"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

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Being a ruminant, I have a lot of time to, well, ruminate. To this end, I have, of late, been reflecting on the idea of existentialism, and have concluded that goats are indeed existentialists. "Oh, God-Love-A-Cow, Marigold. What are you talking about now???" Calm down. It's okay. Really. Just hear me out.

Existentialism is the idea that an individual can create the meaning and essence of their own life as opposed to it being defined or created for them. I like this idea. It is completely in keeping with the philosophy held by most goats - or at least most goats with an iota of intelligence. Why should we let someone else define our life simply because they hold the key to the barn? Moreover, why should we let someone else create a life for us simply because they happen to weigh more or have a harder head? I ask you, does it not hold true that the individual existed before the essence of the situation? Of course they did!

Now then, there are seven major concepts governing the existentialist approach . These would be: 1) Existence Precedes Essence. There is not even a question here. It goes without saying that one simply 'is' far before one thinks about having an aroma. Except, of course, in the case of bucks. With bucks I think the essence may come first - or at least that's how it smells.

The second concept is: 2) Dread. Oh, Fat-Goats-Don't-Float! Dread is the major component of herd dynamics. One always dreads. There are so many factors involved here. Things like dreading hoof trimming day, dreading getting caught between Boo and any other immovable object, dreading getting caught between Boo and any item thought to be food, dreading getting creamed because Ella thought you were going to get to the Peanuts before her. I mean the list just goes on and on.

So, forget that one and let's get on to No. 3) Bad Faith. Okay. Admittedly I don't know much about bad faith. I tend to be rather on the optimistic side myself. I usually see the jar as half full of Peanuts and have faith that if we run out Costco will have more. Still, I can see where a lot of less fortunate goats might not know where their next Peanut is coming from. In that sense, I imagine bad faith could take hold and govern one's existence. Presumably we are rather lucky in that respect.

Anyhow, the fourth concept is: 4) Freedom. Oh, don't even get me started! I mean exactly why do we have fences anyway? It certainly isn't to keep the goats in. You could go talk to my old friends, Baby Belle and her daughter, Hannah Belle, and get a pretty good grip on understanding this idea. So,
Naturelment!, the fences are to keep the coyotes and other such border encroachers out. Freedom, after all, is a goat's God-given RIGHT, for goats' sake!!!

The fifth concept is two-fold and by far my favorite! No. 5) is The Other and the Look. Ay, yi, yi!, Lucy! I LOVE this one! You see the Other (notice that capital 'O'?... has to have the capital 'O'.) The Other is the experience of another free subject who inhabits the same world as you do. (See. There's that whole freedom thing again.) Anyway, basically it is the idea that you experience the other subject and then you give them The Look. Now, of course, we all know about The Look. Especially mothers. Mothers have The Look down to a science. Mother or not, I can tell you right now that Watson and Peanut get The Look from me quite often - usually followed by The Butt, but that is beside the point. You can rest assured that there is not a goat living on this planet who does not fully comprehend and embrace the ideology behind the concept of The Other followed by The Look.

So, now, we come to concept No. 6) Reason as a problematic defense against anxiety. Ha! Ha!, I say!!! The goatmother tries to pull this one on us all the time. We are anxious because we know she is about to trim hooves. She tries to reason that if our hooves become long and look like elf shoes, we will have extreme difficulty walking - unless, of course, it snows. This does absolutely nothing to relieve our anxiety and that is certainly problematic. Another example would be when we see the coyote in the pasture. The goatmother scares it away and then reasons that it can't get through the fence with the electric wire and why would it want a bunch of fat goats anyway? I mean, what does she think we are here? A bunch of Nubians? We all remain anxious. Even Boo, but then Boo is a Nubian. Therefore it's just problematic anyway you look at it.

