Lucky Hook [Goat] Farm Tour

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Yesterday was technically a ten-hour work day, lasting from 6:30 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. But, to be fair, a total of six out of those ten hours was just travel in a cramped rented van, and I snoozed for a certain amount of that time. I also read some of Hillary Clinton's book, What Happened. These are, of course, not at all things I can get away with while I'm at the office. But if I'm traveling for a work field trip, I get paid for it! Also it's only fair, if I have to get out of bed at 4 a.m. so I can be ready to get picked up at the office at 6:30. Okay, I could probably have cut it a lot closer and gotten out of bed at 4:30. I like to give myself extra time just as insurance and so I don't have to rush. Plus, I simply woke up at 3:55 and since I knew I needed to get up soon I just got up then. I had fallen asleep just after 10:00 the night before so this was still a very workable six hours of sleep I was going on, plus the snoozing I did in the van. It was all fine.

I learned several interesting things yesterday that didn't even have to do with the goat farm we traveled to. Take Sam, the Social Media Specialist who also rode in the car Noah drove us in to the Issaquah store. (He also had Hasassah, a young blonde woman who works at the Greenlake store, whose name I only just figured out how to remember by looking her up in the company directory in Outlook. Her most memorable quality was shouting "shotgun!" both to the Issaquah store and returning from there at the end of the day.) Claudia once told me Sam said he didn't think I liked him; I always got that vibe from him -- and so it goes, when people don't have the most honed social skills and others don't know how best to navigate them. To Sam's credit, I saw that he immediately introduced himself the minute he came across virtually anyone new. I do not do that. In any case, he and I sat in the back seat of Noah's car together, and on the way to Issaquah, I discovered he has a relatively expansive knowledge of film, and we wound up engaged in conversation about it. He's never seen the original Blade Runner and needs to remedy that. On the way back at the end of the day, when we were stuck in traffic, I mentioned how glad I am that I don't own a car, and he said, "Same." (This guy is nothing if not quintessentially Millennial.) He said he's never owned a car. "I haven't either," I said. "And I'm forty-one, so I win!" Then he said, "I've never had a driver's license." Well, shit. I guess he wins. So I asked him how old he is, because I did not get my driver's license until I was 24. That was when he told me he's 24 -- apparently, second only to Arvin, our receptionist (the only other person around here where we tend to be similarly mutually aloof, although it's slightly better recently), as the youngest in the office.

Then there was John, the Dairy Buyer from the Fremont store I sat next to in the back row of the five-row passenger van. I only went all the way to the back because I just happened to be first to load in when we got into the van in the Issaquah store parking lot, and I figured it best to load back to front. We were testing to see if the van would fit all of us; there was a group of 16 and the van technically seated 15. Scott, who lives nearby in Sammamish, brought his truck to drive separately in the case of such need, so three of the group went with him in his vehicle, leaving 12 to load into the van: three in the four-seat back row; two each in the three-seat third and fourth rows; the three-seat second row filled to capacity; and two up front, in the driver and passenger-side seats.

John had come in right behind me. He was a huge guy -- as in, super tall. He said the tallest tends to fare better in the back (although it very much appeared to me there was more leg room in the fourth row, ahead of us, but whatever). So these are the things I learned about John while we rode to Moses Lake. He's 29 years old, has worked for PCC for five years, and "I still feel brand new." Before that, he worked as a florist -- for ten years! So, he started at the age of fourteen. He worked at a florist shop downtown that eventually closed down, which was how he moved on to PCC. He's half-Samoan, and the youngest of six children, all of them at least six feet tall -- his sister, at 6 feet even, is the shortest. He is the tallest: 6'7". Apparently people constantly ask him to reach things for him on high shelves, even when he's in stores he doesn't work at. Neither of his parents are taller than roughly 5'9", and he has a tall uncle on his mother's side.

