DEAR MISS MANNERS: We moved about four years ago to a small neighborhood in a rural area, where the homes are relatively far apart and people tend to like their privacy. We have a fenced area on our property that is overgrown, and it’s been recommended to me to use goats as an environmentally friendly solution to clearing it out.
Our neighbors behind us have goats, which we frequently see grazing freely around their property. We have not met these neighbors personally (as people tend to stick to themselves here) but have heard through other neighbors that they are friendly.
What is the proper etiquette for asking if we could borrow their goats for a week or so? Should I go over with a plate of cookies, introduce myself and then ask?
GENTLE READER: It would be tempting to issue an invitation directly to the goats, if only they could be expected to answer. (“We would love to have you over. We weren’t thinking of anything formal, you understand, just some light grazing.”)
But Miss Manners believes you really ought to get to know your human neighbors first, perhaps with that cookie-laden approach. You may then, in conversation, admire their livestock and steer the conversation, and the goats, in your own direction.