Saturday, October 27, 2012

Goat Camp, Part I (or, the Adventure Begins)

I spent last week at Goat Camp, an annual educational event held at Onion Creek Ranch (OCR) near Brady, Texas. I stumbled onto Goat Camp last summer when I was browsing for goat information. A week-long opportunity to hear from experts of all types on breeding, feeding, kidding, and selling. The price for the conference was reasonable, but I would also have to stay in a Holiday Inn Express for five days, plus take a week of vacation from work. Pretty pricey.

But wait!  I re-read the course description and noticed the last paragraph: 
  • The GoatCamp™ Intern Program is now accepting applications for a limited number of Interns; interns receive free tuition in exchange for helping with the work at GoatCamp™. If you are interested please send your resume to We'd like to know a little bit about your experience with goats (or lack thereof) and why you'd like to become an Intern.
Well, why not?  I sent a lengthy email, along with my resume. Within a few hourss accepted! In addition to not paying tuition for the course, I would also receive food and housing. I could afford that!

An adventure! I left home on October 20 and drove the 250 miles west, arriving at the ranch about noon.  I joined my fellow interns in the classroom and Suzanne Gasparotto, ranch owner,gave us a briefing on (most) of our duties for the week, the first of which was to clean and set up the classroom. 

The Great Grasshopper Invasion of 2012 had descended on OCR. A couple of dozen 8-foot folding tables were stacked on their sides in a corner of the room and covered in grasshoppers, and the room was filled with the stench. I looked at my fellow interns: two tall, retired gentlemen with silver hair, a woman in a very cool powered wheelchair, and a 30-something woman with dreadlocks and tattoos. 

Tom was a long-time Goat Camper, having attended/interned at least 7 or 8 times. He knew the ropes and got us organized and we dispatched the dead arthropods in short order. I made my first mistake then, letting Suzanne know that I was familiar with technology of many types. Thus, I was also tasked with setting up the sound system and wireless mics, replacing the toner in her printers, and changing the batteries in her indoor/outdoor thermometer. Oy.

Suzanne took hippie girl and me to the original ranch house, a two-toned green rectangular building, much like thousands across the plains. The young couple who work on the ranch lived in the house, but it had a small attached apartment and a bed in the living room. Our home away from home for the week. Sasha took the living room, leaving me the apartment at the end of the building. My quarters had a bathroom and a mini-kitchen, which Sasha would also use. A very odd configuration but we'd find out more as the days went by.

Did I mention the ranch is beautiful? 

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