goatsLet’s just say you own a restaurant in a tiny South Carolina hamlet beside a salt marsh. And outside your window is a lovely island with a few trees on the north side and marsh grass around the edges. Your patrons enjoy the view of fishing boats heading out to sea from the nearby docks, and you want them to linger for dessert and after dinner drinks on your patio.

One summer afternoon, you notice some local teenagers pulling up to the island in a johnboat. Something about the look on their faces makes you think they are up to no good. After they leave you hop in your boat and motor over to the island to check things out.

“Ah ha,” you murmur as you walk up to a healthy stand of marijuana plants poking up behind the marsh grass. “Not good, not good at all.”

You weigh your options.

Call the local sheriff, and the whole county will wonder who’s growing pot next to your restaurant. Not good publicity. Ignore the pot field, and you’re aiding and abetting … even worse if you stand a chance of getting in trouble with the law.

A third option comes to mind.

You know from growing up on a South Carolina farm that goats will eat anything. And tourists, who comprise the majority of your customers, are likely to think they are adorable.

The next day, you head to the lumberyard to get materials for a goat barn. You run a pipe to the island for fresh water so the goats will have everything they need to grow and thrive.

By the weekend, the site is ready, and you load a family of goats into your neighbor’s trailer. It’s not hard getting them to the inlet, but loading them onto a boat is a little tougher than you expect. But your friends at the marina decide this is great sport and loan you a pontoon boat that the goats aren’t afraid to board.

You’re off, both to solve that pesky marijuana problem, and, you hope, grow a little business at the restaurant. In no time, the pot plants have disappeared, and the recalcitrant teenagers know better than to try planting any more — at least not in your back yard.

And your customers love the goats. They point, they smile, they come back with their children. They call their friends, who bring their grandchildren. They make a game of finding the goats, counting them, and even giving them names.

Soon you add a flock of peacocks that strut and preen whenever they decide to put on a show.

Now, I can’t say for sure that’s how the goats got to the little island at Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. But a reputable source and native South Carolinian told me the story in good faith. And I have enough friends from our neighboring state to the east to trust they would never stretch the truth … even for a good story.

So next time you’re in the area south of Myrtle Beach and north of Pawley’s Island, drive over to Murrells Inlet and check out the row of restaurants that includes Captain Dave’s. Enjoy a cold drink on the patio, don’t miss their signature hush puppies with raspberry butter, take your kids for a walk on the boardwalk, and let the goats provide the fodder for a good story of your own.

Alice Murray

Alice Murray

Alice Murray works with Lenz Marketing, Public Relations and Design on the Decatur Square. She joined Lenz in 2007 after retiring from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In her years with the AJC, she worked throughout the company, starting as a reporter for The Atlanta Constitution. Throughout the 1990s, she managed the company’s Special Sections and Advertising Creative departments before joining the marketing department in 2000.  She is president of the board of the AJC Decatur Book Festival, has served on the board of directors of The Empty Stocking Fund, and is currently on the board of Georgia Shakespeare. She is a graduate of the Leadership DeKalb Class of 2006. Alice is originally from Cleveland, Tennessee, and is a journalism graduate of Auburn University.