With the advent of Big Agriculture and the double cheeseburger, the Western goat herding industry experienced its first decline in about, say, 10,000 years. But right on the cusp of having to admit that sitting on hills and playing pan flutes just isn't a future-proof job, the business has made a surprise pivot, providing a service much needed in the 21st century: making sure civilization doesn't burn to the ground.
Turns out that goat herding isn't just post-apocalypse but pre-apocalypse-proof as well. While some goats have had to stoop to making a living as muggers -- or worse, yoga instructors -- recently a new industry has opened up for the roaming ruminators: preventing forest fires.
Due to myriad factors, climate change being the worst of them, massive brush fires have been plaguing California and other parts of the Southwest. With limited options (and limited funding), more and more towns and fire departments are turning to the best brush clearers in the animal kingdom: goats. Not only are goats cheap, but a herd of 200 can easily clear an acre of dangerous brush a day, their nimble tongues and nimbler hoofs making getting every last bit of fire-prone shrubbery in the treacherous forest areas a piece of brambles-flavored cake.
Of course, goats need supervisors, which brings on a renaissance for the humble goatherd, who can make up to a grand per acre renting out a trip of goats. And they've adapted to modern times as well. Forget walking around in goat droppings wielding some weird hook weapon that makes you look like a third-rate Final Fantasy character. Modern operators use every bit of modern tech to make herding as efficient as possible, using solar generators to create mobile ranches with electric fences and tracking technology to keep their goats as well-monitored as your Facebook conversations.
And as if using updated ancient technology to fix late capitalist issues in California isn't Silicon Valley enough, one Nevada City recently launched a crowdfunding campaign called (you guessed it) Goat Fund Me to get raise enough bucks (hey, they started it) to keep the brush fires at bay. With that kind of trending momentum, it's only a matter of time before Elon Musk releases a line of Boring Goats as the revolutionary new way to forever change the tin can recycling industry.
For more weird tangents and his personal recipes for toilet wine, do follow Cedric on Twitter.
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