Thursday, May 1, 2008

Taking Everything in Stride

I often see something somewhere which reminds of something somewhere which happened to me. Most of the time, those happenings are personal to me and I'll only share them with my better half if I ever find her. But then there are the ones that to me are so comical, that I want to share them with the world so someone somewhere can find a reason to laugh.

Well, one of those somethings occurred yesterday and I am still smiling about it.

I was watching television at the time (don't remember the program) when a commercial for a long lasting gum aired. The advertisement began with a man walking along and suddenly a goat runs up and slams into him. He gets up and the goat does it again. The commercial then goes on to spread the name of the product around and regularly scheduled programming continues. But I was laughing at a past experience to much to remember much after the man got "rammed."

Ten years ago I lived in a mobile home located on the property of a family north of Prineville, Oregon. The landlord had a number of acres of land and some of it was set aside for animal. At this particular time, there were goats in the fenced area. Two of the goats were billys who were crafty fellows. Somehow or another they would get out of the pasture and would then be found munching on garden plants around the houses. When that happened, my landlord, Don, and I would go out and each pick one up and carry it back to the field and release it with the rest of the herd.

After a while, the billys began to realize that when they had escaped and the humans came near, they would be unceremoniously removed from freedom and placed once again within the confines of the herd. I guess they loved their freedom, as they soon began running off to other areas of the various nearby gardens and grab a quick bite before running off again. It would then take both of us (sometimes my mother would assist us) to corner one of the goats before we could grab him and carry it back to the pasture. However, this didn't last long.

The goats soon learned they could kick and wail about we wouldn't attempt to pick them up. So, we started roping the goats and leading them to the pasture. This worked for about half a dozen time before the billys started thrashing about. The first time it happened, I ended up with a nice rope burn as the goat suddenly dart off, pulling the rope through my hands. After that I began wearing gloves and when they would thrash about, I'd wrap the rope around my hand and start pulling harder.

But doing that was very hard on my arms and shoulder. Besides, anyone driving by and seeing the happenings would swear there was some sort of animal abuse going on. But it was something that had to be done. After all, no one wanted to a goat to go missing.

The odd thing was, every time we put the billys back in the pasture, we would walk the fence line to see if we could find how they were getting out. And every time, we were stumped. We speculated that they were climbing on the hood of a car in the field near the fence and leaping over. However, the dirt and dust on the hood was undisturbed. We looked for areas where they were getting their nose under the fence and wiggling through, but couldn't find anywhere that looked to be happening. We finally decided they were just leaping over four foot or so fence line, which neither of us really believed since we never saw them jumping at all. We were stumped.

One particularly hot afternoon, my mother and I, along with Don and his wife, were relaxing under the shaded back porch of my landlord talking about things. We were all sort of watching the goats in the field for some reason when it happened. As we sat watching, the two escape artist goats walked over towards the wooden gate and when the first was about five feet away, it lowered his head and took off. It hit the gate to the side of the latch causing it to fly open just long enough for the goat to escape before the gate slammed shut again. Without a pause, the second goat followed suit and both billys were free with no evidence of their escape showing anywhere.

Well, we on the porch couldn't help but start laughing. After weeks of trying to figure out how the goats got loose, they made their escape if full view for our enjoyment. After we finished laughing, Don and I got up to herd in the goats. They evidently realized the error of their ways, as they were standing within 10 feet of the gate staring at us. I told my landlord I would circle around the other side of the garage so if they tried to escape capture via that route, I would be there to cut them off. But those critters must have known they were busted, as they just stood there as my landlord checked out the gate, then opened it. At the same time, I grabbed one by the horns and led it back through the gate.

I then turned around to herd the other one back inside and as soon as I grabbed one of his horns, he went spread-eagle on the ground. I grabbed the other horn and attempted to wrestle him up, but he fought me the entire time, remaining on the ground with all four legs splayed out to the side. Don decided he would grab the goat by the back end and lift, but the billy squirmed enough to prevent him from getting his hands underneath. The goat was actually fighting us to keep his freedom.

Finally, I got down on my knees, wrapped my arm around the goats neck and with the other controlling his head (and horns...which wasn't easy as this goat had strong neck muscles), I rose up and was able to drag the goat through the gate. Oddly enough, as soon as he knew it was a lost cause, he gave up fighting me, making my job a lot easier.

To prevent further escapes, we tied down the top and bottom of the gate and then went back to the shade of the back porch.

There were no more escapes after that, and several months later, the entire gaggle of goats was sold and moved to another pasture where Ben and Jerry (my names for the two escapees) could plot new dashes to freedom.

But I'll never forget watching those two goats ram the gate and escape. Nor will I soon forget the fun I had getting them back into the pasture.

1 comment:

Tammy said...

I saw that commercial the other day. I think your story is a lot funnier than the commercial. :o)