Wally McRae packed The Roxy and brought a little EOB to Missoula, Montana last week for a fundraiser for Rosebud Protective Association. It was spectacular show. DSC_4555 DSC_4567 DSC_4554 DSC_4566 DSC_4562 DSC_4603 DSC_4591 DSC_4578

Our eyes met from across the pen. Challenge accepted. It was on.

To Catch A Goat You Must Never Hesitate And Never Let Go

I was alone and had to treat an eye infection in a 45 lb goat kid before it spread to the rest of the herd. She was wild. I got within four feet of her, threw myself in her general direction and was able to grab a leg. Number one rule of catching a goat, do not hesitate. She dragged me at least four feet across the pen and we ended up with me flat on my back in mud and her on top of my chest, with my left arm wrapped around her neck and my right arm wrapped around her lower abdomen. The Teramycin (antibiotic) was in my front right pocket of my jeans. How was I going to get it out, open the tube and squeeze it in her eye? Always remember, the number two rule of catching a goat is if you have it, you do not let go even if it’s kicking you in the face.  Using strength found in the "I f****** hate goats" part of my brain, I rolled onto my side and then rolled again so I was laying on top of her. Using my body weight as leverage, I grabbed the medicine out of my pocket, untwisted the cap with the same hand I was holding it in, held her eye open and squirted it in.

To Catch A Goat You Must Learn How The Goat Thinks

Rule number three is to know what type of goat you are dealing with. There are three types of goats. The first is the friendly goat. This type can be identified easily by the fact that they like to press their head against your leg and slowly lean into you. They also paw at you and sometimes try to lay on your lap even though, when full grown, they are 150 pounds. They think you are amazing and will do nothing to hurt them, ever. This is the stupidest type of goat but also, the most awesome. The second type is the indifferent goat. This is your normal, average, run of the mill goat that generally goes where it should, when it should and is quite indifferent your existence. All you are is the bringer of food in the winter. This type can be identified by their air of indifference and lack of gratitude. They are of average intelligence. The third type is the wild goat. This type is the kind that if one day you stopped feeding and watering them they would be fine. They’d go feral quicker than a dog rolls in fresh horse shit. You are not irrelevant to them. You are a threat. This type can be identified by the look in their eyes and their location on the outer edge of the herd. They are always watching you. They are smarter than you.

I'm watching you gif

To Catch A Goat You Must Prepare Thyself

Rule number four is to wear sensible footwear. Cowboy boots? Really? That’s a recipe for slipping and falling on your ass. Oh, and rule number five is don’t have anything sharp in your pockets.

To Catch Goat Type I: The Friendly Goat

The Friendly Goat The goat walks up to you and asks you what it can do for you today. You scratch it on the head and say thank you goat, please follow me.

To Catch A Goat Type II: The Indifferent Goat

V37 The goat notices you walk into the pen but quickly loses interest.  You use your zen-like, emotionless and calm demeanor you’ve cultivated over the years to lull it into a false sense of security. Rule number six is you never make eye contact with the target. NEVER. Do not look at it, do not think about it, do not acknowledge its existence. Your calm mind is their calm mind. If you get angry or agitated so does the goat. Rule number seven is YOU DO NOT GET ANGRY. You slowly walk through the herd scritching and petting other goats till you are near it and then in one motion, too quick to be registered by the goat, you grab it and hold on for dear life. They are stronger than they look and you just startled them. The qualifier rule here is that if it is a wild goat, rule number six and seven are null and void. 

