Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Great Escape

Yesterday after lunch I got into my car to drive to work. I turned my head to look behind me as I began to back up, and saw a flash of big, white and fuzzy. I thought, 'Great. Those two chicken-killing Pyrenese dogs have returned to our farm.' I jumped out of the car, fully prepared to begin a tirade of canine tongue-lashing, and came face-to-face with two big, white and fuzzy -- goats.

The goats are out!! The goats are out!!

Any beginner farmer/rancher can tell you about the initial wave of panic that surges through you when you realize your animals are loose. The panic is immediate followed by a frantic 'what the $%#$ do I do?' I have no ATV, no ropes or lassos, no crew of cowboys (or girls) at my beckon call. What's stopping these crazy high-strung beasts from simply tearing out of the yard and high-tailing it for the next township?

I managed to stifle this initial wave of panic and did some quick assessing. The goats were just ambling around the yard, almost as surprised as I by their new-found freedom. They didn't look like they were going anywhere fast. Actually, they paused and looked at me like, 'Well, we're out. What are we supposed to do now?'

I turned and calmly walked toward the barn. I thought, if I can only get them into the barn, then I can shut the barn doors and they'll be trapped. Yes, they'll be able to cavort and jump around on all the hay, feed bins, lumber and tools, but at least they'll be contained. As I walked I looked behind me. The goats, curious, started to follow. Either their herd-instinct (with me as part of the herd) or their grain-instinct (with me as the bringer of the grain) was kicking in. Probably the latter.

I walked to the outer door of the barn and opened it. I walked inside and left the door open. A few seconds later Eve runs inside and begins playing mountain goat with our stack of hay. Dawn walks up to the door, hesitant. I can see she is suspicious.

I open the grain bin and reach inside with the empty coffee can. I grab an empty bucket and scoop in some grain. I hold the bucket to Dawn, shaking it, letting her hear the rattle of corn and oats. Eve is not shy -- she jumps down from the stack of hay and buries her face in the bucket of grain. Dawn, realizing she is missing out, finally walks inside the barn and nudges aside Eve's head to get her share.

I carefully walk around the goats and close the barn door. A wave of relief washes over me. Disaster averted.

When I got home from work last night Simon did some quick repair work on the fence. Tonight when I get home we'll do a final fence check and then let the goats out of the barn. Just one of the joys of having livestock. Especially goats, which are notorious for fence fiascoes.

After fixing the fence we all packed into the car and went to the circus. A travelling circus show was in town for one night only, and we figured we could splurge and take the family out for some fun. Owen and Graham loved the clowns. They were giggling so much the people sitting near us were looking around at them and smiling.

When it came time for the high-wire act, Benjamin became very worried. He yelled out to them, 'get down! get down!' Then he buried his head in my lap and put my hands over his ears. After a few minutes of hiding he came back up, and decided it was too scary for me to watch, and put his hands over my eyes. All in all, it was a fun show.

I wondered if I could interest the circus people in my goats, if I advertised them as escape artists. The Great Houdini Goat Act. Hmmm. Needs a bit more work, I think.


miSz tUna said...

nice story about the goat :)

Jo said...

Thank you!!

Karen said...

Benjamin is at such a funny age! They say the darndest things when they are so little! I loved the visual of him trying to call down the acrobats, then deciding that if you couldn't see them, they wouldn't fall! Or, maybe he thought they would fall, but you shouldn't be exposed to such a horrible sight! Either way, that was a way cute story!!!