Unreal ponders the eighth wonder of the world — a goat tower — and checks in with a bloggin' mom

Unreal ponders the eighth wonder of the world — a goat tower — and checks in with a bloggin' mom

There were seven wonders of the ancient world, all but one destroyed. There are three goat towers in the modern world, and all of them still stand.

The most kick-assingest goat tower is the one at the Fairview Wine and Cheese Estate in Paarl, South Africa (pictured). It was the first goat tower ever constructed (back in 1981), and it is on a wine and cheese estate.

But the goat tower with the most kick-assingest name is the Tower of Baaa in Findlay, Illinois, a scant 131 miles from St. Louis via Interstate 70.

(The third goat tower is in Norway, or maybe Portugal.)

The Tower of Baaa is a labor of love constructed by farmer David Johnson, with help from the late Jack Cloe, for his herd of 34 Saanen milk goats. It is 31 feet tall and 7 feet in diameter, made entirely from 5,000 hand-sculpted bricks and topped by a copper roof that is steeply pitched to keep birds from roosting. The tower has six floors, which the goats navigate via 276 concrete steps that spiral up the outside wall. There are three openings on each side. Johnson clears out the interior every six months or so with a high-pressure hose and uses the manure as fertilizer.

Johnson's goats apparently appreciate their tower.

"Goats are the most curious animals in the world, so they use the tower a lot," Johnson told Farm Show magazine. "They come and go, passing each other on the ramp as needed."

Farm Show reports that there have been no goat casualties as of yet. In the winter Johnson uses a portable torch to melt ice on the steps.

In the future Johnson plans to open up a door on the roof and maybe bring in a telescope and use the tower as an observatory.

A blogger who calls himself PawPaw says he kept goats during his "Mother Earth period" and thinks the goat tower is a wise idea:

"You're not going to keep a goat in a pen unless the goat wants to stay in the pen," says he. "Goats are notorious for jailbreaks. They're fairly smart and they'll figure a way out of a pen. When the goats get out, the best place to look is high. Goats like to climb."

Unreal will have to take his word for it because we have no experience with goats aside from eating their cheese and maybe trying to pet one at a petting zoo a long time ago.

As far as Unreal can tell, goats and small children are the only livestock fortunate enough to have their own towers. There is, however, a really stupid computer game called Cow Tower (it involves cows and milk-collecting paper airplanes) and a British ska/funk band called A Tower of Sheep.

Local Blog o' the Week
"Living @ 970"
Author: Mary Ann
About the blogger: In her own words: "This is a blog about two parents and two kids living at number 970 near St. Louis. I started blogging back in 2005 when we all lived in Beirut, Lebanon."

Recent Highlight (June 11): Frugalein has a Frenemy

Some of you may have missed my introduction of Frugalein into this blog. Since then I've mentioned her off and on. She's the frugal part of me, the part that lives to save money; to use it up, wear it out, make do AND do without, preferably all at the same time.

Well, wouldn't you know, Frugalein isn't the only voice in my head. She's got company and company's name is Grünelein. Grünelein loves to save the earth the way Frugalein loves to save money. Sometimes they get along, singing to me in two part harmony when I hang my clothes up to dry, bake my own (damn!) cookies, switch off the AC, or think up clever ways to use less plastic. They pat me on the head as I shop second-hand, ride my bike instead of driving the car, and wash my clothes in cold rather than hot water.

But Grünelein and Frugalein don't always get along. Frugalein knows it saves not one dime to compost my kitchen and yard waste. She knows that I'm not doing her any favors at all when I sort the trash, ensuring that every recyclable thing in our lives ends up in the right trash can. Last month when I bought an antique watering can, Frugalein shook her head in disgust. I could have bought 3 new ones for what I paid for the beat-up old one.

Meanwhile, Grünelein suffers under an extreme lack of funding. She wishes we had rain barrels, but Frugalein won't pay for them. She wishes we had better insulation so that we would use less power to heat and cool, but again, Frugalein isn't convinced that the investment would pay for itself in enough time for us to break even on it. Grünelein wants tankless water heaters, but Frugalein said the (ancient, inefficient, wasteful) one we have has to break first.

You see how delicate a situation this is, I am sure.

Earlier today Grünelein got very excited when she saw this article about a "zero net energy and zero wastewater building" out in Eureka (about 40 minutes west of St. Louis on HW 44). It will house Washington University's Tyson Living Learning Center, where students conduct environmental research. One of the architects described the structure itself as a teaching tool — it was built to meet the requirements to be designated a "living" building. Think local materials, sustainability, rainwater, solar power, etc. It is off the grid (needs no municipal electric), runs entirely on recycled rainwater, and has no sewer. Waste (of all kinds) is composted. This building has it all. The builders reported that the Tyson Living Learning Center is the first "living" building in the US.

Although Grünelein was practially glowing with happy-pride for this greeny-progressive building, Frugalein's lips were pursed, arms folded, foot tapping impatiently. She was waiting for it, and yes. There it was. In there with all the descriptions of the trouble they endured to ensure that they met these standards was this small detail: it probably costs three to four times as much to build this way. Ah, yes. Frugalein knows all too well how much green-dreams cost and she doesn't hold with any of that.

Frugalein mocks Grünelein's starry-eyed wonderment of all things eco-chic however impractical and money-pit-ish, while Grünelein derides Frugalein's maddening thrift-first mentality.

I think I had better go bake cookies and hang wet laundry. I so much prefer to keep their voices in harmony.

Know of an Unreal-worthy local blog? Send the URL to [email protected]

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