Goats never bring their own tools to a project. Considering they do not have opposable thumbs to carry a toolbox with, this makes sense. This limitation in no way inhibits their willingness to get into your toolbox and begin to pull them out. Box wrenches, screwdrivers, Teflon tape, and vice grips, no matter what. They will rummage through all of them until they have found one to their liking. It does not even matter if they have selected the right tool for the project. At least not to the goats.
A couple of summers ago, I took on the task of doing some maintenance on our horse trailer roof. Earlier that summer we had acquired some goats which have become beloved pets. At the time, we were fantastically ignorant of how inquisitive and mischievous these creatures are. We have a fairly large property in which we became comfortable allowing the goats to freely roam. We quickly found out that goats love their humans. When allowed freedom to roam about, they will gladly hover around you like flies over poo. Oh well, no matter. They are cute, do weird funny things, and are usually a joy to have around.
During my work on the horse trailer, I had set my tool bag on the ground nearby and spent most of my time on the trailer’s roof. I needed just a couple of tools out of my bag to get the job done. Instead of grabbing what I thought I needed, I decided to just bring the whole bag of tools so I could have handy whatever I needed. It was a beautiful summer day and the goats were out and nearby grazing on Alder leaves.
While on the roof, I discovered I forgot to bring something I needed out of the tool bag. I passively noticed the goats were not grazing leaves anymore, but I didn’t care to take note of where they were, or what they were doing. While coming down the ladder I found out what they were up to. The first thing I saw was my tool bag with two goats standing next to it. I also saw three other goats a few feet away in various directions. The contents of my tool bag were in one of two places; either on the ground or in a goat’s mouth. It seems the overall tool of choice for goats are either plastic-handled screw drivers or shiny box wrenches. There was evidence of passing interest in the Teflon and electrical tape, but the screwdrivers and wrenches seemed to be the big draw.
My first priority became the reclamation of my tools. Clearly, I forgot to teach our goats not to run with their mouths full because they scattered in all directions with their tool still in their mouths. It took some time to get all of my tools back, albeit covered in goat spit. After inventorying my tool bag contents and scanning the area for anything shiny still laying about, I refocused on the tool I came down to get in the first place. It was a flathead screwdriver. It was gone, still missing, and still needed.
I looked up to re-scan the goats who were standing a ways off looking offended and put off. But there it was, my screwdriver, still in the mouth of the very first goat we got – John Deere. He had this look on his face as if to say, “I knew you were going to need this, so I kept it away from those other bad goats.” He actually approached me with the plastic handle of the screwdriver in his mouth, looking just as proud as the goat could look. I was grateful I didn’t have to chase down the screwdriver at least. I took the tool from John Deere’s mouth, made note of the teeth marks in it, grabbed my tool bag, and put it on top of the cab of my truck. Maybe later I will write about how goats have the ability to defy gravity, but now. I went back up the ladder to finish what I started. The goats went back to their Alder leaves, only to cause more trouble later that day that involved a tool bag and the top of my truck cab.
Why is a guy who designs websites writing about the struggle between the possession of tools and free-roaming goats? Well, let me tell you, in case you haven’t already known. The challenge of allowing your goats to walk free with your tools laying about and web design can be cannily similar. These analogies just come to you when your brain is always partially in the office when you are doing other things.
When you start a project with goats standing around, you are really making the choice to include them in your project. That’s just the way it is. It’s a law of nature you can’t escape. The problem is goats are not usually very experienced in the project you have to work on. They certainly understand that tools are involved, yes. They may even know how to pick them up and make some use of them. But in the end, your tools simply become scattered and disorganized. It will always add time to your project and then there is the goat spit that always has to be cleaned off. The teeth marks are unfortunately there to stay.
Website design can go down a similar path if you don’t know how to use the tools necessary to build something that actually works for you. And then consider how many online do-it-yourself web builders tout that you don’t even need to know how to use the tools to make a successful website. They tell you they have already done the work for you and all you have to do is add your pictures and some words and there you have it, a “brilliant” website. Regardless of how easy someone may make it seem to do, it’s not. To make a website perform the best possible way, function properly and be mobile friendly (very important), and be built the right way, you need to know how to use some tools. If you don’t, you may very well have wasted your time. Speaking of time, you may have found out it took way more than the hour they said you could have that brilliant up and running. In the end, you have something with a lot of goat spit and not just a few teeth marks left behind.
Goats are great. Wouldn’t trade them in for a real John Deere tractor on any day. But I also recognize that I can’t depend on them to help with critical tasks around my property. I now know I absolutely can’t leave my tools lying around them either. They are always willing, but not able to handle those kinds of tasks. Even if I could, I also don’t have the time to teach them either. When it comes to web design, perhaps you can make the same conclusion. Who knows, but if I were you, keep your eye on your screwdrivers.