The Nanny Goat Diaries
By Jennifer M. Latzke
Writer. Photographer. Columnist. Editor.
Celebrity goat milker.
Yeah, they don't tell you in college that part of your professional job description will be to milk a goat. And yet, I again found myself with two of my co-workers at the Kansas State Fair last month competing in the 2012 Celebrity Goat Milking Contest.
Now, High Plains Journal is a regular participant in this contest. Over the years we've had teams that have even won the coveted Golden Goat traveling trophy. We regularly compete against local radio stations and occasionally the CBS affiliate KWCH-TV from Wichita. But for the last four years the powerhouse team from the Kansas Highway Patrol has swept everyone away.
It's no wonder--their anchor milker has hands the size of a Buick.
But this year, I vowed it was going to be different. I started researching milking methods. I sought out advice from dairy goat farmers. I thought I'd perfected the pinch-and-squeeze technique that could push us to victory. I started a promotional campaign on Facebook to get Team HPJ supporters in the audience. I even tried a last-minute Twitter campaign to psych out our opponents with the hash tag #beathighwaypatrol.
That last one may or may not have me on a few watch lists with our honorable and underappreciated State Troopers--who don't have as good of a sense of humor as you'd imagine.
The morning of the contest dawned and we were ready. My fellow milker, Associate Editor Kylene Scott, and I loaded up with our HPJ Special Projects Coordinator Sarah Farlee and drove to Hutchinson. Farlee was there to videotape and photograph the whole fiasco for posterity--and the inevitable laughs. We here at HPJ believe in no wasted opportunities for promotion, even at the price of our dignity.
The three of us wandered the fairgrounds before the afternoon contest in good spirits. We saw the butter sculpture. We marveled at the biggest pumpkin. Scott and I even practiced our milking techniques for a bit on the fake cow in the Birthing Center set up at the state fair by the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine. Admittedly, it was a bigger mockup than our dairy goats would be, but we thought the practice could help us win.
We were in a good zone. I could almost feel victory. Especially because we had a ringer on our team, Senior Field Editor Doug Rich, who had been a part of the second-place team a few years back. We even had scouting reports from the barn on which goats were the better milkers. Surely, we could give those Highway folks a run for their money.
We were up against KWCH, a couple of local radio stations, The Hutchinson News (who were embroiled in a "doping scandal" for their use of energy drinks to get an edge) and the Highway Patrol. Team HPJ was in the first heat against the radio station 95.1 T-95--a group of city boys we were sure we could handily beat.
Yet, despite our best efforts, despite our practice and our preparation, in 45 seconds we lost. Our goat gave .25 ounces. It was enough for fourth place.
And again, Highway Patrol won it all, in a final "milk-out" with KWCH.
Now, I can give you the excuses. We were in the first heat and the goats weren't ready to milk so quickly. We had a kicker of a goat. I had a hand cramp. But I won't.
What I will say is a great thank you to everyone who supported us--especially Barb Rich who came out to cheer on Team HPJ and whom I promised to mention in the column. Thanks also to everyone on Facebook who cheered us on from home.
And, to the winners, I say congratulations. It's reassuring that the men and women who serve and protect us are also pretty handy at farm work.
But, just to be cautious, I don't think I'll be speeding anytime soon.
For folks who milk goats in full uniforms and side arms, they really don't have a sense of humor like you think.
To view the Celebrity Goat Milking Contest, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwZttkQaDC0.
Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or firstname.lastname@example.org.