Though I think Kessler tries far too hard to make us see the romanticism in the goat (I thought the Biblical imagery was so ridiculous that it removed itself from consideration, come on, he’s apotheosizing goat cheese. To me it was such a stretch that it made the rest of the reading feel disingenuous), I was very impressed by the veterinary knowledge displayed in this book. What really got me was the treatment regimen the veterinarian had planned out to combat this disease at a moment’s notice, as though they’d dealt with it hundreds of times. The mechanics of that parasite are also very cool, if brutal. I’ve never been interested in biology before, so this is new for me. I am so curious about how the same parasite can coexist with one creature (And be basically undetectable) and absolutely destroy the nervous system of another. What’s special here? Is it the parasite or the host? I have to assume it’s a combination of both. Can any biology background people provide specifics on that for me?
Anyways, I think what I’m trying to say is that I normally think of animals being so much more fragile than we are—most of them can’t even deal with chocolate (I, on the other hand, couldn’t live without it). In my experience animals get sick, they rarely get better. Hearing how Lizzie the goat lived through that awful (and still cool) parasite has changed my opinion on this. Other mammals aren’t any less durable than we are, they just have different tolerances. It’s a truly complex dynamic. But it’s more than that. We’re never as different or as unique as we’d like to believe—reading the description of the goat kid separated from its group of friends reminded me why I don’t like parties. We’re all social animals. The similarities were so pronounced that I found myself applying personality traits to the different goats. I think Kessler intends for us to do this because he always refers to them by name rather than as goats. He also describes their actions using words that could also apply to people—try reading a lot of these sentences as though they were people, it still makes sense.
I guess I can’t really talk about this reading without mentioning the milk—and by extension, the cheese. I guess it’s not surprising that people can rely so much on their animals—the Eveny showed us that. In fact, it’s easier to get behind goats than reindeer because it’s more familiar. It’s cool that these people actually make money, however much or little, off of it (I assume, it is still the US and we have property taxes unless you’re on a reservation) whereas the Eveny were more nomadic. It gives the lifestyle of the shepherd a 21st century facelift. That said, for however much Kessler tries to romanticize the practice of cheese making, I’m simply not sold on it as a religious/sacred experience. I get that he’s exaggerating for literary effect, but it comes off as a little CHEESY to me. Ha! I’ve been waiting this entire post to say that. It feels good. It feels so good.