The Egg-Laying Wooly Milk-Pig
by Rita Goldner
My friend Eva is truly a Renaissance woman in every sense of the word. She is a farm girl, but also has a PhD. We used to work together, and in her spare time she was growing vegetables, tending goats and chickens, spinning wool, and sewing a fabulous summer wardrobe, all while concocting chemical formulas for homemade soap and lotions. In the course of our conversations while working, I gleaned a wealth of information. Topics ranged from “How do you ferment wine and beer?” to “What’s the difference between a virus and a bacteria?” Over the years, Eva taught me a cornucopia of unrelated things, but one bit of philosophy stands out.
She shared an interesting legend in German folklore, and it has served me well in negotiating with business clients and problem solving in a brainstorm session. German farmers tout the benefits of owning a mythical farm animal that would serve all their needs in one package. Its name is eierlegendewollmilchsau. It is literally translated thusly:
eierlegende (egg-laying) + woll (wool) + milch (milk) + sau (sow)
In English, we called it an “egg-laying wooly milk-pig”. You can see my interpretation of this fantasy beast in the illustration.
Eva and I often had to deal with clients who insisted on being able to buy one product that would solve all their problems, while also being beautiful, durable enough to last forever, easy to ship and store, unique, inexpensive, and available very quickly. Of course, we relegated those orders to the Egg-Laying Wooly Milk-Pig Department.
Another example is my husband Dave, who designs and builds small boats (for himself, just for fun). He’s gotten quite proficient with wood, fiberglass, epoxy, and the design process, but his skill set is both a blessing and curse. Now that he can pretty much design anything he wants, he’s plagued with indecision. It has to be long enough to track straight as an arrow through the water, but short enough to turn on a dime. Narrow enough to be fast, but wide-beamed for stability. Light enough for easy portability, but heavyweight enough to withstand scraping along the beach and bumping into a random rock or log. Small enough for solo fishing, yet big enough to include the occasional friend. The surface paint should be perfectly suited for fresh water – and the ocean. Throw in some oarlocks for rowing, a motor mount on the transom, and a back-up sail. Don’t forget storage space for the kayak paddle, just in case. While eight different boats would cover all the bases, he is doggedly pursuing the elusive egg-laying wooly milk-pig.
I notice this mythical quadruped sneaking into the decision-making processes of many of my friends, not only when they are designing some panacea to solve everyone’s problems at once, but also when they are mapping out the itinerary for a business trip or vacation. The suggestions pour in:
“While you’re there, make sure you …”
“Since you’ll be in town anyway, be sure to visit Aunt …”
“Could you make a small side trip and help me with …”
“We’ll all join you on your peaceful getaway and party ’til dawn!”
We’ve all known people who are unwavering in their plans. They will not be diverted from a simple goal, and make no compromises. They caution the less steadfast among us to stop dashing off in several directions at once, and to focus our attentions and efforts.
The protest from my pal Eva and me would be “What’s the fun in that?”
So if you’ve become a bit buttoned up lately, gallop off with the four winds, spread yourself thin, fracture your focus, and nurture your inner eierlegendewollmilchsau!
Rita Goldner is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book, Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy. Rita has also written and illustrated two eBooks, Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, in the Jackson’s Adventure series.For orangutan facts and images and to purchase the book (also available as an ebook), visit OrangutanDay.com. Or by the Kindle version here. Rita’s newest book, Making Marks on the World: A Storybook for Left- and Right-Handed Coloring, is available for purchase here. Works in progress: H2O Rides the Water Cycle, The Flying Artist, and Rose Colored. To view additional illustrations and Rita’s books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Contact Rita here. Follow Rita on Facebook. Subscribe to Rita’s newsletter, Orangutans and More! and receive a free coloring page of today’s illustration.