The last concept just makes a good summary as far as I'm concerned. Concept No. 7) is the Absurd. Oy. This would be life without Peanuts. There is simply no other way to describe a life without Peanuts. And, believe me, I certainly dread any kind of existence preceding the essence of Peanuts, and reason, problematically against the anxiety created by this thought. I know that I have the freedom to give THE LOOK to any Other goat or person who has bad faith and doesn't realize just how Absurd this kind of existence might be.

" I stick my finger into existence - it smells of nothing. Where am I? What is this thing called the world? Who is it that has lured me into the world? Why was I not consulted?" - Soren Kierkegaard.

A life without Peanuts? How existential.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Ides of July

Ola! Things have been pretty dull here lately. Serene summer days of warm balmy temperatures, passed in sluggish pursuit of languid mastication. (What did she say???) Oh, never mind. The fact of the matter is that things have been relatively boring and no one, including myself, has felt much like doing anything other than what is deemed absolutely necessary (like waiting patiently for Peanuts, eating grass, butting Ella the hay OUT of the way...). Yes, it has been quite an uneventful time filled with the pleasant passing of halcyon days. (There she goes again...) That is until today.

Welcome to the Ides of July. Okay. I know it is a little past the Ides, but it's past the full moon, so we can't put the blame there. And, it wasn't particularly hot, so I don't think we can figure that as the cause either. Nevertheless, the Ides of July seems to fit. So BEWARE THE IDES OF JULY!!! Oh, goat berries!!!! Just BEWARE, okay?

Now you are probably wondering (and who wouldn't be?) just why you need to BEWARE! Well, let me just tell you, that you are indeed lucky if you have managed to pass the day unscathed and untouched. Things started innocently enough. The goatmother came out and did her usual chores then wandered off to water. The goatfather, all a-twitter at finally having managed to get the aged 'grasshopper' mower running, was mowing the grass. Cabra and Quinn were doing what Cabra and Quinn usually do, which usually entails hunting for sticks and dead birds, and we goats were just lolling about doing all that serene summer stuff that I mentioned before. The first indication that something was not quite 'kosher' was when, after hearing the constant roar of the 'grasshopper, the goatmother heard nothing but silence. Uh, oh. So off she trotted, faithfully followed (or not so faithfully as the case may be) by Cabra and Quinn. She went down the road expecting to find the goatfather lying in the ditch still astride the grass-eating monstrosity, but didn't find him anywhere in sight. Finally she decided he must've gone down to the neighbors and, as it turned out, this is exactly what he had done. I mean if you do something fantastic, like resurrect a dinosaur, you certainly have to tell someone about it. So, as I said, that was the beginning.

Later, the goatmother was sitting out in a lawn chair, deep in thought about how much hay she needed to purchase this year for the goats (that would be me). As she sat contemplating the numbers, a bird came and sat on her lap. Not that this hasn't happened before. I believe the goatmother probably looks a lot like a statue or a lawn ornament , maybe a gnome, when she is in the throes of ratiocination. At any rate, when it happened before it was just a Pine Siskin. It is a well-known fact that Pine Siskins ... well, let's just say the term 'bird brain' had to start somewhere. However, this time the bird was not a Pine Siskin, but a Finch. It sat there and looked at her. She looked back. It flew over to the fountain and got a drink. It. Was. A. Sign.

There is a tree near the house which was just planted last year. It is quite a nice tree. It is such a nice tree, in fact, and Cabra loves it so much, that she has decided to dig it up to preserve it. At least that is the best explanation we have been able to come up with. So, the goatmother had previously placed quite a bit of nice wire at the base of the tree in order to keep Cabra from trying to relocate it. Today, being thoughtful, the goatmother removed the wire so that the goatfather could easily mow around it. That was nice wasn't it? Cabra thought so. She waited until the goatmother had given her a nice bath so she would be all presentable when she went to visit her favorite tree and try to relocate it once again. It was the Ides. The goatmother should have paid attention to the bird. I'm sure, in retrospect, that it was trying to warn her.

