By Joan Larsen
As my family climbed in the Canadian Rockies last year, clinging to what turned out to be sheer rock faces, finding ourselves in places where no one wanted to look down – all of us were “stunned” – and more – that we luckily had been so sure-footed and made it back to the lodge.
Well, goats have no such worries. You see, goats are born with the all the inherent skills they will ever need to engage in the perilous and pretty bizarre feats of climbing that would put all of us humans to shame.
We ran across more than a few that seemed to believe that no footholds at all just made their mornings more fun. You soon will see what I mean.
I tend to love wild animals. I will go far out of my way to see them. But I must tell you that I am not fond of the look of goats. They would be most difficult – I believe – to warm up to as they make a practice of ignoring you. Somehow, you don’t care. However, when I heard that a guide in Marrakech, Morocco, could drive me to the small village of Tamri where all the goats climbed TREES, I wasn’t going to miss the only place in the whole world that this happens!!
The Argan is not the most aesthetically pleasing tree in the world. However, hordes of local goats – I counted 30 on one tree – were up there searching for food. Argan berries are about the best food a goat could imagine and it doesn’t take them long to become acrobats, traipsing sure-footedly on the gnarled branches. I have to tell you that it is a most wondrous and bizarre thing to behold.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you the whole story, disgusting though it is. After digesting the Argan berries, the goats leave behind droppings that contain large kernels of the seeds they consume. These kernels are extracted from the manure, washed (we hope), ground-pressed to produce oil. This oil has a number of uses: people eat the oil and they smear it on themselves for cosmetic reasons. The mass-produced bottle of this oil is sold and exported. Expect to pay from 15 to 50 dollars . . . but be warned!
Normal mountain goats truly live on the wild side on the mountain peaks of the world. They wouldn’t be caught dead in a tree. Their acrobatics on the side of a cliff would put the most seasoned Everest veteran to shame. And, as a picture is worth a thousand words, the photos I have for you will tell the tale as I could not.
Goats in a rare bucolic mood as they play “king of the hill” !
Writer Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth. But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again. She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”