To Catch A Goat Type III: The Wild Goat

Goat herd The goat knew you were going to come in to the pen to try to catch it before you even opened your eyes that morning. There is no way in hell they are letting you get near them. So, what is a goat rancher to do? It usually involves at least two people unless you're an expert goat catcher like myself. You get as close as you can, have someone else block off their main exit and you throw yourself in their general direction, arms out in front of you, aiming to grab on to a back foot and if you are lucky enough to get that back foot, you hold on like you’ve never held on to anything before in your life.  Rule number eight is to watch out for their horns. There is no more zen, no more quiet movements through the herd. It is all out tackle football. You cannot have any regard for your body. You must act with decisiveness. Rule number nine, if you hesitate, you lose. Now, there are many life lessons to be learned from this. For me, it is that I should learn to rope and build a sorting pen that goats can't escape from.  
Yesterday, a man named Norm Asbjornson gave $50 million to Montana State University to build a new engineering and innovation center. That was a very generous contribution. However, I feel the need to point out that Mr. Asbjornson was also the largest contributor to Western Tradition Partnership (WTP) aka American Tradition Partnership (ATP), the organization that successfully overturned Montana's century old ban on corporate spending in elections. A ban that Montanan's overwhelmingly support.  Asbjornson gave $50,000 to WTP in August 2008. His heating and cooling company in Tulsa, Okla., gave $20,000 to them in October 2010. Asbjornson said he gave money to WTP in part because the group was working to elect state representatives who embodied Montanan values. I'm not sure how a organization like WTP, which was run by a D.C. insider out of his office in Virginia, reflects Montana values. I also don't understand how Mr. Asbjornson could plead ignorance on WTP's tactics or methods considering one of WTP's main selling points was that you could influence elections and remain completely anonymous. I also think you'd want to know that the organization you were contributing to, especially to the tune of $70,000, was a legitimate, law abiding organization. Here's just a smattering of some of the illegal and unscrupulous activities of WTP in Montana during the last couple election cycles.
  • WTP collected almost $1.1 million between March 2008 and December 2010 to influence state and local elections through nasty personal attacks on moderate Republican candidates and statewide Democratic candidates.
  • WTP illegally coordinated with right wing extremist candidates through the business Direct Mail and Communications, run by Christian LeFer.
  • WTP funded attacks on Democrat Steve Bullock sending out two fake newspapers to Montana residents in the final weeks of the race portraying him as soft on child predators.
  • WTP exploited gaps in regulation between election authorities and the Internal Revenue Service to pour tens of millions of dollars from secret donors into political campaigns
  • WTP misled the IRS about their political activities.
  • WTP sued the state of Montana and successfully overturned Montana's century old ban on corporate spending in elections.
Those are just some of the highlights. For the record, WTP also went after my mother, Debra Bonogofsky, in her primary race with Dan Kennedy in 2010 for Montana House District 57. She filed numerous complaints against Kennedy and WTP with the Montana Commissioner for Political Practices and she won them all. But that all brings me back to the subject of Mr. Asbjornson and his donation to MSU. Governor Bullock, who was the biggest target of WTP as he ran for Governor and who fought WTP as Montana' s Attorney General,  said yesterday,
"The donor, Norm Asbjornson, represents the spirit of generosity that makes Montana great."
Maybe he didn't know that Mr. Asbjornson was the largest donor to WTP or most likely, it's just politics. No permanent friends, no permanent enemies. I'm not naive. I'm not saying that MSU shouldn't have accepted the money or that it shouldn't be celebrated. But what I am saying is that the media should have pointed out Mr. Asbjornson's connection to WTP. The money Asbjornson gave to MSU was generous and important and will impact Montanan's for generations. But he also actively supported an organization that badly damaged Montana's democratic processes and institutions.  Those actions will have negative repercussions on Montanans, and arguably will have more impact than his donation to MSU,  for generations to come. Just thought someone should point that out. (For more information about WTP and their illegal activities, just go to Frontline and read their great coverage of the group and dark money in politics.)    
Because sometimes winter on the farm can get long. And, because we can.    
As I contemplate the coming snow storm that is breathing down Montana’s neck, threatening to dump yet another foot of snow on the ground and bring us sub zero temperatures for four days in a row, I am reminded of a series of events in 2010 that culminated with me falling asleep in front of the wood stove on Christmas Eve at 3:00 a.m. fully dressed in my Carhart bibs with four dogs curled around me and six baby goats in a cardboard box. October

Perfecto, the goat buck escaped out of his pen and got in with the does, where he definitely should not have been, which caused

Perfecto. The Goat Buck.

numerous goat does to get pregnant earlier than they should have. Time passed and they grew bigger and bigger....