John was very excited about meeting the goats. He, like many people, thinks goats, and especially baby goats, are unbearably adorable. And he was all about this trip being part of enhancing his customer service as a PCC employee, answering customer questions about animal welfare and where the goat milk we sell comes from. I mean, I had basically the same mindset, but I was hardly so eager about it. This guy brought along a book to read that was all about food -- he mentioned more than once that it has more than 100 pages on eggs alone -- and it looked like a textbook to me, right down to the double columns on each page. Later I found him reading up on a web page on his phone about the health benefits of goat milk. Settle down, John. Anyway, he was good company and nice to talk to, and once at the farm, it was hardly a surprise he was one of only two, and he was the first, to go right inside the pen amongst the many goats when he got an opportunity to feed them "Mint O Green" Life Savers.

Two or three people in the group knew me by name, and I had no idea who the hell they were. One guy looked familiar; I knew I'd seen him before. This is also just how it goes: I make an impression on people in a way they rarely do on me. Other people blend together in a way I never do. I'm pretty distinct, both in appearance and personality. People remember me. It puts me in a somewhat awkward position sometimes, because in many cases, they might very reasonably expect me to remember having seen and spoken to them more than once before. But, most of my communication with store staff is via email, and in-person interactions are limited to my very rare store visits or social functions at the office that store staff might come to.

Anyway. I finally decided to make a separate collection of photo sets specific to PCC supplier tours, now that I've been on five of them. It had been quite some time since I had gone on one -- four years, in fact: I went on two in 2012 and two in 2013. This would have been my sixth total and second in 2017, as I had been scheduled to go along on a tour to the Nature's Path factory in Blaine, WA on Friday last week, but had to cancel when I found out how massively long they were making the day, and I couldn't cut it so close when I had plans to see Blade Runner 2049 that evening with Laney. It astonished me that they scheduled a tour to Blaine -- 110 miles to the north -- which returned to its starting point later than did a scheduled tour to Moses Lake, which is 182 miles to the east. The Nature's Path tour had pickups at another company's store, though. I'm still bummed I missed out on that; I would have loved to see my favorite cereal getting made. Maybe next time. In any case, the full photo set for this Lucky Hook goat farm tour in Moses Lake, totaling 34 shots, can be viewed by clicking any of the photos in today's entry. Further specific details are in the captions, as always.


As for me and goats? Well . . . they're fine. I wasn't so ecstatic about seeing them as so many of the others on the trip were. That's not to denigrate this field trip at all, mind you; I try to go on as many of these tours as possible, just for the fun of it -- and also, yes, like John, to have more first-hand experience with our suppliers to enhance customer service knowledge. That said, the first animal I took a photo of at this goat farm was actually a six-toed cat named LB. We later encountered another cat whose name I forget, who was super friendly and let several of us pick him up. LB was more tentative, but ultimately relatively friendly too. LB is exclusively outdoor; the other cat I saw lives both in and outside the house -- and apparently follows Jessi, the farmer, around as she does her daily chores; and she apparently has another cat, a white one, that lives exclusively inside.

I would not normally volunteer to hold a goat as seen in the above photo, and I really hesitated before being the last of several to take Jessi up on the offer. But, I figured, I came all this way, and why miss the chance to get a photo of something so unusual for me? So I did it. That goat was kind of heavy, and Jessi had to help me get it to hold still in my lap, and then it left a shit ton of white goat hairs all over my black jacket, some of which are still there right now. But, I got some good photos out of it.

I did opt out of taking some Life Savers of my own to hand-feed any goats, which plenty of others did. It was interesting to me that they never ate the candy off the ground, but would always eat straight out of people's (mostly John's) hands. I suppose I could have gotten a good photo of a goat eating out of my hand, but that never happened.

I really liked Jessi, the woman who runs the farm with her husband. After nearly two hours of walking around the farm and palling around with the goats, they offered us a BBQ lunch. This included veggie burgers, which they went out of their way to cook first on a cleaned grill, at Jessi's vegan uncle's suggestion, and I was impressed by their mindfulness of vegetarian and vegan concerns. I have no idea what brand of veggie burger they used, but it was fine. They also had several bite sized candies available, and I ate a bunch of them. This after successfully avoiding any in-between snacking at all, all week. I weighed in at 147.9 lbs this morning, though, which was exactly the same as it was yesterday, so at least I stayed the same rather than going back up again -- weighing in at 150 lbs even at the beginning of the week really shook me up. When I got home last night I had a super light meal of two eggs with a bit of onions and two small chopped veggie sausages mixed in, and I think that made a difference.

