By Gary Cutrer
We get some unusual phone calls here in the magazine office. I think it has something to do with Google and keywords. The World Wide Web and Google are now everybody’s information service, their “4-1-1” if you will, and that’s where the keywords come in. People “Google” a word and search results contain a link to our website and they find our phone number on the website. Words like “ranch,” “meat goat,” “mesquite,” and “Dorper” bring in the calls.
I’ve gotten many calls from Mexico and Central American countries where the caller is wanting to buy goats or sheep. Usually they speak only Spanish but they try their best to communicate in English.
One day, Sarah, who used to work for us, came busting into my office. “Talk to this guy on the phone! I can’t understand a word he’s saying. He keeps repeating something like ‘Darba Cheeves, Darba Cheeves,’ over and over, and I don’t know what he wants!”
I took the call and asked him in Spanish what he was calling about. “Yo quiero comprar unos Dorpers,” he said, “I want to buy some Dorpers.” When I get those calls I explain that we are a magazine, una revista, and that we write about Dorper sheep and Boer goats, but we don’t sell them. Then I always give the caller some names out of our Breeder Directory to call.
Just the other day a TV producer from the British Broadcasting Corporation’s production arm called me looking for participants for a TV reality show they were doing. Maybe you’ve seen it. The U.S. version of the show is called “The World’s Strictest Parents.” As the producer explained it to me, two extemely spoiled and bratty British teens are made to live with a host family for a week and their experience doing so is recorded and edited into an episode. The BBC producer said she was looking for a potential host family in Oklahoma or Texas to give the kids a hard time, make them do chores and be the “World’s Strictist Parents.” I told her I’d pass the word along.
One day several years ago, about the time anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan was camping and protesting alongside the road to President George W. Bush’s ranch near Crawford, Texas, a reporter who said he was with the Los Angeles Times called me. He wanted to know just what constituted a “real ranch” in Texas, and did President Bush have enough acres to be calling his spread a real honest to goodness ranch? The reporter had found our website by Googling the word “ranch” or “Texas ranch.” I guess he figured we were the ranch experts.
“Depends on what your definition of ‘ranch’ is,” I told him. “How many acres does the president have?” I asked.
“Bush only has 1,600 acres,” he replied.
“Well, near Waco, Texas, 1,600 acres would support quite a few animal units, so I guess you could call that a real livestock operation, all right,” I answered his question. “Yep, that qualifies as a ranch.”
The Times reporter seemed a little miffed at that. I guess he wanted me to say, “Heck, no! You call that a ranch?! Why, Bush wouldn’t know a ranch from a Kennebunkport country club.” That way the reporter could add to the hit piece he was writing and run it in the L.A. Times.
One day I got a call from a newspaper reporter from a big daily in Florida. He had noticed a lot of people in his area were raising goats and he wanted to know just what that was all about. “Well,” I began the usual explanation, “There is growing interest in raising meat goats, breeds such as the Boer goat, Spanish goats . . .”
“What!?” the reporter stopped me in mid explanation. “MEAT goats? You mean you EAT these goats?”
“Well . . . yes. That’s why we call them ‘meat goats,’” I said.
The reporter was quiet for a minute. “Isn’t that like eating a dog?” he asked.
I knew this call was going to last a while.