WASHOUGAL, Wash. (AP) — Brett Wilson tends to leave a mess.
“I’m probably the only person who has defiled an office and had people appreciate it,” said Wilson, 46, of Washougal.
It’s not Wilson doing to the defiling, technically. It’s Om Nom or Nibbles, his Nigerian dwarf goats, who stand roughly 2 1/2 feet tall and weigh between 30 and 40 pounds.
In September, he started Goatgrams, a flower delivery service in which Wilson will hand-pick flowers from his farm and deliver them anywhere in the Portland-Vancouver area along with Om Nom and Nibbles, who will also eat the bouquet of flowers, lettuce and kale.
“I knew people would want to see goats eat flowers,” he said. “They’re unbelievably cute and playful.”
Earlier this month, Wilson packed Om Nom and Nibbles into his Honda Element for a delivery to Portland’s Dennison Capen Group Realty, where some coworkers ordered a Goatgram for Megan Winnerling. The coworkers met Wilson outside and hid him behind a wall in the courtyard. One of Winnerling’s colleagues held the bouquet and handed it to her as she walked outside. She was unsure what was going on, and then Wilson, Om Nom and Nibbles popped out.
Winnerling shrieked, jumped up and down and excitedly yelled out, “I watch so many goat videos.” She crouched down to feed and pet the goats.
Beth Hergert, her colleague who ordered the Goatgram, got the idea after seeing it featured on one of the local TV stations. She knew it was a good gift because Winnerling regularly shares goat videos with her on Instagram.
Wilson said he’s used to the screaming when people notice the goats, which isn’t always immediate.
“It’s so absurd that your brain filters it out,” he said.
Once people see the goats, they forget that he’s standing in their office or at their door. On a different order that same day, Wilson delivered flowers to Ginny Garcia-Alexander and Tyler Alexander in Portland. After Garcia-Alexander noticed the goats, she kneeled down to pet them while Wilson explained that the flowers are safe for them to eat.
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t hear anything you said,” she told Wilson while not looking up from Om Nom and Nibbles.
Once she snapped out of the goat trance, she said her mother has been promising a big, early Christmas gift, and that Garcia-Alexander needed to be home for it. After her mother, who lives in Texas, kept building it up, Garcia-Alexander said she hoped it would have something to do with goats, but she was still shocked when Wilson showed up.
Garcia-Alexander and Alexander sat in front of their house petting the goats and watching in amusement as Om Nom and Nibbles ignored their bouquet and feasted on the front lawn.
Wilson said Goatgrams is his full-time job now. He limits deliveries to five days a week and caps it at two deliveries a day so as not to overwork the goats.
“You want to make sure the goats are comfortable and enjoy it,” he said. “There’s nothing worse than going to a petting zoo or somewhere and seeing these animals that look miserable.”
At both deliveries, the goats were playful and flourished with constant attention. Both Om Nom and Nibbles love the car, too, Wilson said. They like to look out the windows, which are tinted, so other drivers don’t look over and see some goats staring back at them. One issue, though, is they both use the car as a bathroom.
“It sounds like a pachinko parlor back there,” Wilson said. “I’ve got goat turds rolling around the car. I don’t think it’ll have much resale value.”
He’s had the goats for about a year. He and his wife live on about an acre in Washougal. They have the goats, along with 15 chickens, about 10 ducks, two sheep, five snakes, six lizards, two tortoises, a frog and a tarantula.
Long before he started Goatgrams, Wilson worked odd jobs and brought reptiles to schools for interactive assemblies.
“I’ve only been the goat guy for a year,” he said. “I’ve been the lizard guy for 26 years.”
He also tried to do a similar program with birds, but having birds fly around a classroom or gym riled up the kids a bit too much.
“I couldn’t make it safe for the birds,” Wilson said. “Kids are kind of animals.”
Goatgrams took off pretty quickly, Wilson said. He put about $100 into advertising on Facebook and has relied on word of mouth since then. Now he’s booked up about a month out. Wilson said he plans on taking some time off or slowing down over the summer, so the goats can enjoy the warm weather. He also said he’s going to raise the prices, since it’s doing so well. Goatgrams cost $100 this year, and he said he might raise that to $125 in 2018, but he hasn’t decided on the final price. Anyone interested in learning more can go to shrinkrayfarms.com/goatgram.
One reason Wilson thinks Goatgrams has taken off is because of the boldness of showing up somewhere with two goats.
“I take part in giving these people a moment,” he said. “It’s a grand gesture.”
Information from: The Columbian, http://www.columbian.com