Wednesday, August 13, 2008

You Think You've Got Problems

There have been some complaints about the lack of news. Well actually there has been so much news that there just wasn't any time to report it. Anyway, here is some of the news, most of it having to do with various problems.

1. The pea hay got baled and had to be picked up down in the field in Chehalis. The pea hay is just down the road from the Black Sheep Creamery and the farmer was very happy to see all the Black Sheep sheep (most of them are white) lying in contented bundles in their grassy fields. There was a terrible flood last winter in Chehalis, and most of the Black Sheep sheep drowned. But just to show the power of life, the Creamery is back in business and going strong. The first three lambs born there this year were named Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy. You can see them here.

Anyway, what is the problem with the pea hay? Well, we now officially have too much hay, and there isn't really enough space for it. So it is creeping into all the aisles and passageways.

2. The big girls were supposed to be learning to go up the new ramp into the new milk parlor, a daring attempt at caprine education which was proving very difficult to accomplish, especially on the days when there was only one person - the farmer - to 'encourage' the big girls to go up the ramp, then open the hatch, then shove them into the milk parlor, then close the hatch, then race around through the back door to get into the milk parlor to catch them and clip their collars to the milk rail before they decided to jump from the milk bench onto the floor, wall, door, etc in an attempt to flee. In truth, only three goats really took to the ramp: Wronny (a genius LaMancha), Xie Xie (a nitwit yearling who is very hungry), and Big Orange (Xie Xie's twin.) Boo, Scout, Bertie, Betsy, and Winnie would rather have spent eternity eating shards of broken glass than go up the ramp.

Anyway, after several curse-filled days, lots of threats and bribes and gallons of milk being kicked (in a bucket) across the new bench, the big girls learned to go up the ramp.

And now there is a new problem.

3. The New Problem: Everyone wants to go up the ramp at the same time. Worse, everyone sometimes succeeds in doing this, leading to a huge bottleneck of exceedingly fat goats (you know who you are) at the top of the ramp. So many goats that no one can fit through the hatch, even if it were possible to open it.

4. Conclusion.

In summary, it is very useful to have an understanding of problem theory if you are going to try to run a goat farm. The first thing that you must understand about problems is that problems are like pi or the speed of light - a constant. So that even if you can fix one problem, a new problem will arise in its place, leaving you with a zero sum.

But does this mean that you shouldn't bother trying to fix your problems? No indeed, because the underlying premise of successful farming is that one day you will have a better set of problems than you have today. And as it turns out, the farmer is very pleased with the new set of problems: 1) too much hay; 2) milkers too eager to obey.

Good problems. Nice Problems. Better Problems.