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Price of goats dropping with grip on reality

May 21, 2009

o If you like reading Tim Rowland, you'll love watching him. See what else Tim has to say

Beth tells prospective customers that our three baby Toggenburg goats "will never be cheaper than they are today." I suspect the reason is because, if we keep them around much longer, we will be so deeply insane that money will be of little comfort.

Every morning at 6, I open the door to their quarters, and a pile of goats falls out on my feet in a tangle of flailing legs, ears and noses, borne of the fact that they have all been leaning heavily against the impediment in wait for their morning bottles.

This noisy goat wad has to be painstakingly untangled before breakfast can commence, but they do not seem to realize that they are contributing to the delay. Once separated, they launch themselves at their bottles with imperfect accuracy -- more than once, the collision has sent a stream of warm goat milk straight into my eye which, take it from me, is not the Kellogg's best-to-you-each-morning way to start a new day.

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The littlest kid -- Abbie -- is the biggest pig and the biggest pain. She always finishes first, then proceeds to attack her brother Alvin and cousin Nick, trying to hog an extra gulp or two. Her preferred launch site for the invasion is from the top of my head where she has climbed (while I am still trying to feed Nick) in anticipation of a tactical air strike.

By this time, Alvin has finished and has draped himself around Beth's neck like a mink stole, until he realizes there are hijinks afoot, at which point he happily joins the Nick-Abbie bottle wrestle. Feeding these monsters pretty much leaves us exhausted, at 6:05 a.m.

But the kids are just getting warmed up.

We leave them in their shed while we go milk their mothers, and the noise they make in our absence can best be described as that of a Civil War re-enactment in the middle of a thunderstorm. We can hear multiple crashes and pounding. We do not know what they are doing, and we do not want to know. The revolutions of Europe may have been more productive, but they couldn't have been as loud.

Needless to say, at several points during the day we need to let them out to burn some excess energy. Mainly, they follow me around as I do the chores, which is a bit like having an audience of hyperactive gymnasts doing cartwheels and backflips through your work and destroying any chance of progress.

The happy little elves like to help me clean the horse stalls. The first time went along well enough, until Alvin decided to jump into the muck bucket. After about .02 seconds, he figured out that this was really a place he Did Not Want To Be, so he tried to extract himself post haste. He had landed in the bucket upside down, so he engaged in some goat version of the backstroke.

The result -- well, never mind the result, I'll just say that the next time I need to fertilize the pastures, I won't bother with a manure spreader; I'll just fill a big tub up with poo and throw a goat in it.

Struggling mightily, he was halfway out of the bucket when hapless Abbie wandered past. Alvin was struck by a clear case of mission-creep. If he could get out of the bucket AND destroy his sister with the same move, well that would be about the best day a baby goat could ever have.

And he did it, too. Or was about to, when the goat-missile Nick came flying into the party unannounced, crashing into Alvin, who careened into Abbie, and sending both sprawling -- effectively picking up the spare.

This is only a small slice of what goes on all day. There's more, of course. But it is enough to explain why, from the moment they were born, the price of goats has continued to come down.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video at www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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