I was interviewed not long ago by a California-based reporter from USA Today who wanted to know all about goats and wildfire mitigation. Since I'd recently visited the Prescott, Arizona, area and learned about their use of goats to mow down flammable fuels in commonly-owned areas, I mentioned that. And since a long-standing Firewise Community, Emigration Canyon in Utah, has documented its successful use of goats in our Firewise "How To" newsletter, I mentioned that and grabbed the link to the newsletter for him.
"And where else are they using goats?" he wanted to know. As I frantically Googled for goats, I found an example in Broomfield, Colorado, and pointed him there. He pressed on, grilling me on my undoubtedly deep expertise in all things related to the species Capra hircus.
I hemmed, hawed, Googled some more, and finally confessed. "Listen, I live in Boston," I said. "The closest I've gotten to a goat is a petting zoo, and the goats were more interested in butting people for pellets than creating a Firewise landscape. Look, I'm not hiding anything. As far as I know, there's no national repository for goat fire mitigation businesses. Really."
I was hoping to get a laugh or at least a snort out of the journalist on the other end of the telephone line. Instead, I heard an exasperated sigh. "It's my editor," he said. "We found a bunch of examples in California, but he knows there must be other places that use goats."
Ah, I thought - Editor. That explains it. Poor guy. I reiterated my meager examples and promised to send him links. I suggested that he might get a good story out of the goat business-people who know a heck of a lot more about these creatures and how they mitigate for fire than a Boston-based bureaucrat ever would.
In the end, he turned out a very fine story with a lovely video starring the goats and their business manager. And he quoted me accurately and even spelled my name right. You know, when reporters misspell my name, it really gets my....oh, never mind.