This is a slice of life story. It is not intended to make any particular point, but if you find one, please let me know!
It started out as an ordinary day but ordinary days were a bit unusual for us right then. Following the death of my daughter, my granddaughter and her toddler daughter moved in with us. Allie was also in her third trimester awaiting another baby. So we had clicked into a different norm, a very expectant chapter.
That day a young mother who cleans for me had just arrived and was getting her mop water ready. I was starting to make a big kettle of soup to go with bread I’d just slid into the oven to bake. Allie and Cece were having cereal and watching the birds. The phone rang. A frantic voice relayed to me that all my goats were out in the park. The park is on the other side of the fence from our main pasture.
I quickly called Charles as Lily and I headed to the barn for a bucket of feed. Even as I touched his name on my phone, I groaned remembering he was twenty-five miles away at our Camilla office. “Do you have any other tips for getting the goats in other than calling them to eat?” I asked trying not to sound sarcastic. He wisely did not laugh as he said he’d send someone from the Cairo office to help me.
At that point I was still hoping it wasn’t really the whole herd. Neighbors are prone to get very excited about these things. If they see one or two goats they multiply the number to twenty immediately. But as Lily and I trod through soggy grass closer to the park my heart plummeted into my nice new sandals, already turning soupy. The whole herd really was out! A tree had fallen across our fence and those malicious goats had seen it as a super highway to freedom. They were greedily grazing near a quiet carousel. The good thing was they were sticking together, not spread out all over the park.
I wished I’d taken time to change into good shoes as I climbed up on that fallen tree. Sandals were not good for crossing that slickery bridge. As I started across, Lily was almost in tears. “Miss Brenda, you’ll break something! Don’t do that!” I told her to keep beating on the feed bucket and stay where she was.
Two girls from the office arrived, cheerfully ready to round up goats. I scrambled through grapevines to retrieve the bucket over the fence from Lily and send her back to the house. “We’ve got this now,” I said confidently. “Once we get one goat to lead the way, they’ll follow her right back through here.”
After some bucket-beating and maneuvering we had two girls behind them and me at the fence with the feed. They were within a breath of walking back across that log. And, in case you don’t know it, goats really love to climb and walk on things like bridges. Remember “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”?
But at that particular moment a big dog barked not far away and a neighbor yelled from another direction. The goats scattered, running as if a wolf were after them, some toward the street, some toward the closed-in basketball court, some heading towards town. It took us thirty minutes to gather them up again. This time we had the brilliant idea of penning them up in the basketball court. It’s really an old tennis court and has high fence all around. But–one of the two gates was broken and of course the goats figured that out right quick. They were now in high gear. There was no stopping them. They were running and leaping and cavorting, not one herd anymore but fifteen wildly excited goats gone AWOL.
We had to split up, one to follow goats heading down a street to the cemetery, another to try to head the northbound ones back towards home, and a third to direct traffic. By now cars were stopping along First Street and lots of advice was being yelled from open windows but no one was getting out to help. Finally one dear man did help us. Violet begged him for a ride from three blocks away after she’d run goats until she had no breath left! She said he thought she was having a heart attack.
When we finally got them in and fastened gates around the small pasture so goats could not get to their wonderful bridge again, I counted and thought we were missing one little goat. The girls were sure, too, that they’d seen one going under a house in the next block. But after prodding and peering around that house we found nothing and heard no bleating.
“Let’s go home,” I said. “And if anyone asks, yes, I’d love to sell every last one of these goats. In fact, I’d sell them real cheap, as in for nothing!”
Those two girls, their faces bright red from running so much, were the best of sports. We all ended up in my kitchen gulping cool water and enjoying the smell of fresh-baked bread.
I took off my sandals. My pretty new sandals were now hideous, mud-smeared things. I dumped them in the trash. At that moment Allie informed me that the friend I was to meet for lunch had called and wondered where I was. I looked down at my torn, muddy bedraggled self and found the grace to start laughing.