from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
(Goat Suite Saga #3)
February 2011 (the desert outside Las Cruces, NM)
One of my semi-regular chores while living on the compound was to feed the goats in the morning; usually just before or right at sunrise. Goats are no different than any other farm animal. They let you know by their bleats of protest that they want to be fed and that you are already late in feeding them.
One morning I left the house, walked the 15 yards to the first gate, opened the gate and started my 25-30 yard walk to the pens where the goats were housed. The first pen held Mama Goat and her two male offspring, Terry and Larry. The second pen held Papa Goat. Named Tater, and nicknamed “Tate” he was also a son of Mama Goat. Tate was kept separate because he could be pretty rough. He was nice but he tended to be overbearingly strong in his pushiness, thus he was penned separately.
In order to feed the goats I had to go through another gate behind their pens to get to the hay and, if we had some, sweet feed from an open shed also behind their pens.
As usual as I passed through the first gate, Mama, Tate and Larry were standing there facing me, starting in on their usual cacophony of bleating chorus to let me know that I was as usual not punctual enough for their liking. Terry was lying down which did not seem out of the ordinary to me especially since I was still some distance from them.
As I drew closer, I noticed that Terry was not only lying down, he was stretched out. The closer I got the more I noticed. He was stretched out, not moving and there were dark splotches on the ground around his head and neck. Oh no! A coyote must have gotten to him during the night! I altered my path to take me towards the side of their pen so I could see what had happened and assess what kind of damage and destruction there was. This action brought louder bleats from Mama, Tate and Larry because I was not moving toward their feed.
As I kept walking I noticed that Terry started to move. Then it dawned on me what was going on. Terry had found a soft spot in the fencing between his pen and Tate’s pen and pushed his head through it. The spot was real low, just a little above ground level. Once he pushed his head through this weakness the two intersecting fencing strips snapped back and trapped him just like a Chinese finger trap. He could do nothing but lie there waiting for help.
Once I saw what happened I knew that I needed to distract the other goats in order to get him out of the trap he had gotten himself into. The only way to do this was to feed the other goats. While they were busy munching down I would be able to work unimpeded to set him free.
As I altered my path to take me to the second gate, toward the feed Mama, Tate and Larry quieted some. Unfortunately Terry noticed my movement and re-started his bleating. The more I moved toward the gate, the louder and more vehement Terry’s bleating got. It progressed to the screaming level as I reached the second gate. Frantically bleating louder and faster, I could hear him yelling at me. “HEY! Where are you going? Can’t you see I need you to get me out of this NOW!! HEY! YOU ARE NOT LISTENING TO ME!! HEY! HEY! HEY!”
After I got the goats fed I turned my attention to getting Terry out of the mess he was in without getting too torn up myself. It took a bit of working, but I could see how to get him out without cutting the fence and in a reasonable amount of time. Unfortunately, goats don’t always want to co-operate, they just want out and NOW is the imperative with them.
While I was working on Terry, Mama Goat decided that she was interested in what I was doing. She had enough food to satisfy her for now and her curiosity rose up to make her turn her attention our way. Mama Goat is a really docile goat so she just turned around and watched me from about one foot away. Tate about that time was getting curious too. As previously stated Tate was friendly, he just wasn’t as docile as Mama. I had to get Terry released now or leave and get human assistance. Terry was beginning to think he could help out and started squirming about this time also.
Fortunately, I was able to extract him fairly quickly and without too much trouble. It was also fortunate that his horns hadn’t come in yet so I didn’t end up losing my fingers or thumb, not this round…on another occasion after his horns were in he would try his hardest to separate my thumb from my hand, but not today.
Once Terry was free he rose to his knees. Seeing Mama standing nearby he jumped to his feet, ran to her, dropped to his knees again, butted her bag and start sucking like he had endured a horrific ordeal and had starved for at least the last week. Mama understood his trauma and let him suck longer than usual. The only thing that stopped her was when I went to shut the second gate. She took this as a sign that I was going to feed them more. Compassion being way over rated and tossed aside as hunger ruled once again.
I didn’t fix the fence right then. I thought, good, maybe you’ve learned a lesson.
I shouldn’t have put it off.
Sure enough, the next day, Terry was in the same predicament, in the same place, only a little later in the day. My cousin Karen discovered Terry spread out on the ground again. Only difference this time was brother Larry was lying down with his leg and hoof across Terry as if to say, “it’s alright somebody will get you out shortly.”
When Karen came in and told me, I immediately gathered up the tools, went out and fixed the fence to make sure it didn’t happen again.
I learned that Terry, the goat, would never “learn the lesson.” And I, human Terry, learned to not put off the fence mending.
I have thought about the lessons of this episode with Terry Goat and compare it to the human plight. We often get ourselves into a bind, call out to God for help. When He surveys what needs to be done and starts moving towards setting things in place in order to help us we begin loudly yelling, “HEY! Where are you going? Can’t you see I need you to get me out of this NOW!! HEY! YOU ARE NOT LISTENING TO ME!! HEY! HEY! HEY!”
We don’t see He has to get other things taken care of in order to take care of us.