Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019

The Grand Canyon and the Domestic Goat

The Grand Canyon and the Domestic Goat

Photograph via Flickr by Moyan Brenn

20 Places To Go Camping Before You Die

Six days and 3,500 miles later, my husband and I, along with our dog and two cats, completed the southern trek from Eugene, Oregon, to the D.C. metro area. We drove through California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, and finally into Maryland. Our main reason for what some might call an out-of-the-way route was to see one of the world’s natural wonders, the Grand Canyon. However, we didn’t quite think through the fact that it would be hot enough for our poor cats to pant like dogs and for our dog to just hide (much like a cat) in the shady parts of the back seat, reluctant to get out of the nice air-conditioning. Given these conditions, we were only able to spend about 15 minutes at the Grand Canyon. We took the expected touristy pictures, marveled at the grandeur and vastness, and then continued on our cross-country way, our zoo in tow. Even after such a sort stay, we knew we would have to return, under differencing circumstances, of course, to give the Grand Canyon the attention it is truly due.

After breezing through the incredibly varied landscapes of America, from Death Valley to the Appalachians, I have seen a glimpse of each state’s distinct beauty and allure, of how the land rises, falls and changes shades. While a drive-by gave me a taste of what our country has to offer, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to fully explore the wild-outdoors would be to immerse yourself in them by camping. A journey across all the national parks of America, with at least one night under each of their skies, has now risen to the top of my bucket list. But why stop there? Here is an inspiring list of 20 Places To Go Camping Before You Die, and if like me, you are a bit hooked on seeing just what mother nature is capable of creating, these are places you don’t want to miss knowing about.

—Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, Poetry Editor

Capra aegagrus hircus, or the Domestic Goat

Yesterday I milked my first goat. It was early morning and the sun slanted through cracks in the barn. Cats and chickens milled about while the goats, which had been separated from their kids for the night, pushed against each other in their pen. The first mama goat (officially called a “doe” or “nanny”) came out and immediately jumped up on a wood bench, put her head through a wood contraption (vaguely resembling a guillotine (minus the blade)) and fed on a bucket of grain. My mother’s friend tightened the wood contraption and began the milking. The first spurts she gave to the cats and chickens (turns out chickens like goat milk). Then she fell into a rhythm of push, clamp, squeeze, push, clamp, squeeze, and filled the steel canister part way. Meanwhile I held the goat’s legs, so she wouldn’t be tempted to kick. With the next goat, we changed positions. I was so worried that I was going to somehow hurt the goat that I almost immediately grew tired. All my little arm muscles were tensed. I forgot to breathe. But I felt a deep pleasure when the udders jetted threads of milk. Turns out this city girl wasn’t completely useless. Now I just need to make the goat cheese.

I realized afterward that I don’t know much about goats. Here’s a little research online that I found. According to Wikipedia, there are 300 distinct breeds of goat; goats have horizontal pupils (which I saw, but didn’t register); “a buck in rut will display flehmen lip curling and will urinate on his forelegs and face” as well as secrete from glands at the base of his horns; their life expectancy is between 15 and 18 years; their intestines are used to make “catgut,” (which is used, in turn, to make surgical sutures and the strings of musical instruments); “the only domestic animal known to return to feral life as swiftly is the cat.” I also found a great Jewish folktale that involves a goat, a rabbi, a poor man, and contentment. And, lastly, here’s a link to the possible origins of the expression “trying to get your goat.”

—Nicola Fucigna, Fiction Editor