Thou damned and luxurious mountain goat

I recently read Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson, which is set on an island in the Pacific Northwest in the 1950s. It contains a lot of descriptions of people gathering or growing their own food; fishing, digging clams, growing strawberries, raising chickens, etc.--which, I imagine, was so mmuch more common back then than it is now. For some reason I was really captivated by this, and I've been kind of obsessed with the idea of producing or gathering my own food ever since. And then today I read this article by a woman who was forced by the "Great Recession" to start living a more sustainable life--she went from buying goji berries and espresso at Whole Foods and Starbucks to buying seeds for a vegetable garden with food stamps, and dumpster diving to find fresh produce for her family. I was alternately horrified and shamed in reading it.

Shame or no, I don't think I'll be diving into any dumpsters anytime soon. But I do have half a mind to plant a vegetable garden. Only thing is, I'm really lazy. Producing or gathering one's own food require commitment and work. Also readiness to learn about and understand plant and animal life. And then there's my picky eating habits--hard to live off the earth when you refuse to eat zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, shellfish, and many other gifts of Mother Nature.

I do eat eggs (and willingly pay three times as much for eggs from vegetarian-fed, "free-range" chickens), and I like the idea of harvesting my own eggs from a backyard flock. The main deterrent there is filth. I imagine that chickens relieve themselves, and that it smells, and that someone has to do something about it. I'd rather that someone not be me. So I'll put that one off at least until my son is old enough to shovel chicken poop.

The lady who waxes my eyebrows (see? I can't even wax my own eyebrows) told me yesterday that she and her husband just got some goats. Her husband wants to use them for packing on hikes, she explained. Confused, I imagined a goat strapped to her husband's back. For the fresh milk? I asked, still obsessed with home food production. No, she explained: to carry his stuff. Oh. Goats are good at walking on mountains. Really hope she didn't realize I was picturing her husband carrying the goat up the mountain. Her goats are male. But I could get a female goat if/when we move outside the city limits, I thought. That would be cool. Also has to wait for Nugget to grow into his poop-shoveling duties though.

For now, I think I'll start with an herb garden on my windowsill. If the plants live, maybe I can move up to an outdoor vegetable garden.

Speaking of keeping plants alive, it just occurred to me that I was twice chastised by strangers today with regard to my dog. First for not having her on a leash and then for leaving her in the car while I went in the library (although technically I was not actually chastised for the library thing because I did not respond when the librarian asked "the person who owns the blue station wagon with the dog inside to please come to the front"). I don't believe I was endangering her (or anyone else), but my position also was not all that defensible in either case (thus my decision to slink away rather than argue about it with the librarian while everyone in the library craned their necks to see the abusive dog-owner). In general, unleashed dogs and dogs unattended in cars are a bad idea, I get it. But the encounters left me irritated at the way having responsibility for other beings--kids and pets--makes one particularly vulnerable to criticism for your choices. So maybe I should skip the goats and chickens.

Anyway. I'm off to the grocery store.


Erin Davis said...

My husband has talked of getting goats for yard trimming purposes. I still have nightmares about the goat who ate my favorite sweater when I was six, so I think I will pass. Have you read The Other by Guterson? It's on my nightstand right now...

Anne said...

Maybe you could get sheep instead, that way if they eat your sweater you can knit yourself a new one.

I have not read The Other, but I will have to look for it. I loved Our Lady of the Forest.

Erin Davis said...

I loved Our Lady of the Forest, too. It's my favorite of his, so far.