  I mean, who really knows?  But again, since I am never afflicted, more for me!  A win-win all the way.  Then my only competition is Watson since he, too, is never embarrassed by bouts of picky-snitedness.  However, since I am decidedly more nimble than any fainting goat, you can see to whom go the majority of spoils.

So there you have it.  I am quite sure, now that you understand the mechanics of the picky-snit, you will undoubtedly begin to recognize afflicted souls everywhere - at the office, at home, in your social endeavors.  Do try to remember that these souls are deserving of our pity.  Mostly.  Okay, maybe not so much.  I mean, how many times have I tried to tell Ella, 'Don't even go there.  You KNOW what the Goatmother is going to do.'  But has she ever listened?  To my way of thinking, all picky-snitters would do well to remember this:   "None pities him that is in the snare, who warned before, would not beware." -  Robert Herrick.


Mrs. Micawber said...

I always thought "picky-snit" explained itself. (I believe the word for that is onomatopoeia.)

So the myth that a goat will eat anything is ... a myth? Was James Herriot lying when he told the story of a goat who ate someone's drawers from off the clothesline? (Or is there just no telling what a Yorkshire goat may do?)

And dear, dear - so the Goatmother is really counting points? Does WW even ALLOW daily bread? Never say diet is my motto.

(Your motto is obviously "the polite and non-picky-snit goat gets the peanut or whatever other treat may be going." A good and profitable motto to have.)

Terry said...

Our version of the picky-snit includes sneezing. And then pointed looks of dismay. Oh, and the object of the picky-snit changes daily. One day it's green beans, the next day they're delicious, but the carrots aren't. Have to keep the Goat Maid on her toes.
--- Pip and Caper

Marigold said...

Dear Mrs. Micawber,
No goat I know will eat anything. Most goats will eat something, but few goats will eat nothing. Some goats might come close to eating everything though.
In the Goatmother's defense, she has lost 14 pounds so far on WW. So perhaps all that counting is doing *some* good. Soon perhaps we'll both be able to fit through the gate at the same time. Who knows? But yes, on WW you can have anything you want. You just have to count it.
Lastly, I have to say that perhaps I am not always as *polite* as I might be. Still being immune to the picky-snit does prove profitable.

Marigold said...

Dear Pip and Caper,
Are you both afflicted with the picky-snits? I am sorry. Still, if you don't have attacks at the same time, at least one of you profits. As for that GoatMaid...I sure hope you treat her well. Good domestic slav...er, help is so hard to find these days.

J (drinking tea) said...

This was an enlightening discussion. Thank you, Marigold.

I finally know what to call it when mister fuss-pants acts up. He performs the picky-snit to a tee: sniff, crunch, sober, spit, head movements and vocalizations.

This is a case where fiction and real-life overlap. Please don't tell me, "it's just a story." Your words ring true.

I am beginning to wonder--oh the shock, oh the horror--if I married a barnyard baby. Am I the only one?

Less thinking and more action.

Back to shoveling mister fuss-pant's patties. I hate when he just leaves them anywhere he pleases; at least he no longer drop kicks them against the walls.

Training paid off.

Marigold said...

Dear J,
Oh, no, this is not just a story. No indeed. Perhaps you should be worried - or not. Not, because the picky-snits seem to occur in 'bouts' and can not be said to be exactly a chronic condition. Still, I suppose there are exceptions to every rule. Does this mean you are going to get concentration wrinkles like the Goatmother? I sincerely apologize if I have given you much too much food for thought. Nonetheless, there's nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade. I'm just sayin' ...

Snowcatcher said...

The Goatmother will have to use that fancy schmancy camera to immortalize the tight lips. That's just too awesome a description not to offer photographic evidence!

Claire the Shepherdess said...

Ah-hah! I think we have some afflicted members of the goat family right here in Nova Scotia. Fezzik tends to have a picky-snit when things are not cut into small enough pieces for him...notably grapefruit peels. Lucky Nickel has a picky-snit until she has checked all the grain pans to see if any are better than the others, and butts everyone away until she has chosen, even though they all contain the same thing. Caramel and Inigo do not seem to have the picky-snits.

Marigold said...

Dear Snowcatcher,
Fear not! The day will come. But so far *life* has been getting in the way. Well *life* and *points*. Darn those points!

Marigold said...

Dear Claire,
First, let me say that I am so sorry to learn that members of your household are afflicted. It is a burden. Believe me, I know. But then I have to say, Grapefruit peels? Someone actually eats grapefruit peels? Oy. I think that may actually be causing the affliction. I mean, C'mon...Grapefruit peels?

Millie said...

We certainly have a couple of those poor afflicted souls here. I must say, I am not one. I happen to be very good at getting as close to the human as possible and devouring as many treats as possible before any of those picky-snitters even notice that treats are around.

I must agree with you on the grapefruit peels too. Just sounds bad.

Marigold said...

Dear Millie,
Great minds think alike... and are faster than anybody else.

Kelly said...

Thank you for making that plain. What kind of goat is a wait and see if the other goat likes it, then get offended because that was the last treat? I bet it is the Nubian part of the nubian/saanan mix Annie?

Marigold said...

Dear Kelly,
I can't say as I've ever really met a Saanen, though I have one that reads my blog. Still, I think you are likely right on the mark about such an occurrence being the result of Nubian genetics. It just makes sense.

Claire the Shepherdess said...

The herd appreciates their vitamin C content, here in the northern climes, where citrus is a revered and noble thing. They all love grapefruit peels (although Fezzik has a particular predilection for them) and they likewise adore limes and oranges. Lemons seem to be lower on the citrus totem pole, so to speak. Still, they do get eaten. And the fresh goat breath is just one of the side benefits!

Marigold said...

Dear Claire,
Who knew? I suppose we'll have to try it, although I don't think Ella will go for it. Still, if it is good, then more for the rest of us!