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Soon, it was 5 months later, Christmas Eve 2010. I was alone because

Christmas Trees

Mike changed his travel schedule and left town early to visit his parents for Christmas in Rapid City, because

Mike with goat

there was a major winter storm coming that dumped a foot of snow on the ground and brought sub-zero temperatures with it, which caused

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 three goat does went into labor, forcing me to hastily convert our tack room into a makeshift kidding barn that had no heat or light but it was better than nothing, and I had to

Goat doe in tack room

move three large, pregnant, recalcitrant does 200 yards up a hill from the red barn to the tack room in 1 foot of snow, in the dark, by myself, leading to

The snow hill

ten hours of kidding out does,

Goat doe and kid

and bringing their kids inside to the wood stove periodically to keep them warm, which led to

Goat Kids In Front of Fireplace

me falling asleep in front of the wood stove with 4 dogs curled around me and 6 baby goats in a cardboard box next to the stove at 3:00 a.m., on Christmas Eve, in my Carhart bibs. 

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. You are thinking, well Alexis, you could have avoided all of that by preventing Perfecto from getting out of his pen. That, my friend, is true. But, as you can probably imagine from reading Goat Pimp, a horny goat buck is difficult to control. So here we are, the end of February, Perfecto bred the does when he should have, we are having kids when we planned to, and we are faced with another major winter storm leading us to convert the tack room into a kidding area. But one thing is different this year. Mike is home so if anything goes wrong, he’s the one that has to deal with it.  
Take 12 minutes out of your day and watch one of the most compelling short films I have ever seen. Directed by Carly Calhoun and Sam Despeaux.    
Raising livestock and having a full time job is complicated. Goat kids come when they come. They don’t check with you first to see if you’re busy. The first kids of the year were born this last weekend and it reminded me of one very poignant example of how sometimes raising livestock and having a day job can be....complicated. One of our does went into labor on a week day. I had to be conference call with our staff in D.C. to discuss H.R. 2454, aka the American Clean Energy and Security Act, aka the cap and trade climate change bill, aka the climate change version of the Affordable Care Act, aka a bureaucratic complicated mess of a bill that would have done something but not enough to actually fix the problem. But this post is not about that bill, it is about a goat. So, I put in my headset, went down to the barn and jumped on the conference call. I occasionally chimed in between the grunts and sometimes screams of the goat. I don’t remember exactly what the conversation was about. I just remember it was with D.C. and had to do with the climate change bill. Goats Unmute Me: Well, I just don’t think we are getting anywhere with the xyz. Mute Goat scream Unmute Me: I’m pretty sure Max Baucus doesn’t care about xyz. Mute As her labor progressed, it was clear something was wrong. She’d went into labor over an hour before and all I could see was one little hoof sticking out. I put on rubber gloves, drenched them in an iodine solution and lube and began to gently feel up the kid's leg and try to figure out why the baby was stuck. I found that the head, which should be the first thing that comes out with the front legs, was turned to the side. It was preventing the body from getting through the cervix. Fortunately, this is a fairly easy pull. I slowly pushed the baby back into her uterus to have more room to work, grabbed the head and gently turned it so it’s neck was straight and it was facing forward with the legs. I grabbed onto the front legs and waited. The doe was exhausted. She looked back at me.  I knew that she knew I was helping her. She prepared herself, took a breathe and pushed hard one more time while I pulled. The baby slide out easily into my arms along with the placenta and all of the birth fluids. It's a wonderful moment and it never gets old. However, I was still on the conference call and I forgot that my Blackberry was in the front pocket of my shirt, unsecured by a button.
 As I stood up from a kneel to take the baby up near the mom’s head so she could clean her off, my phone slipped out of my shirt pocket and landed directly in the pile of placenta that was laying in the straw.
The headset remained attached. It was at that moment that I heard someone say my name. “Alexis? Are you there?” I’ve got a slippery baby in my arms, my phone is on mute and I haven’t been paying attention for 20 minutes. I put the baby down with her mom, pulled off my latex gloves, grabbed the phone, which was now gooey with straw stuck all over it, wiped it against my jeans and hit unmute. “Yep, I’m here, sorry about that.” Expectant silence. “Did you hear the question?” “Uhhh...no. Things got a little hectic here. Can you repeat it?” “What happened?” “Well, I dropped my Blackberry in placenta.” Silence. There's really nothing to say after that, is there? ************

Things that have changed since that day.

1. I have an iPhone instead of a Blackberry. The Blackberry was tougher.  2. I close the button on my shirt if I'm on a conference call and pulling kids at the same time.