Yesterday was rough. In truth, the whole month of January has been a stinking hot mess, farm-wise. So yesterday I decided to mope and wallow a little. I decided to try and squeeze in a nap between the time that the bus dropped the girls off at home, and the time that I'd have to start dinner.
I'm just hitting that actually asleep/cozy good feeling when the girls burst into my room, breathless - Mama the goats are out and they're eating a TON of rabbit food! Fly out of bed, throw on the nearest sweatshirt (which I will later notice has a generous smear of chicken turd on it from a slip and fall earlier that day), run outside, pop into my boots and head toward the back of the house. It is dusk and I've charged out without a headlamp or flashlight, but still manage to find my way in the dim. Sure enough, I see three demon goats hoovering down the hens' layer pellets. The goats don't fear me at all, so my screaming and swearing go completely ignored. It isn't until I get in there and start wrangling horns and shoving butts that I finally get their attention.
At this point the goats, positively gleeful over their forbidden feast start galloping and frolicking back down the hill toward their pen. They've won and they know it and they're just revelling in the moment. I've got a bag of bakery-reject bread in my hand as bait to get them back in the pen and they've taken notice. Archie begins his playful-turned-painful jumping up and bonking at my knees in an attempt to get the bread. I'm already quite pissed at this point that these gluttonous little bastards have once again foiled a good nap, making Archie's bullying merely the tipping point for my frustration/exhaustion avalanche to commence in a volley of swear words in an assortment of languages.
I realize a short while later exactly how loud I was yelling when I hear the word Assholes! ring off of the nearby trees and shed. I feel a moment's guilt that I should be verbally assaulting my whole neighborhood until I remember that our nearest neighbor, the one most likely to heave witnessed my tirade is the guy with a possessed dachshund that likes to yip it up at 3 am. I take small comfort in assuming that this won't be the first time that he's heard someone yell asshole in his general direction.
I finally get the goats back down and into the pen with the help of the stale bread. I latch the gate behind me and start slogging back up the hill toward the house. It is full dark by now, windy and maybe 35 degrees. I am ready as hell to be back in the house, and am almost there when three white blobs go racing past, right back to the chicken & rabbit food.
My second round of curses was even louder than the first and peppered with some choice Spanish that I picked up in my days as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant. (I digress slightly here, but I really must recommend swearing in Spanish for those moments when even the mighty F-word doesn't seem to express your emotions adequately. There's something about the way that it rolls off the tongue and can completely destroy the character of one's mother in just a few quick syllables that diffuses my anger like nothing else.) Again, I was utterly disregarded by the goats as a non-threat and worse still, one without a bread bribe to motivate. Out of sheer frustration I picked up a fallen Cedar switch off of the ground and started chasing the goats back toward their pen while swinging my switch madly and shouting empty threats of physical harm.
When we got back to the pen, I discovered, by the silvery light of the moon, the thing that had been my undoing. The goats had managed to smash up the fencing to the point that there was literally a giant hole in the side. A tunnel to freedom, if you will, and one that I was helpless to do anything about in that moment.
Wrangling three wayward goats, hellbent on running wild, is a full-time job in and of itself. There was no way that I could keep the goats out of the feed and/or my azaleas and repair/plug a platter-sized hole in the fence at the same time. So I had no choice but to stand there in the cold and dark, trying to keep my hoofed devils in check until backup came.
Where were my husband and children all this time, you ask? My husband was on his way home from work. He had called me at some point mid-nap to let me know that he was on his way. Unfortunately, because the call came mid-nap I had no idea how long ago that had been. Bill's commute is 45-minutes on a perfect day. On a Friday at rush hour, it can be upwards of two hours. Since darkness had long since fell, I really had no idea how much time had passed. My heart leapt with hope at each passing vehicle, and sank as each one kept on truckin'.
My kids, meanwhile were inside watching a movie, apparently completely confident in my ability to single-handedly wrangle our critters effectively, which is sweet of them, but really, they should know better than that by now.
Some time later, I estimate about 45 minutes or so into the standoff, I hear Livy calling to me from the front porch. She's worried about me. I tell her that I'm ok, but that I need a headlamp. She brings me the headlamp and I send her back in to where it's warm with the instruction to call her Dad to see where he is in his commute. She disappears back into the house and it's back to just me and the goats. And the bats, a pair of owls hooting in the distance, and the neighbor's 70(?) foot tall maple tree creaking and cracking in the wind, just over our heads. It was cold, spooky and boring as hell.
The darkness seems to have calmed the goats dramatically, but I am determined to hold my line, lest they try for another crack at the feed bins. They're no longer concerned about me whooping their butts with the switch, if they ever were, and have since approached it cautiously, sniffed it, and as they do with everything, tried to eat it. It is, however, apparently too tough for their spoiled palates, and is subsequently used as a scratching post for that hard to reach behind-the-horn area.
Finally, finally I hear the sweet sound of Bill's truck come rumbling down the road. Hallelujah I am saved! He appears a few minutes later with his fencing tools and proceeds to help me wrangle the now-docile goats back into the pen. We shine our collective headlamp light on the ridiculously big hole that the goats have made in the fence and shake our heads in awe. There's a farm adage that says "If your fence won't hold water, it won't hold goats." That shit is true.
Bill hastily repaired the hole by adding a patch, and we bade the Houdini goats goodnight.
This latest flagrant jailbreak has pushed the new, taller (and hopefully stronger) goat pen to priority #1 on Bill's honey-do list. He and his Dad put most of it together last weekend, but in light of this latest escape, it needs to be finished this weekend. I promised Bill that if he got it all done, I'd even let him sleep! ;) Now we'll see who has the last laugh, cabras del diablo!
Who am I kidding? It'll probably still be you.