Background Switcher (Hidden)

Goats and Mushrooms

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

These goats tug at my heart. They're kind of doglike.  I walk up and talk to this billy, and I can smell him from about 300' away. The milky, funky, pungent scent of a billy goat on a damp morning is something you can't miss. I had to use my best Google-fu to dig up the name of the compounds that go into that smell, and that taste, in goat cheese. They are 4-ethyl octanoic acid, 4-methyl octanoic acid, caproic acid, and caprylic acid, to name a few.
This young feller is pumpin' it out.


He's really a magnificent beast, locked and loaded and always ready to do his job. He wanted to make sure I noted that, adopting a show stance with all the hair on his spine standing up. For all that posturing, he has the sweetest little bleat, more like a soft nicker, which he voices in a come-hither way whenever he spots me. The thing about goats is that I can't tell what they're thinking from their body language, much less from their expressionless eyes. There's something about that horizontal pupil that totally bamboozles me. So with goats, I err on the side of caution.  I haven't given him a chance to knock me down, and I don't plan to.

Another of the houses I love, this one still inhabited, and surrounded by goats, staked out and chewing away at everything that grows.

As I got into the swing of my ridgetop run, I ran across a fairy ring of mushrooms on a lawn surrounding a pin oak tree.

Made up of boletes, or perhaps Leccinum mushrooms, it was a bigun', and a charming sight.

 Magical, as the rest of this run would be.

Among the boletes, which may be edible, but which I'd never try because I'm no expert, grew another.

 Satiny, cloud-white, with a big veil hanging down its rapidly growing stem.

This mushroom, which I believe is a Destroying Angel, always makes me think of my dad, and puts a shudder in my spine and a smile on my face. I remember the moment. Me, small, down on all fours peering under the cap of a graceful white mushroom growing in our Richmond,VA backyard. Dad, standing over the scene, knowing his little daughter is both curious and fearless to a maladaptive fault.

"Eat that," he warned solemnly, "and you'll never make it to the back door."

With the remove of years, I know that wasn't entirely true. It'd probably take about 12 hours for the amatoxin in this Destroying Angel to do me in.  I'd make it to the back door. But do me in it would. My DOD had a way of phrasing things that made you stop, consider, and remember for life. Ahh I love him.

Don't worry, DOD. I'm not gonna try it. This photo, taken three days later, of another Angel coming on at dawn on the same lawn!

Under some pines grew some fly agarics. Not as toxic as a Destroying Angel, but enough to put you in a coma-like state for many hours. This is just a ridiculous autumn for mushrooms in Ohio, raining every couple of days. Mushrooms are coming up everywhere: under the bird feeders, on the lilac trunks. I like looking at them and trying to identify them because mushrooms assert that there are things in nature that are big and dangerous, but much more prevalent are the small and dangerous. With mushrooms, you need to know something. You can't just go out mushrooming willy nilly, not knowing anything. I like pursuits where you need to know something. I'm weak on mushrooms, geology, trees, fish, dragonflies, just to name a few. There's so much more to learn.

The best way to learn, I've found, is to ask the questions. Naming the thing you're looking at is first; it's like getting its address and phone number. If you have its name, you can go from there, and the lights come on all the way down the hall.

Speaking of learning and goats, I found a post about making goat cheese from 2007, back when I was blogging like my life depended on it; as if I were working for 60 Minutes; as if I would still be hard at it 11 years hence (!) It's worth a read for the nerdy splendor of it, and for the photos of a tiny Oona enjoying fresh goat cheese. Life is rich. So rich!

Nothing better to do? Click on the goat cheese post.


Love goats!! We’ve had 3. 1st one I got on radio giveaway ( neutered white guy) to be companion to Great Pyrenees in back yard Neighbors we’re glad we moved ... had to give him away again as he was eating house!! Hannibal. Got two kids to eat brush @ new house but broke thru electric fence to sit on front porch & get petted!! These two hopped on in-laws new car they were bringing to show us!! Got in UPS truck & tossed boxes / ran off w/ horse to local Fast Stop & we’d get call 3am your kids are here. I’d pile goats in Jeep & hubby had to ride Chief back up Rt 7 to barn. Lastly when owner of barn came to repair fence( he had donkey who’d usually tell us when when the others had left / too lazy to follow / left his truck door open & you guessed it / my goats got in & ate 10k check from Bob Evans.....

I don't know anything about goats, but those pictures of him are great.

There are old mushroom hunters and bold mushroom hunters, but no old bold mushroom hunters.

"There's so much more to learn."

Isn't that the truth. And yet my curiosity for everything I don't know keeps piling up!

The Spanish for goat is 'cabra', got curious and looked up the Latin, which is 'capra'; and so, caproic acid, and caprylic acid.

Love those eyes.

Tied-up goats make my heart ache; they are easy targets for predators, especially dogs. Dogs approach, goats panic at the end of the tie, dogs can't resist the 'game;' usually ends in a mutilated or dead goat.. I hope those people at least put them in at night!

Wet fall and major mushroom season here in "real Upstate" NY, too. Like you, I'm not brave enough to go experimenting. If I decide to commit suicide, I'll do it by other means.

And I enjoyed the link to the infant Oona enjoying goat cheese. (I'm a fan, from the two posts of her and Chet Baker doing interspecies interaction.) So she must be 11 or so now? Without invading her privacy or anything, how is she doing?

@A. Marie, Oona's great! Yep, she's growing up fast. Really good singer, and now plays piano and ukelele. A curious and roving intellect and a creative spirit, she's her own girl.

Thanks for the Oona update, Julie. The "she's her own girl" part was evident even when she was a toddler hanging out with Chet. (And somewhere up in dog heaven, Chet is doing a googly-eyed grin.)

[Back to Top]