Jennifer and Eric's Halloween party is tomorrow night and I'll be eating and drinking a bunch there, no doubt. I won't even have an opportunity to weigh myself Sunday morning after staying the night, so I figure that's good too.

The real beef burgers everyone else ate (three of us were vegetarian) were direct from one of the cows they also have on the farm. Even as a vegetarian, I could respect that -- you can't get any more "farm to table," and Jessi mentioned more than once how the meat had no additives or anything; it was just pure beef. And that would be the freshest imaginable, so I bet for meat eaters, it was of unusually high quality, even when compared to meat that PCC sells, which is already of uniquely high standards.

Jessi was clearly a woman very mindful of animal welfare, right down to how comfortable the pumps were that get put on the goats she milks every day. We didn't get a demonstration of actual milking, but she did bring about ten goats up into the large contraption with compartments where they go to eat out of a trough while they get milked. Their website proudly -- and rightfully -- boasts of being "animal welfare approved." I really liked Jessi and her husband, and how they defied many of the stereotypes one might have of farmers, or people living in rural areas, or Eastern Washington or even specifically Moses Lake. Meeting people like that remind you not to paint the people of an entire region (or an entire group) with just one broad brush -- a lesson I really think Shobhit, for example, could learn. We need people like this doing this kind of work, and farming is by definition rural; it's not like there's any sense in assuming only other city folk are our allies in any kind of progressive values. The same, of course, could be said of states like Texas or even Alabama, where Shobhit constantly dismisses their population entirely, just because of where all their electoral votes went. It's moronically short sighted. After all, it's not like even ultra-liberal cities like Seattle don't have their share of truly awful people.

Most of us on the tour tasted some of the goat milk, which I guess is easier to digest than cow's milk, during the provided lunch. I was not one of them. I already know I don't care for goat milk. I seriously love goat cheese, but that's part of the problem for me: I had goat cheese first, and goat milk has a nearly identical flavor. The problem there is that it makes me feel, when drinking goat milk, like I am drinking cheese. Gross! Cheese is not meant to be liquefied. (I know very well that how it works is literally the other way around. Leave me alone.)

For me, the value was just in the experience. It was a fun day all around, and I'm super glad and grateful I got to experience it. We arrived back at the Issaquah store right on schedule around 4:00. Noah, Hadassah and Sam all wanted to grab something from the store real quick, and then we headed back to Seattle in Noah's car. Noah didn't want to have to go west of the freeway during rush hour and I had no need to go back to the office that late in the day anyway -- none of us did. So, Sam got out right at the end of the Madison Street exit to go grab a bus home from downtown. Noah decided he'd drive back to north Seattle via 12th avenue on Capitol Hill and then through the U District -- works for me! I got out on 12th and Pine, and had only two and a half blocks to walk home from there. This was partly why I walked the entire way to the office in the morning -- I got out of bed early enough for there to be time -- because I figured I would likely not get much exercise at the end of the day.

I made my eggs. Then edited and uploaded and captioned all the photos. I could have written and posted this account last night as well, but then I'd have had nothing to write about today! Well, except that I took Shobhit's car to go grocery shopping a day before I actually got paid, at the Greenlake Village PCC. I have my third and final Seattle Queer Film Festival movie tonight, so there won't be time to do shopping. Technically there will be time tomorrow morning or early afternoon, but since I'll be taking the car to catch the 3:00 ferry, I liked the idea of not having to drive any other errands on the same day. I had the time last night, so off I went.

I got back and watched this week's episode of Modern Family, interrupted briefly by a Skype call with Shobhit at his mother's place in Delhi. At 9:00 last night, it would have been 9:30 in the morning there. This morning Shobhit iMessaged me several photos of their family Diwali celebration. A week from Monday, he'll also be spending his birthday there. I wound up going to bed last night around 10:25, actually a bit later than intended. But I got another six and a half hours of sleep and that's working for me fine for today.


[Posted 12:54 pm]