The Newnan Times-Herald


Getting my goat

  • By Winston Skinner
  • |
  • Sep. 14, 2018 - 10:33 PM

Getting my goat

The Newnan Times-Herald

If I were a better person I’d feel guilty.

I should be spending my time praying for all the folks scrambling to stay afloat and alive as Hurricane Florence bashes the Carolina coastline, but I’m not.  

I’m focused on something else. I’ve considered the idea before, but this time, I’m serious.

I need a goat. Or rather, my yard does. I’m not too proud to mow, but after spending over 50 years behind – or on top of – a mower, the thrill is gone. 

Mowing is boring. It’s become a job.  And since my yard will never appear on the cover of Southern Living, I’m ready to let a goat or two have a go at my grass while I do something more suited to my lifestyle, like taking a nap or watching college football.

Several municipalities actually hire goats to keep the grass down on steep or dangerous landscaped areas, so why not me?

I’m already familiar with goats and their value as landscaping implements. My in-laws get goats from time to time, mostly to clear out areas overcome with branches, brambles and poisonous snakes. I’ve watched those goats in action, and they can tear through a thicket in a hoofbeat. They could flatten my fescue in short order.

And yes, I know all the drawbacks. The first one that comes to mind is dealing with a goat’s exhaust. Goats eat anything and whatever goes in has to come out. Goats leave plenty of fertilizer behind and don’t clean up after themselves, so that’s a consideration.

I’m also concerned about the neighbors.

If I lived on 50 acres in the country, I'd buy enough goats to make an Old Testament patriarch jealous, but I don’t. I have a measly two-and-a-half acres in a nice neighborhood stacked with fairly nice neighbors.

The extra acreage is more likely to sprout weeds than grass and needs regular clipping to keep the homestead looking civilized.  

I asked a teenager down the street if he was looking for work and described the job. He looked up from his Playstation controller long enough to say, “Is there an app for that?”  

Yay, progress. 

A goat could do the job, but I don't know what my neighbors would think if I hired a four-legged landscaper. And it's not like my neighbors are ultra snooty. Several have chickens. I think I once saw a domesticated panda prowling the stand of bamboo near the creek. 

A woman down the street even has a goat. But she keeps it penned up in the backyard.

That won’t work for me. My mowing goat has to be free to roam. And if I don't want it roaming down the street, that leaves two options: Fencing a huge yard or hiring a  goatherd to watch the beast while it works.

Since a chain-linked front yard is a no-no, I called a guy and and asked if an electric fence would work on goats. He laughed, then said, “A goat? Don't nothing work on a goat. It goes where it wants to.”

I guess I could get a long rope and tie the goat to a sweet gum tree while it gobbles, but I’d have to keep pausing the TV during episodes of  “Gunsmoke” to make sure it hadn't wrapped its rope around the tree and choked itself. 

On the bright side, the goat might just have a taste for sweet gum trees. if that happens, the critter and I will both be happy. 

If not, I hear grilled goat is pretty tasty.

Alex McRae is the author of “There Ain’t No Gentle Cycle on the Washing Machine of Love.” He can be reached at: