June 7, 2004

I Believe In Goats

It was an insane weekend, all around. Friday was my youngest daughter’s birthday. This set the stage for a weekend full of celebration, and stress (of course).

Unfortunately, on Saturday afternoon, I got word at work that my grandmother had been hospitalized. I was worried to distraction, and visits to the hospital over the next couple of days didn’t help my worry. She was in a lot of pain and discomfort. I’ll keep you out of suspense and let you know that my grandmother is likely to be fine for now, and probably more comfortable than she has been in a month or more. Let’s hope.

But I need to explain the image in the upper right.

We had a petting zoo for the day. And, since it was a birthday party, a kid zoo as well.

Those of you who know me probably know that I’m not a huge animal lover. Actually, I do have a great fondness for animals—I just don’t feel much of a need to interact with them. I’ve never had a pet and although I’ve had a slight urge to own a ferret now and again I figure I never will. I feel no need to have a pet, and I don’t feel animals belong in the house. Well, not in my house—you do what you like in your own house! In fact, I sometimes enjoy visiting other people’s animals in their houses. But leave them at home, thanks.

On Sunday the appointment was set to have a number of animals visit from Sue’s Friendly Pets.1 For outdoor programs you get ducks, geese, bunnies, dogs, cats, a tortoise and goats… the whole she-bang. For indoor programs, they can tone it down to just the baby animals, swaddled in little blankets for the kids to hold.

We chose the outdoor program because the sky appeared to be clearing and we wanted to get the full gamut of animals. Of course, it began pouring right after we finalized this decision. When the van arrived it was full of animals with no dry place to set up.

So, we let them in the house.

We put down some plastic in our exercise room, set up a pen and the animals were placed one by one in the pen. Lots of animals. They appeared to just keep coming. And as soon as they got into the pen, each of them did what comes natural to all of us when nature calls. Wood shavings were spread to mitigate the damage.

The kids were entranced, as were some of the adults. We had to keep the door to the room closed because the dogs (a lab and a pug, I think) had to be kept outside of the pen. And they didn’t want to be confined to the room. The lab chased the pug into our living room on one occasion, but I was there to stop it getting too far.

Another measure for limiting the damage was what I like to call “goat diapering.” I call it that because that’s what it is. Diapers were put on the goats. That, in itself, is enough to get the kids giggling.

But there was plenty to giggle about, and the kids were keyed up worse than if we’d fed them all candy-covered chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream with a Jolt Cola to wash it down. No, the food came later. Seriously, though, it was really loud in that little room with the door closed, and I’m not talking about the animals. The animals, were neither noisy nor noisome, despite the defecation. The smell was an extremely strong, warm eau de Barnyard. But it was the noise that kept me out of the room, save to take some pictures and a good deal of digital video.

Well, that and the fact that it was packed full of creatures. Seriously, there were at least 20 animals in there and (once it got going) and more than 12 people at any one time. This is not a big room, people. Something like 10’ × 14’ with a treadmill, all our bikes, our mat and my punching bag pushed into one corner, and a TV stand in another corner.

One of the walls was covered with a rasterized image of Mattie I’d assembled on Friday after coming back from visiting at the hospital. Here you can see the back wall of this small room with all our gear strewn about. (Click for close-up of rasterized image. Created with the help of the Rasterbator.)

By the by, putting that image together was fun, but it was needlessly complicated by my disarranging the pages carelessly during transport. It’s not an easy jigsaw puzzle to assemble alone. Up close it just looks like dots.

The animals were an unmitigated success. Even clean up was not too bad, although the plastic sheeting was definitely breached. A whiff of goat lingers. I will be looking into some carpet cleaner. And at least one of our guest went into sneezing fits. We’re airing out the house now.

Kids just plain love to carry around baby animals. At one point, the pug was doing a tango on Mattie’s head and she just laughed as she held a little kitten. This from a kid who, not too long ago, wouldn’t enter a house if dogs were present.

So I’m glad we did it.

Afterward, we hung around with one set of parents, which caused us to miss dinner. We’d planned to see Harry Potter 3 (review to follow), and we did end up seeing it at 7PM, but we were exhausted and run ragged. The kids were overloaded, and the combination of excitement, exhaustion and fright from the movie kept them (and us) up all night.

You’re not supposed to have a “hangover” from a kids birthday party—especially when no alcohol was consumed.

1 Sue’s Friendly Pets has a website. You can try it, but it was down when I wrote this. The phone number is 508.678.4083 (95 Briggs Road, Westport, MA 02790) The lady who brought the animals did a great job.

Posted by James at June 7, 2004 11:54 AM
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It was so crowded in there, it was a miracle that no animals or children got trod upon. Though the dogs did try to bite a chicken's head off.

I didn't know about your grandmother. I hope she will be OK.

Posted by: Julie at June 7, 2004 7:37 PM

Oooh, I want a petting zoo for my next birthday!!

And I had no idea Jolt cola still existed.

Posted by: David Grenier at June 9, 2004 10:00 AM

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