Sunday, May 6, 2012
You guys aren't going to believe this...
And I don't even know quite how to begin. I guess I will just lay it all out there. Chuck drove to Mississippi to get our new buck and bring him home. It was a very long trip, and Chuck took some naps on the side of the road on the way there, and on the way home. He had a wonderful visit with Terry Hankins at Egypt Creek Ranch, and got to see the "headquarters" of Goat Rancher magazine. While Chuck travelled there and back, I did the single mother thing to the three kids, and on Friday, when Chuck stopped at Tractor Supply on his way into town, I met him over there and showed my elderly mother our new goat.
"What?" I asked, incredulously. "What do you mean, 'Shaw's gone'?" He proceded to tell me that he wanted to get Shaw in his quarantine pen since he'd had such a long trip. He put him in, and fastened the panels, and was turning around to get the hay and water bucket when he noticed Shaw started to spin around. He said the thought "this is going to be bad" had just begun to form in his head when Shaw grabbed one mouthful of grass, bolted, and scrambled up and over the fence and he hit the ground running. Chuck took off to the barn to get a bucket of feed and the gator (Chuck gets a lot of sprint training at the farm - more than the normal farmer, I'd say). He got Shaw turned from the direction of the main road and back towards the rest of the goat pastures. Shaw clearly had no interest in the bucket. I guess he figured the last time someone lured him in with a bucket, he got grabbed and stuffed in a cage in the back of a truck and driven all night to parts unknown. Chuck had noticed he never would lie down in the truck, so in hindsight, he figures he should have known the goat was pretty freaked out.
Chuck followed Shaw down through the neighbor's place, parked the gator, then continued to chase him on foot, bucket of feed in hand, to the next farm, which is nothing but cleared tobacco land and woods. Shaw went to the back of the cleared area, and then entered the woods. Chuck took off after him. He followed him down almost to the lake at the back of the property, and then lost sight of him. All this happened, of course, before he called me to tell me what had happened. His phone was in the truck back at the farm. I can imagine he was hoping he wouldn't have to make that call. I told him to go ahead and keep looking, and I would load up the kids and take them to the carnival. I told the kids they had to be absolutely perfect because I was taking them solo, and they really were so very good until I let them get some cupcakes at the bake sale tent. I should have known better. After the cupcakes, the fisticuffs ensued. I always love it when people gasp in horror as one of my kids leaps onto the other, fists flying. I know there is a lot of research that proves sugar doesn't make kids go nuts, but either my kids are just particularly sensitive, or I have bemoaned their post sugar behavior so often they have internalized it and feel compelled to act like little Neanderthals just so I won't be disappointed (sorry, Geico caveman).
By the time I got home, I was exhausted, and Chuck had texted me that he was giving up the search for the evening as darkness was settling in. He had even gone so far as to load Piper up in the back of the truck and drive her around as "bait." I asked him why he chose her, since she had kids and wasn't going to act like she was in heat. He answered, "because she is the loudest." I saw his point, but also thought that if the blaaaahhs coming out of the goat were translatable as "I can't stand this guy, he shoved me in the truck" it might not be such a great thing. What he needs is a doe coming in heat in the back of the truck, blaahing out the goat equivalent of the redneck girl's pickup line... "hey y'all, I'm so drunk!" To that end, I have a call in to the vet to see how far a buck can detect a doe in heat on the wind, and to get a shot to bring some unbred does in heat just in case it helps. I kinda figure Shaw is halfway to Mississippi by now, though, so it may be a moot point.
I try to retain my Zen about this sort of thing. A friend of mine that I emailed about it was saying she'd be putting her fist through the wall. As crazy as it sounds, I had emailed her earlier in the day that I was going to have Chuck give him some Bovi Sera because I didn't want him to drop dead before he bred a single doe. I just kinda had a feeling something was going to happen and I was never going to get any kids from him, but unfortunately my little feeling was that he'd catch pneumonia, not run away. Usually being a glass half empty sort of girl works out for me. Well, who am I trying to kid - my glass is always plumb empty with a hole in it. It makes me pretty good at thinking of eveything that could go wrong, and I'm too type A to not try to prepare for all those things my mind has told me could possibly go wrong. Chuck gets really tired of my paranoia, but sometimes he will look at me and say, "how did you know that was going to happen?" and I just have to say it is because it is the worst possible scenario, and that is how my mind works. This time, I missed the mark and didn't think of everything, so I did what any other goat farmer would do after such a day. I grabbed the baby and drew a nice hot bath, and lost myself in watching her joy at splashing in the water. In the grand scheme of things, this is a setback, but not worth falling apart about. There are things in this world I couldn't handle, but they are the dark fears that live in every mother's heart, the sorts of things I dare not even put down on paper, because I'm afraid it would tempt fate to see what really would end me.
