Yes, itís time to discuss the three Sís that many goat farmers have to deal with: sunscreen, sawdust, & sun roofs. Letís take them in order: to stay a happy, healthy goat farmer, sunscreen is vitally important. We goat farmers are constantly outside in the sun. After years of having to have precancerous sun boo-booís taken off my face, I have finally discovered sunscreens. Much to my surprise, not all sunscreens are made alike. You have lotions, creams, gels, water proof, water based, oil based, and who knows what based sunscreens to pick from out there. But, when you go to the SPF 30 to 50 degree protection they have two common results when you put them on, you turn white instantly and then greasy looking in the next instance.
The first time I tried a SPF 30 - okay, first tell me, what exactly does SPF mean? Sputtering Put-out Farmer, after seeing yourself with sunscreen on? Anyway, I digress. The first time I tried SPF 30, I thought I had put on white paint by mistake. It looked like I had white washed myself. I thought, no wonder it protects you from the sun, you just applied white paint to your face.
After a few minutes it started blending in and you didnít look totally painted white, but you did look like youíd seen a ghost or were severely anemic. You sort of looked like... Michael Jackson. Like someone had sucked out all your healthy color. Either after you got use to that look, or it actually did blend into your skin tone, you next looked greasy. You had a definite shine to your face. Basically, you look pale and very shiny, but protected from the sunís radiation. This must be how it bounces the sunís radiation off your face.
Next you trot down to the barn, feeling very protected from the sunís radiation, ignoring the stares of motorist looking at a pale, greasy person, and you discover you need fresh sawdust for bedding down the barn. We use sawdust a lot for goats and horses. The only time we donít use sawdust is when a goat is kidding. It tends to be very messy then and we switch to hay for bedding at that time.
Once I watched a documentary of people raising giraffes. They had watched a wild giraffe give birth and she dropped the baby on its head in the sand. So, they figured that must be the way of all giraffes. They carefully fixed up huge stalls for giraffes to have their babies in and then heavily bedded it in sand. They said one thing they noticed was that giraffes never clean their babies like other animals, licking them clean after birth.
No wonder. They showed one of their giraffes having a baby, she stood, grunted, dropped the baby in the sandy stall, the baby rolled around trying to get out of itís placenta, then rolled around trying to get up. After all that rolling, the baby was totally covered in sand. It looked like a sticky sandy mess. No wonder the mother wouldnít lick it clean. Itís surprising the mother even accepted it. She just stood there and waited for it to find her and nurse, giving it no help whatsoever.
I couldnít help but think if they had only used straw or hay bedding that maybe that mom giraffe would have licked her baby and helped it along. And, maybe that one giraffe in the wild was trying to get out of the sandy area to find a grassy spot to give birth and just didnít make it in time.
Back to the barn. Realizing I badly needed sawdust, I called my favorite sawdust place. This place has absolutely the best people in the world and I have been getting my sawdust there 13 years. They treat me like family, ignoring the fact that I come in pretty much smelling like a barn. They said they can fix me up with a load.
I quickly arrive with my truck and sawdust racks. At this place they blow the sawdust into your truck, using a long pipe from the sawdust bin. Itís dusty work, but not too bad. Usually you just move the truck back and forth until you fill up the whole bed, throw a tarp over the racks, and you are ready to go. You just shake your head to knock the dust out of your hair and brush your clothes off a little and thatís it.
But, today I had sunscreen on. Anything light sticks to sunscreen, bugs, sand, moths, sawdust. I looked like the original sawdust farmer. Good grief. No amount of dusting would move the sawdust from the sunscreen. I gave up and decided to head home, hoping I could wash the sawdust from my face, but wondering since I had used waterproof sunscreen, if I would have to get a squeegee to scrape the sawdust from my face.
Heading down the road, in deep thought about this, I noticed a car racing towards me in the other lane. It was full of laughing, happy people, sun roof opened up to the world, worshiping that wonderful sun. If anyone has ever gotten a load of sawdust the way I get it, you usually get sawdust on the edges of the truck bed, between the cab and the bed, and it just blows away the first few minutes as you drive. You look like a dust cloud moving along for just a bit.
Those happy, laughing people went flying past me, through my sawdust cloud, and for a minute we were one, the sawdust covered farmer and the fancy car and not so laughing people now. Sawdust swished and settled in their car through that sun roof. I heard several yells and "What on Earth!" and figured they must have had sunscreen on too.
So, if you are heading down the road and see a sawdust cloud coming your way, remember, shut the windows and sun roofs, and realize itís just an honest, hard working goat farmer, wearing sunscreen, caked in sawdust, trying to get home to get her work done.