I knew better. I really did – but I allowed myself to be swayed by the optimistic part of my brain that gets activated when I’m feeling rushed, or lazy, or tired, or cheap. This falls into the same category as not doing that second coat of paint, DIY haircuts, and ordering things off Wish(I KNOW those $10 boots can’t be REAL leather, but just maybe…).
But let’s back up, all the way to July when my 2 adult bucks went into rut early were trying to out-pee each other. It was like Olympics-level competitive urination – in my 7 years of goating, I have never seen anything like it. The pee combined with the intense Colorado sunshine quite literally burned the hair off their faces and legs, and was starting to cause skin breakdown. I hit on the idea of making them wear buck aprons in order to block the pee from making contact with their skin. It worked brilliantly! I’ve used buck aprons in the past, but usually to prevent a precocious buckling from impregnating family members. There are a few brands on the market, and a quick internet search will point you in the right direction. Look for one with a chest strap that prevents the apron from sliding off backwards, and also one with plenty of coverage. For those who don’t want to spend the money, let me point out that it’s cheaper than paternity testing a bunch of goat kids, and WAAAY better than washing and applying diaper-rash cream to rutty buck faces every day.
Now, if you’ve never been around a buck goat in rut, they STINK! (Also, why are you reading this?) Their pee doesn’t smell like normal urine because when in rut, their glands secrete some unholy, oil-based, pheromone-laden nastiness that mixes with their pee, causing your boys to smell like raw garlic cloves marinated in diesel fuel. This pungency can only be rivaled by a middle-school boys’ locker room, where Axe Body Spray has become a substitute for showers and clean socks.
Fast-forward to a few days ago. Rut was more or less over, most of the does were bred, and the bucks had settled down. I decided it was time to take the aprons off and put them away for the season. As one can imagine, they were pretty funky. One of them could even stand up by itself! No problem – I figured soaking it in a bucket of water and Dawn dish soap would do the trick. After all, Dawn is used to wash up the critters affected by oil spills. I filled a couple buckets with soapy water and let the aprons soak for two days.
It turns out, Exxon-Valdez has nothing on a season of buck pee. I dumped out the amber-colored water, gave the aprons a quick scrub with a nylon brush and hosed them down. Most of them cleaned up ok, but the big one still had some kind of brown residue on it. Here’s where my bad judgement kicked in: I figured a cycle through the washing machine would be just the thing to remove the last dregs of the bucky love potion. I knew that bucky smells are hard to remove, but let myself be convinced that a 48-hour soak in dish liquid would weaken their power. Surely my top-of-the line GE front-loader could handle some presoaked canvas, especially if I added bleach and selected “Pre-Wash” and “Heavy Soil”. That makes sense, right?
It only makes sense for other, NORMAL smells; not the supernatural abomination that is buck pee. After a 2-hour cycle of the best sudsy agitation technology has to offer, I eagerly opened the washer door and was slammed in the face with an obnoxious odor that I can only compare to distilled jet-engine exhaust. The culprit was the brown residue on the large apron. Not only did it not wash out, it had somehow become even more concentrated, sticking to the apron like tar. The best I can figure is all of the water soluble components of the pee were removed, which further concentrated the oils, forming a demonic buck-pee terpene. That’s right. My washing machine and I had unwittingly created buck-pee essential oil. Someone call DoTerra…
I was beginning to panic now (remember the aforementioned nice washing machine). I yanked out the buck aprons and put them in the laundry sink, then attempted to remedy the washing machine situation by running the “self clean” cycle with some Borax. I wasn’t really hopeful; after all the cycle that was supposed to have cleaned the aprons had failed miserably.
Back to the aprons. Only one was really still soiled. I probably could have let it go, let it dry and just accepted that some things will never be clean; but at this point it was personal. It was time to break out the Dawn again, this time with a wire-bristle brush (you know, the kind made for cleaning grills). I Dawned and scrubbed and rinsed and repeated for about 20 minutes, and finally scrubbed off most of the residue. Thankfully, the critical-thinking portion of my brain was now fully engaged, so I hung the aprons to dry in the barn. There was no way I was risking running them through the dryer. I probably would have set the house on fire….
To GE’s credit, it only took two self-clean cycles with Borax to neutralize the residual bucky odor (either that or I have permanently damaged my olfactory nerve). However – and I cannot stress this enough – do NOT run your buck aprons through the washing machine. I don’t know the “right” way to clean a buck apron, but I sure know the wrong way.