So, you know, in the Fall and Winter, we tend to lose electrical power quite often in this part of the country. It is just a given. Today the power went out. It was the Ides. I'm sure of it.

Then the goatmother went down into the little basement/cellar to get a couple of cans. This is where they keep extras. I mean, if you shop at those big bulk stores you simply must have somewhere to keep the large quantities, right? Good thing too, because this is where they get the Peanuts. Anyway, I digress. The goatmother entered the basement and a mouse came running out to greet her. I could have told her it was just one of those stupid ones from the barn that got bored and went on a little vacation, but she yelled, threw up her hands and ran the other way. Oy. It was the Ides again. It is affecting everyone - even the stupid mice.

So then a deer decided to saunter through. Cabra ran. Quinn barked. We, the goats, and the only intelligent ones here, stomped and snorted and ran into the barn. We are not cowardly, mind you, it is just that if you actually watch those deer, they tend to take it as encouragement and I AM NOT sharing my Peanuts with anyone! It had to be the Ides. It just had to be.

Finally the goatmother came out to give us our nightly ration of hay. (Thank you, God. Grass is good but hay is better. Not, of course, as good as Peanuts, but we get those too. I know...SHUT UP, Marigold, and get on with the story!) Now Ella has a ball. Don't ask me why, but she likes the thing. It is a large rubber ball with the face of a jack-o-lantern on it. The ball has been there for some time and it needs a little air, so it is a bit lopsided. In order to keep it from the Mighty Quinn (who covets ALL things ball), the goatmother puts it on top of a stack of hay. The stack is five bales high. It was in the middle of the stack. Was. When she came in, it was on the floor. How did it get down there? Earthquake? Mouse bending it like Beckham? I think not. It was the Ides.

Then the Ides executed its final coup. It had the audacity to affect the goats. I stood on the cement blocks snorting and looking off where the deer had gone and refused to go into the barn. Boo kept trying to butt me off the cement blocks. Peanut was trying to butt Watson, but that is an everyday, every-minute occurrence, so that doesn't count. But then Ella went after Watson and pinned him to the wall. He froze (naturally) and instead of backing off, she went at him again and again. The goatmother had HAD ENOUGH! She yelled at Ella and executed the most heinous of all goatmother goat punishments. She pointed her finger!!! Oh. My. Goat. She pointed her finger. She promptly put Ella into one side of the barn, lured the no-way-is-she-food-challenged Boo in and then chased me like a herding dog. I was no match for her fury. I ran in and she latched the door behind me. Last I saw her, she was stomping toward the house grumbling under her breath.

So, my friends. Beware the Ides. They may soon be making a stop at a location near you. Ah, yes. Beware!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Lesson In Plant Reproduction

Oh, No!!! Cover the children's eyes! Marigold is talking about reproduction, for goats' sake!!! Fear not, dear friends, it is not at all what it seems, and I assure you, rated quite 'G' (suitable for Goats and other Generally superior audiences.)

You see, plants have a variety of ways to spread themselves around, as it were. You know, 'be fruitful and multiply'...that sort of thing. Some plants, like our infamous dandelions, produce a puffy little gathering of seeds that, when caught by the wind, scatter hither and yon, setting forth and establishing new and multitudinous generations of giant Pacific Northwest monsters. Simply put, they fly off to boldly go where no leviathan dandelion has gone before.

Then there are those plants who bear their seeds in an enticing little package, tempting feeble-minded and unsuspecting souls (like Pine Siskins, Douglas squirrels and those stupid mice in the barn) to eat them, digest, and later disperse their 'wares' all over the place. (Usually right on some nice blade of grass I was considering for breakfast.) Examples of this would be the ever-present Blackberry (in all its many forms from 'Trailing' to 'Himalayan'), Black-Cap Raspberries, Salmon Berries, Thimble Berries, or even plain old Apples, Cherries, Plums or Pears. This seems to be a popular route for many plants - sort of the 'Smith' of seed dispersal. Well, I suppose, in order to be a complete success, it is a good idea to involve the masses from time to time.

