Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Last Goats During This Year of the Yang

Not only did I see three goats yesterday, three goats saw me.

three goats

And a girl petted one of them.

girl petting one of three goats on a tricycle cart

They weren't part of a mobile petting zoo though. Instead, the man who had biked them there was selling fresh goat milk.

tricycle cart with three goats and sign indicating goat milk is for sale

It seemed to be an auspicious sign to see goats on the second to last day of the Chinese lunar new year. There was much debate over which animal was represented by 羊 (yáng) — the Chinese word for the year's zodiac symbol. It can refer to a range of animals related to sheep and goats, and additional characters are sometimes used to remove any ambiguity. In this case, though, the seller apparently felt that 羊 would be understood as "goat", not so surprising since we were in Chaozhou — a city in southern China. Of course, if there was any doubt, the nearby goats cleared things up.

Although I had questions about the whether the milk was safe, I figured I couldn't pass up the opportunity to end the year in such a fitting fashion. So I told the man I was interested in making a purchase. After discussing the amount of milk I wanted, he asked what I intended to do with it. After I told him I planned to simply drink it as is, he explained that wouldn't be a great idea.

The man with the goats had spoken. And he had passed up a sale in order not to bring me any harm. I thanked him and left milkless but appreciative I didn't end the year on an unpleasant note.

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