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The Fear

Today we went to the MacKenzie Country Fair – or Country Fear as the Kiwis would have it. Mother In Law was showing two of her top goats, Sybil and Gaberdine.

Mother In Law has several prize goats, which she shows around the country. Don’t ask me what type they are. At this stage, I consider it a major achievement that I can tell the difference between goats, sheep and chickens.

Now, I thought showing a goat would involve coaxing it onto a trailer with a tasty morsel of underwear.  There appears to be a little more to it. Apparently, there are a number of attributes you look for when assessing a show goat. They should be ‘feminine’ – which is not a word I would naturally associate with a goat – or even livestock in general – and have ‘proud teats’ that are symmetrical and functional, or ‘not wonky’. A show goat should have a long, straight back, pert ears, a prominent brisket and sturdy, shapely legs.

I can appreciate these attributes in another species and even in my own; hell, Husband’s pert ears had a lot to do with why I fell for him.

Even to my untutored eyes, Mother In Law’s top goat is foxy. All I know about goats is that they eat grass, they bleat, they fart a lot, they stand around looking demonic. But Sybil is shiny white and has shapely legs and a brisket that sometimes makes me gasp involuntarily.

If Sybil won her class in the fair, she would have been crowned Most Awesomely Best Goat in the Entire Galaxy Like Seriously Ever.

Yet, although Sybil was clearly head and brisket above the rest of the field, my Mother In Law was uncertain about her victory. Apparently these fairs are hotbeds of intrigue, scandal, conflict, and bitter rivalry – kind of like a hairy version of The Bold and the Beautiful. Judges can be capricious. People have been known to fall out over a goat’s udder, igniting a violent feud the might and fury of which resonates for generations, the flame of war nurtured and borne by their sons and their son’s sons and their son’s son’s sons.

(NB It is important to note – if not categorically state – that my mother in law is entirely above all that sort of carry on, at least where her goats are concerned.)

As the week progressed, I don’t know about my Mother In Law, but the tension nearly gave me an ulcer. Mother In Law spent days grooming Sybil and Gabardine. I was dispatched to New World to procure 500 litres of Wella shampoo for dry and damaged hair. Mother In Law shampooed and blow-dried and conditioned; manicured and pedicured; styled; curled their eyelashes; cut their hoofs. She also administered what I can only describe as an extreme bikini wax.

The night before the show, after an hour of ayurvedic meditation, Mother In Law wrapped Sybil and Gabardine in blankets and entreated them not to roll around in mud.

On the day, Sybil showed true class. Completely unfazed by the crowds, she posed for the cameras, blew kisses to the judges and sang a rock medley as her stage piece.

In a textbook definition of a Pyrrhic victory, the judges awarded first place to Gabardine.

Mother In Law contemplates Gabi’s killer instinct


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