10.11.2010 Thursday’s last hurrah and a few words about farm odors.

So, Friday rolled around and it was fairly a humdrum day with the livestock. I even opened up the beehives briefly without any mishaps. I had nice dull little post ready to go into the blog about how the trouble monkeys had moved on. But deep down, I knew,Thursday hadn’t quite finished yet.

A loose battery cable made a “hold-your-breath-and-hope-it-starts” adventure of getting the kids to their Saturday appointments. My daughter’s SAT test started 15 minutes later than it should have and ended 30 minutes later that it was supposed to, making my son miss the first half of his soccer game. Later, the minivan went toe-to-hoof with a deer. (Both survived to boast of their luck.) The daughter had to do one of those “emergency dismounts” when her horse refused a jump cause the mare is PMSing. Some fella thought traveling down the highway the wrong way would be entertaining. A fire in a power substation in a downtown Richmond skyscraper disrupted life for a lot of people. Fights at school. Computer systems crashing. Mayhem and chaos! It was everywhere. Not just me. But I think it’s over, for now.

Today’s lesson, class, concerns goats. I don’t have goats. And today, I learned why I probably won’t ever have goats. My neighbor has a pair of them and her young billy goat is just coming into his must, if that is the proper phrase. To put it succinctly, that billy goat stinks. And being inquisitive and friendly, he loves to share his stink by rubbing it all over you. Lordy, lordy, how it does get on your clothes and work its way into your skin! Though the stink doesn’t rank up there with skunk, it is a mighty powerful thing and is certainly enough to make dining unpleasant if you fail to remove the stink before dinner.

In all fairness, from what I’ve read about billy goats, it’s not a permanent affliction. Rather it’s related directly to the rutting season. In addition to the musky scent glands on their heads, billy goats pee on themselves during this special time of the year to make themselves irresistible to the ladies. What a way to celebrate a holiday, huh?

Before we moved to the country, I’d been around horses and cows enough to know I didn’t find their odors offensive. Sheep are pretty rank. Learned that at a sheep dairy a couple of years ago. I also knew, mostly from camping in Arkansas when I was in college, that the big commercial chicken houses have a really foul odor about them. Truthfully, my chickens do make a stink, but it’s a little one, as I relocate them every day. Pastured chicken stink is not pleasant like horse stink, but it’s quite bearable. And unlike goats, chickens don’t rub their stink all over you when you step into their pen.

Point is, being around livestock means being around stink. Some of those stinks are harder to get used to than others. I don’t know that I could get used to billy goat, but they are awfully cute and really adorable. But whew! It’s been hours and the memory of the smell is still stuck in the back of my throat. . . . yet, goats are rumored to eat the poison ivy that so torments my husband. Okay, maybe just a couple of nanny goats . . . next year.


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