Rural American Know-How: Pygmy Goats, a Propane Torch and an Arkansas Ice Storm

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K. C. Compton, Editor in Chief.

Grit’s rural American know-how articles this issue include topics on pygmy goats, a propane torch and an Arkansas ice storm. 

It was a blustery winter morning here in eastern Kansas when I decided to check on my neighbors’ pygmy goats. After a hectic harvest season, and just before an equally challenging planting season, my friends Ken and Nancy had headed south to the Cayman Islands for some R and R, leaving me to watch their place.

Usually when I rounded the corner by the goat pen, the little goats — Mommy and Billy (no prizes were given for originality in this particular operation) — would trot out to poke a curious nose through the fence. Today, however, Mommy was nowhere to be seen. When I peered in the door of their shelter, I could see why.

As I have come to discover, any goat baby pretty much defines adorable, but pygmy babies are adorable’s superlative. There in the straw was a teensy creature that looked like a stuffed animal trying very hard to stand up. I looked over to congratulate Mommy and saw that Baby No. 1 was about to have a sibling.

I also realized soon enough that the shed was quite cold, and Mommy was distracted by Baby No. 2. So I took the first kid into my house and rubbed her with towels to get her circulation going while Mom took care of baby brother. Bob Dog sniffed the goat once and looked up in complete bewilderment. This was the strangest-smelling puppy he’d ever encountered and why, exactly, I felt called upon to bring it into the house was beyond him.

Cay and Cayman, as the twins came to be called, opened up a new world for me. If you have never seen baby goats frolicking in lush new pasture grass, you owe it to yourself to find or buy a few before another spring goes by. For one thing, they’ll expand the verbs in your vocabulary. Kids don’t walk or run: They careen and leap and bounce and sproink like overheated popcorn kernels. Some days, I’d just sit on the grass outside the pasture and watch Goat TV. I especially liked Cay’s trick of jumping up on Mommy’s back and riding around like the Queen of All She Surveys while Mom cropped the pasture.

Pygmy goats are not good for much but entertainment and keeping the weeds and underbrush whittled down. However, as our story on page 44 in this issue demonstrates, goats are truly useful animals, full of personality and milky butterfat.

We think you’ll find other useful rural American information in this issue as well. George DeVault gives us the lowdown on what has to be one of the most practical tools to come on the scene — the propane torch. If you’ve ever had a question about what kind of tractor would be best for the work you need to do, Hank Will explains it all.

And if you’re just looking for a good-natured laugh at someone else’s expense, be sure you don’t have a mouthful of coffee or tea when you start to read Josh Young’s description of his experience in an Arkansas ice storm.

Comfort Foods, Recipe Box and the article on Farmer John provide enough delicious recipes to keep the kitchen busy for the next few weeks. And while you’re allowing your meal to settle, check out some of the useful Web sites mentioned in
Country Tech and Sow Hoe.

We hope your new year is off to a great start and that every day brings you closer to living exactly the life you want. Let us know how it’s going!

— K.C. Compton