Monday, October 6, 2008

Holy Crap! Goats!

My parents live on the border of a protected wetland. They love it. Ducks, nutria, beavers, hawks and herons are what we watch from their porch. Bats and bullfrogs keep the mosquitos in line. The green and the water keep temperatures down in the summer. It's pretty wonderful.

But it's not without cost. There are many restrictions on what they can grow on their land and how they maintain it. One particularly thorny (no pun intended) aspect is what to do with their blackberry bushes. About a third of the land is covered with blackberries, a delicous but notoriously aggressive and sharp-edged plant. Every year they threaten to overrun the property and every year my parents have to find a solution that doesn't involve chemicals, power tools or other pollutants.

This year's answer? Goats!

Apparently, you can rent goats to graze your land for a day or a week. So Nelson and Desmond, two south african goats, are spending the week at my parents' place. They don't need much to eat, just some water, and they came with a little pre-fab barn to sleep in.

I think this might be the coolest thing I've heard of in ages.

What's more, it ties in to today's empathy project.

I opted out of doing the wheelchair thing. I'd done that once in high school and have a good friend who is wheelchair bound. There's not much new there for me. So I looked for something else and settled on a day without electricity. Today was going to be that day.

As the kids say, EPIC FAIL.

Let's ride on past the morning where my alarm clock woke me up and I ate breakfast with food from the refrigerator. Or how today was my day to volunteer at my son's school and I spent an hour with a copy machine. Or how, even after walking to the grocery store (the car has a battery after all) I got around in there because of electric lights and used an electric cash register/scanner doohickey to process everything.

Man, even using the toilet required electricity (not here, but that water doesn't get pumped by goats on a treadmill).

By noon I gave in. I think I got the point. We are so blessed by the technologies surrounding us. Sometimes they are an addiction, and I often fear they make us weak (or at least lazy). But wow, we have access to some amazing stuff and it's part of our lives every moment.

My electric bill is probably the best money I spend.

I thought it was going to be easy. Heck, I like camping. I sort of like black-outs, at least for a little while. I go on 'phone and email strike' a couple days every month.

But what I learned was that electricity is such a part of our lives, I totally failed to anticipate how much I'd have to prepare to do it right.

Wow. Seriously.

Thanks for listening.

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