Sunday, May 25, 2014

Got your goat

About a month ago, the youngest Huffman announced her news.
“I’m getting two goats,” she said.
Not being in charge of Huffman animals, I looked at my husband, who nodded to confirm.
Where exactly are we putting these two goats? I asked.
Down the street at the 4-H farm, she said.
All of my problems with the goats instantly evaporated. I don’t care how many goats we own just as long as they aren’t pooping in my backyard.
Apparently this is what happens in 4-H. The kids start with something small and portable like a bunny and next thing you know, you’re a goat farmer.
4-H goats work like this:
You get the goats. You feed the goats. You train the goats to walk around on a leash-type thing. You take the goats to the fair where you sell the goats.
You make a few bucks and someone else makes goat stew.
I like how goat ownership has a speedy beginning, middle and end including dollar signs.
After the goat delivery, we headed over to the farm to check them out. There they were, about 20 brown and white goats, along with a few sheep.
We visited before they’d been fed. Big mistake.
Do not visit goats that are expecting dinner. If you do not bring the dinner, the goats get m-a-d. The sheep will also be mad. And they will make a lot of noise to let you know just how mad they are.
Don’t try and explain to the mad goats/sheep that you are very sorry about not bringing food because you are only visiting. This will only make them madder.
There was a cute little cow in another pen next to the goats. She was not mad. She was frisky and practically pranced along next to the fence when we walked by. Who knew a cow could act like a puppy?
Later my husband corrected me.
That’s not a cow, he said. That’s a steer.
Gotcha, Mr. I Grew Up On A Farm.
I discovered that the goats aren’t like a puppy. They don’t want to be petted. They don’t even want to be touched. When our girl got into their pen, they ran to one corner. When she walked over to them, they ran to the other corner. It was like a game of chase, which is not how you train a goat, my husband informed us. Do not chase the goats, he said.
In the middle of the pen was a tree stump. I assumed it was for the goat owner to sit and pet her goats, a la “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm,” but instead, the goats used it as a scouting platform, probably for a better view of who is bringing them dinner.
The goats warily eyed our girl while she tried to entice them over for a snack of some Wheat Thins. Eventually the bravest of the two, now named Caramel, managed a quick nibble before running away. The not-so-brave goat, named Snickers, kept his distance.
I think someone must have told him about the goat stew.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Jury Mom

Some people are afraid of spiders, clowns or horror movies.
I used to fear jury duty.
This was back when our three girls were single digits and my day was a nonstop marathon of waking, dressing, feeding, napping, making dinner, supervising three baths and pretty much dropping dead at about 8 p.m. each night.
How would I manage all that and a jury? Sure, you get some piddly amount for a stipend but that definitely wouldn’t pay for a baby sitter for three kids. My husband could take over mommy duty but who would do his job?
Whenever I got the dreaded red jury notice, I immediately checked the box for the 90-day extension and then usually a second 90-day extension, praying that the jury choosers would eventually forget about me and my three kids. The few times I had to call in for jury selection the night before, I’d cross my fingers. Please don’t pick me. Please, please, please.
Even before kids, I hated getting called because my employer didn’t pay for jury duty. That didn’t stop me from getting summoned for a jury in San Francisco when I lived in the city. It was an attempted murder trial, but all I heard was “murder.”
It was a novelty for about two hours but then I realized that being on a jury would seriously cut into my single-girl lifestyle. The attorneys eyeing potential jurors probably saw a spacey 20-something who could barely concentrate on what she was doing in the next two hours let alone the next two days. I was excused.
Smart move, Judge. I was in no condition to be serving up justice on attempted murderers or anyone else.
I once got called for jury duty in Napa while I was still nursing one baby. I panicked. How was I going to feed my baby every three hours if I got seated on a jury? Whip out a breast pump during cross examination? Smuggle her in under an XL maternity blouse? Or just wear her in a Baby Bjorn and let the defense get an earful of hungry baby? Luckily for me and the entire criminal justice system, I was dismissed early on.
The other day, a co-worker got called for jury duty. But instead of my usual thankgoodnessitsnotme, I realized that I actually wouldn’t mind being on a jury.
Our girls are pretty much self-sustainable these days. My job pays me for jury duty. It’d be like a vacation but without using any vacation days. I’m a naturally curious person – I think it would be cool to be part of a trial. In the jury box, I mean.
And what if I was on a jury trial where I had to be sequestered?
No TV, no Internet, no cellphone. After jury duty, I’d have to sit around all by myself and read books. All meals would be provided. I’d get maid service and stay in a hotel room.
Napa attorneys: Give me a call. I’m all yours.