June 08, 2022

Farmer’s Markets seem to be the ideal spot to walk you dog.  I have noticed this at our local market and other famer’s markets I have attended around the US.  Most of the dogs have been small breeds and puppies but I have noticed some large dogs.  Thankfully, the owners have been courteous and kept the dogs on a leash although it may be obeying the law as most cities and states require a dog be “under the control” of the owner when they are in public.  While the produce has yet to arrive at our market, several of the venders identify themselves as “farms”.  I have mentioned seeing them selling eggs and honey, but another staple seems to be cheese.  While one vender sells packaged cheeses from a friend’s Wisconsin farm, another sells a soft goat cheese they make from their own livestock.  Melissa bought some of this goat cheese and said it was very good.

When I looked online, I found the domestic goat (Capra hircus) is a species of goat-antelope kept as livestock.  The goat is a member of the animal family Bovidae and the tribe Caprini, meaning it is closely related to domesticated sheep (Ovis aries).  Goats are among the earliest animals domesticated by humans and archaeological evidence shows its domestication occurred in Iran around 10,000 years ago.  The most recent genetic analysis confirms the archaeological evidence that the wild bezoar ibex (Capra aegagrus) of the Zagros Mountains (western Asia) is likely the original ancestor of all domestic goats.  There are now over 300 distinct breeds of goat.  Goat is used for milk, meat, fur, and skins across much of the world.  Female goats are referred to as does or nannies, intact males are called bucks or billies, castrated males are called wethers, and juvenile goats of both sexes are called kids.  According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, there were more than 924 million goats in the world in 2011.

I was surprised when I noticed one of the farm venders walking what I thought was an ugly, skinny dog to their booth.  What I noticed first was that the animal walked with a limp and needed to be helped around.  Initially, the vender put the pet in one of the camp chairs they had brought to sit in.  It turned out the animal was quite agile as it was all over the three chairs, walking back and forth across them as they were lined in a row.  After they finished setting up, they put the animal on a leash and set it down in front of their tent.  When I took a good look, I realized it was not a skinny dog at all.  It was a goat.  The goat began to do what goats do and ate the grass in front of their booth.  While several children stopped to pet the goat, most paid it no mind.  Apparently, the goat became bored because when I looked over, it was eating the plastic tablecloth.  Again, that is what goats do.

THOUGHTS:  When I was at the archaeological site of Petra, Jordan, the Bedouin were still living in and around the abandoned city.  While they mainly sold drinks and trinkets to the tourists, the children spent most of their day raising small goats.  One day the boys noticed as I set off to hike to the top of one of the surrounding mountains.  It only took me 30 minutes to follow the path to the top, but when I arrived two of the boys had set up a stand selling cold drinks for my refreshment.  They not only beat me to the top by another route but had brought their goat herd with them.  Domestication of cereal gains (wheat, rice, and barley) and animals (sheep and goat) allowed the earlier hunter gathers of the Neolithic to settle down and form the beginnings of civilization.  While some now do not like the smell of domestic goat or the taste of goat milk and cheese, we might still be wandering nomads without them.  When other people are different it can take getting used to, but together we can change the world.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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