Although my little feeling tells me we ain't never gonna see this goat again, I have put up a flyer at the local eatery, and will put up some more. I drove around today, and when I saw folks out working in their yards, I pulled over and prefaced my introduction with, "I know this sounds crazy, but we've lost our goat." I had a lot of strange looks out of folks, and I met some people who had spent their childhood summers picking up coke bottles (back in the day when a discarded bottle would earn you the deposit back when you turned it in) off the side of the road on the way to my great grandfather's country store (Shelton Store is still on most maps) and they said they usually managed to get enough money for their efforts to buy a little something once they got there. Virginia rode with me, and she slept as I drove. I came across some folks that had seen Chuck driving around the day before with Piper in the truck, and I suppose I at least answered some of the questions they had about the suspicious guy with the goat in his truck out driving around really slow and staring off into the woods. I also came across some gravel roads that went through woods so thick and tangled that a goat, barring coyotes or hunters, could live forever and never be seen by a human eye. Every now and then, I almost thought I heard a banjo playing in the distance.
Now, I always say that I want my blog entries to be helpful to folks, so let's start with all the things we did wrong. Even though this is pretty darn embarrassing, I hope that at some point in the future when someone is bringing home goats and they're getting ready to get them out, that if something gives them pause about the setup, they remember this and say to themselves, "hmm... I remember when Chuck had that buck get out and take off" and they make the changes necessary to avoid having the same thing happen. I could say in hindsight that the first thing we did wrong was buy Shaw, but that would be unfair, and I sure did want to add that Terminator through Southwest Cisco back into the herd. We could have turned him out with the other goats, but I still don't like to bring anything to the farm without quarantining it for everybody's sake. What we should have done is move Boomer out of the Fort Knox of buck pens we've built for him, and put Shaw in there. It has sides high enough I have to lean waaaaay back and heave the hay up and over the top. I'm not sure they are fully seven feet high, but they are close. We also could have set up an electronet aound the outside of the pen just as a secondary barrier, or something for him to have gotten tangled up in so Chuck could at least have had a chance to get to him and snag him. We've had goats get out before, but never had them just flat out run. Chuck says that is what surprised him most - the fact that Shaw just ran like a scalded dog. He only stopped twice the entire time to pause and look at Chuck and his bucket before spinning back around and bolting. Maybe he didn't like the pink bucket. We have all sorts of colors, but Chuck had grabbed a pink one from the barn. He says if you are going to go running after goats through your neighbors' yards you could at least save yourself the embarrassment of doing it with a pink bucket in your hand. I also want to ask all those people with goats in old holey fences how they keep them in. There are some goats and Pyrenees down the road from the house with two strands of hot wire standing maybe 28" high. And their goats don't ever get out! Do they mix Benadryl in the feed, or what? It is amazing to me how they get them to stay put.
I feel badly for poor old Chuck. He has the worst luck of anyone I have ever seen. I mean, how many people do you know that have actually been attacked by stinging caterpillars? He said the moment he put Shaw in the pen, the look of panic on Shaw's face told him he had chosen poorly, but at that point, it was too late. Besides the whole money lost issue, which smarts pretty badly, I hate it because he looked like a good buck, and it is just one more thing. Just once it would be nice to be the windshield. I know we sure are tired of being the bug.
As usual on even a non goat hunting Saturday night, the kids and I drove home in the dark and left Chuck finishing up. The kids were asleep, and I listened to Back Porch Music as is my custom. I heard the most beautiful song. It is sad, and poignant, and interestingly, is set in the county next to mine. Stokes County is just west of Rockingham County, where the city of Eden lies. I am going to try to link the song off of here, but in case it doesn't work, the song is called "Leaving Eden" and it is being covered by the Carolina Chocolate Drops. I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and if you happen to be between here and Mississippi, and you see a red roan buck goat on the side of the road with a sign that says "Mississippi or bust," how about giving us a holler. We sure would like to get him back. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itTJhMSDe3U&feature=related