But then, there are some plants that like to live on the edge. They prefer to create little 'barby' seeds (no, not the doll) that lie in wait for some unsuspecting, inattentive, self-possessed and furry little creature to saunter by, brush up against them (or go crashing through, as the case may be...) and become hopelessly entangled.. Later, when the animal cleans itself, the seeds are pulled out and re-located into some other prime real estate district, free to carry on.

Enter Cabra. What you see below is the ultimate in seed dispersal systems. I assure you, the previous owner of the seeds you see embedded here promptly contacted every plant in its address book and broadcasted the whereabouts of the boundless opportunity at hand. Cabra, always one to be helpful, obliged accordingly. Of course the goatmother was forced to intervene, which involved a bath and a blowdryer, all of which had absolutely no effect. Finally, a comb had to be laboriously applied to the uncooperative little hitchhikers, while the goatfather gathered them up as they fell to prevent further infiltration.

Sad isn't it? Here, allow me to show you a close-up view. Oy. I mean OY.

Now this would never happen to a goat. In the first place, a goat would never even consider going into some of the places the Cabrarator goes. And second, a goat would simply rub off any 'Klingons' foolish enough to try hitching a ride. Isn't that what trees and fencing are for? Still, I suppose when you are a frou-frou farm dog possessing super-heroic quantities of detritus magnetism and a Phyllis-Dillerian, coat of cotton, this sort of thing is bound to occur. Perhaps this is one way in which Cabra can define herself as she grows. After all, "Hair brings one's self-image into focus; it is vanity's proving ground. Hair is terribly personal, a tangle of mysterious prejudices." ~ Shana Alexander. A tangle indeed. I guess the plants already know who she is.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Stuff and Such

Well, for goatness' sake. It has been quite awhile since I've been able to get near the computer. Let's just say there are far too many succulent bits of greenery out there right now, and leave it at that. After all, only the foolish would pass on such an opportunity. Still, sometimes the muse wins.

As you well know, the weather here, of late, has left a LOT to be desired. Of course , if you like gray, rain, cold...rain....cold.....rain......did I say cold?........then you might not find it such a challenge. But honestly, we've only made it above 60 in the last few days, leaving me to seriously consider two things. 1) Why in the world did I shed my winter coat?, and 2) Do they actually make igloos for goats? Nevertheless, at least we haven't had any floods or tornadoes, so maybe it hasn't been all that bad. I don't know about you, but I simply do not find the image of floating and/or flying goats all that appealing.

Despite the gloom and doom, or perhaps instead because of it, one resident faction has thrived. This would, in fact, be the dandelions. You know, those banal, cut-leaved rosettes sporting the jaunty yellow flowers that soon turn to fuzzy puffs? Why, oh, why couldn't it be Peanuts growing happily, spreading more happy little Peanuts to the winds to be found and cherished by some lucky goat? Oh, well...if wishes were Peanuts...

So, for your edification (and to make my point, of course), I offer you the picture below. This is a Pacific Northwest form of the common dandelion shown in it's native habitat and growing in an optimal El NiƱo year.
"Oh, that's just a plain old dandelion, Marigold. We have tons of those", you say. "That's nothing to write home about, you stupid goat!"

Ah, yes, but that is until you realize that is a full-sized tennis ball sitting in the middle of that monster! And, just so you don't think this is merely an isolated incident, here is yet another one.

Yes, indeed! This is some major herbage! As a matter of fact, I have recently noticed Watson has taken one for a pet and begun calling it Seymour. He talks to it. Oy. Well, I suppose that's okay. It keeps him off the streets and out of the Peanuts. Besides, you know what Ralph Waldo Emerson said. "What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered" Keep looking, Watson.

I just hope he doesn't decide to start a dandelion farm. Oy.
Oh, Shhhhhh!!! Shut the hay up, will you, Marigold?!