I’m not very good with smells. I mean, I either like them, or I don’t. I usually don’t try and define them, catagorize them, or spend too much time thinking about them when I am not actually experiencing them. But fall seems to be the time of year when scents, both pleasant and awful, assult our olfactory senses more than any other time of the year.
One of the most pungent fall scents for me, that starts in August on this farm, is buck goat in rut. Rut is a hormal state male goats go into in the fall. Their neck swells, they begin to pee on their front legs, and their glands begin to secret an oily, smelly, “pefume” that they rub all over themselves and anything, including humans, in the vicinity. In late August, when the first hint of buck in rut is in the air, it immediately brings memories of fall leaves, cooler weather, fires, harvests, and holidays.
If you’ve never lived around goats, and buck goats in rut in particuar, you simply don’t understand the true definition of the word “pungent”. I have tried for 11 years now to think of something I could compare the smell of a rutty buck to, so people could understand without actually having to smell one for themselves. The word “pungent” is the best definition I can think of, and should be re-classified in the dictionary as “the smell of buck in rut”.
Buck in rut does not smell like something rotten. It does not smell like onions, or any type of musk perfume that I have ever smelled. It does not smell like over-aged wine, or a dead animal, but it will make your eyes water, your stomach turn, and your throat gag.
The putrid stench will get in your hands and clothes and any item that comes anywhere near a very affectionate buck goat in fall rut, and the oily, smelly mess will never wash out of any type of fibers, and will take days and perhaps weeks, to wash off of your skin.
I never really got the full affect of my own two bucks this year as they are pastured with the horses out in the fresh air where the smell is not so strong. Recently though I had the opportunity to help a friend who has a large buck inside a small stall in her barn. Whoa, lordy, I had forgotten what I was missing! That stomach-churning, putrid, pungent smell that only female goats will ever appreciate.
God works in mysterious ways and I’m sure dissertations have been conjured and perhaps even written on why domestic male goats have the need to exude the most olfactory-assaulting smell that has ever existed in the universe…and I’m talking purposeful smells here, not smells like rot or death that indicate something horrible that we need to get away from…but something willful, and apparently necessary, and even attractive to females of the right species.
…Food for thought.
ps. The buck goat in the picture is my old guy Atticus. He was always especially friendly during rut and would spend hours rubbing his smell all over my mares, who actually seemed to like him quite a bit. He has gone on to another farm now, but he’ll always be my favorite stinky boy.