Thursday, March 25, 2010

The billy goat and the ethical conundrum

Conundrum. My dictionary’s definition is ‘a difficult problem’. I love this word. It’s onomatopoeic – redolent of hmmmm. Today I write of my latest ethical conundrum: My sharefarmer Sharon and I needed a billy goat to mate our nannies with last May. Would we buy or hire? Finally we agreed on an arrangement with a local couple she knew – the Smiths (not their real name) – who live 5km away. The Smiths would loan us a billy for six weeks (i.e. two goat menstrual cycles) in return for a female kid – of the Smiths’ choosing – from his progeny. There was no paperwork – Sharon and the Smiths were socially acquainted, and we all lived in the same locality. It was very cordial. Last 21 May we collected the billy – Flynn, (pictured) à la ‘in like Flynn’ – and straight away put him with 29 nannies. On 5 July we returned him. Both days we reiterated the deal with Mrs Smith. Flynn had worked well: 20 sons and 14 daughters. Next Sunday Sharon and I’ll wean these kids. So last Tuesday Sharon phoned the Smiths to fix a time for them to choose and take a nanny kid. Mr Smith retorted that the payment was one kid to them for each 10 kids born. He’d unilaterally changed the deal. He was aggressive and rude to Sharon. She was very upset. So, folks, that’s the conundrum. What should we do? Agree to the revised deal? Stick to the original deal? Compromise? What do you think? Hmmmm.


Chrows25 aka Leather Woman said...

That is just horrid, I think I like Flynn a lot more than his owner. I woud give the owner one nanny kid and maybe two male kids, you are only morally held to one nanny kid, but it seems the billy kids are less desirable, no milk and more attitude Isuspect.However it might cool ugly but untrue rumours if you gave in that far. If Flynn is ever employed again a written agreement is obviously required. We bought a car from a "good friend", turned out both the car and friend were rotten. Sad learning experience.
Will take your advice with blood pressure.
Onomatopoea is such a great word, I don't think i have ever seen it written before. If I have another child maybe that will be her name......but at 70 it would be a scary miracle! Sel's blood pressure would erupt!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ross,
Taking off my new age stay at home dad hat and putting on my lawyer hat I make the following points:
One - Other than agreements in respect of land, an oral agreement is just as binding as a written agreement. The fact the agreement was not in writting does not affect your legal rights.
Two - A written agreement is only useful as it helps to evidence the terms of the agreement. However, in respect of an oral agreement the terms will usually be evidenced by the parties recollections of what was said. Here at least you would have yourself and Sharon to give evidence.
Three - This is largley irrelevant because the costs of a lawyer would be greater than the goats in dispute, thought it does mean you can't take the legal high ground.

My fee for this advice is 2 goats. I would be pleased to receive payment by the end of the month.

Iain D said...

I lazily followed your daughters Facebook reference to this blog, cos I also have goats - they inspire interest, no? - and what an obnoxious tale, the kind that cuts hard against what livin' in the country is usually about but is incredibly common.
Out neighbour houses our nannies if we want some action for them ... feeds them too, but we've got 3 and they've got about 25, so it makes sense, and we try to pay them back whenever, however we can. This kind of reciprocal effort is more valuable then any kind of currency or trade, but you've gotta believe it'll balance in the end.
Meanwhile, I hear stories of our previous residents double dealing ways with dismay - as with yours - and wonder why people would live out here, so reliant on neighbours so often, and not foster better relationships.
But specifically, if I were putting someone's buck to that many does, I'd expect to return a few kids rather than one, but the previous poster is right, they wouldn't be all female by any stretch. Changing the agreement is stupid though, getting aggro about it is just being defensive about that stupidity, but 1 female and 2 fellas is probably fair in my view and next year's buck will have to be different anyway.
Be thankful Flynn didn't do a better job, cos 34 kids from 29 does doesn't seem that great a return!

Meg said...

Oh no, that's terrible!

Whatever you decide, I think you should insist Mr Smith apologises to Sharon.

Billying = good.

Bullying = unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

Its funny you know because I know both parties and I am actually purchasing Flynn from the "Smiths".

I also know both sides of the story so people before casting your vote as to how horrid the experience has been you need to first know what both parties THINK they agreed too.

I guarantee you that the story is reversed since the "Smiths" stated the abuse went the other way and so on... blah blah blah...

The basics of such arrangements regardless of how well acquainted you are with each other is that it is a business arrangement. The goat farm is a business, and as such for all things that relate to the business make sure its in writing.

Its just so easy then. No abuse, no misunderstandings and so on...