Churchyard upkeep is becoming a problem for church councils and Select Vestries. What is to be done as volunteers become incapacitated, or drop of their perches?
Rotas for grass cutting could be drawn up. This would give even more opportunities for church people to fall out. To the list that includes flower rota, cleaning rota, washing the linen rota, and rota for ‘who complains this week about the wrong tune’, can be added the churchyard grass cutting rota. This is a special rota because while the others are largely or exclusively for girls, keeping the churchyard looking good is not really a girly thing. Indeed, farmers could legitimately wonder whose was the biggest tool.
In a former parish, I had complaints about grass being unkempt round auntie’s grave. I ignored the first letter, but the second elicited a response in which I pointed out that the churchyard was looked after by volunteers, and that I would entertain no further correspondence from people who neither contributed money nor lifted a finger to help.
But now there is a new weapon in the armoury for keeping the graves looking nice for the general resurrection. A goat.
Yes, boys and girls, a goat. Goats are on the agenda of a Council meeting near you. Goats are the new solar panels. In the light of this I humbly put forward some helpful tips for any church council soon to be considering goats, in the hope that my thoughts will help the implementation of this game-changing strategy.
New rotas will be needed:
- Who will march the animal down, tether it and then march it back every day? Sheep might stay out in all weathers but goats do not, and Billy will need tethering so that he doesn’t attack the flowers lovingly placed on the grave yesterday.
- Who will make sure the goat has clean water every day? The RSPCA are hot on this, and it would be unfortunate to make front page of the Diocesan red-top for animal neglect.
- Who will be on-call in the small hours for capturing an escaped goat before it crops all the plants along the bungalows?
- How can the tethering rope be prevented from wrapping itself around gravestones and pulling them over? A falling gravestone could even trap the goat, useful if there were a barbecue in the offing.
- Insurance against acts of goat? A Goat Compare website would be helpful.
- Dogs wander into churchyards, so people could pay to watch dog-goat fights. Or a new species could be engineered: the barking goat. Half-man, half-goat is Pan, so I suppose half-dog, half-goat might be Gog. Or Dot.
- Rules will have to be drawn up—and enforced—to banish poisonous plants. Either that, or market the incense made from essence of dead goat in churchyard. Although in the United States Fresh Expressions is a brand of cat-litter, too many complications would follow from pursuing this here.
- There is opportunity for a whole new tranche of administrators to be appointed in Diocesan Offices, thus enhancing God’s Kingdom.
Whatever floats your goat I suppose. What do you call a Spanish goat with no back legs? Gracias.
I’ll get my coat.