Meet our two new girls. They are Boer goats, meat goats, but we don’t intend to eat them, just have them mow our pasture. They are young, sisters and just weaned from their mama. They were kindly delivered to us by the goat breeder, as the mini-van is not an ideal transport for goats. They arrived last Friday and what a Friday that was.
They were absolutely terrified and skittish when they were introduced into the large fenced-in area that our chickens free-range in. I had their shelter all ready for them: straw laid down, mineral lick available and water buckets filled.
The goats huddled together in the grass and I had to leave to pick up my husband from the airport. We returned and we all headed out to the barn. The kids rode their bikes, my husband target practiced with his hunting bow and I researched on my phone as to why our power went out. The power went out a half an hour before, due to a fire burning north of us, taking down some key power lines in its path. No big deal, it was still light out and we had candles and flashlights.
I was walking toward the house to get some water and heard my husband call “THEY’RE OUT!!!!!”
All I could say was “OH SHIT.”
I turned around and saw our two goats hauling goat tail across our 10 acres of pasture and right through the barbed wire to another 10 acres of pasture.
We quickly decided to pack the 3 kids in the van and I’d drive to the road that runs by our pasture and try to head them off, while my husband would run through our pasture and together we’d try to corner them. Yeah right.
I parked and jumped a locked gate and then crawled under an electric fence, all the while shaking a bucket of chicken feed, as if I could lure them. Yeah right, again. They just looked at me like I was off my rocker and took off running deeper and deeper into the pasture.
Back I went again, army crawling under the electric fence, over the locked gate and I drove up a little way, thinking I could get ahead of them. I ran to the back of the old Sierraville school and called my husband on the cell phone. I could see him acres away… heading my way…SO FAR AWAY. I also saw the horses in our pasture running alongside him, bumping him excitedly and he’s running with a bright orange bucket (of feed) and a broom? He looked like a maniac from afar. But nothing compared to the ridiculous sight I was- a panting, sweaty, woman running through pastures in FLIP FLOPS. Smart.
I see them run into a ditch surrounded by thick wild rose shrubs. I also see a guy at the Forest Service building and as I run toward the ditch I holler at him to help me corner them in the ditch. He jumps through barbed wire and gets on one side of them and I barrel through the rose bushes, in my super-appropriate-for-ranch-life flip flops. He gets them to walk toward me and I slowly get closer and they freeze staring at me. Here’s my best chance. Then I realize: WHAT THE HELL DO I HAVE TO GET THEM? I have no rope. I have nothing. But, I also have no choice. I must try. I leap forward and attempt to grab one by the hind legs and fall face first into the rose bushes. They, of course, gracefully leap away, unscathed, heading the way they came- through acres and acres of pasture that I JUST RAN ACROSS. The forest service guy yells, “GOOD LUCK!”. I nod as I’m running, agreeing with him. I’m gonna need it.
I meet up with my husband and we watch the goats run into a yard behind some stacked hay bales. I whisper to him to go one way around the hay bales and I’ll go the other, as if to ambush them. As if I’m channeling General MacArthur or something.
Yeah, so, that didn’t work.
The sisters took one look at us and ran like hell. But this time one went BACK into the pasture and the other decided to go ONTO THE HIGHWAY. I chased the goat that went into the highway, traffic was stopped and the goat trotted along, screaming for her sister. Of course everyone in town was out watering their lawns, getting a front row seat to the escaped goat spectacle. Awesome. Way to make an impression.
The goat ran across the highway and into a yard, through the yard, through many kinds of fences (barbed wire and such) and back toward a creek. Another guy filling up his car at the Country Store (presumably a kind tourist who was bequeathed with one hell of a story to tell when he got back home) saw my predicament and asked if I needed help. I breathlessly yelled “Yes!!!”. The man who owned the property the goat was running around in brandished a rope and I knew I had found my goat savior. He locked up part of his yard, so we could drive the goat into it. It was all a blur at this point, I was about to have a heart attack from all the running and the fact it was still 90 degrees out at 7pm. Somehow, the man I shall call The Goat Wrangler, roped the goat and we carried her by her legs to his horse trailer and locked her up. She was screaming all the way…if you’ve never heard a goat scream, you’re missing out, it’s the most ridiculous sound you’ve ever heard.
All the while, my husband was trying to get the other goat, but responsibly remembered that we essentially abandoned our three children in our running mini-van. So he said to hell with the goat and went to check on the kids….had a cop drove by while we were engaged in goat chasing, I’m sure we’d be arrested upon our return for being negligent and shitty parents. Sigh.
Meanwhile, The Goat Wrangler generously agreed to help my husband get the other goat while I drove the kids back to the house. Of course the power was out, so they hung out watching TV in van. I went into the goat enclosure to see how in the hell the goats got out and found a hole in the fencing that I hadn’t caught when I did a fencing check before they arrived. I jammed a feed bowl over it, so at least we could get the goats back in the enclosure and not have them escape again till we could fix the fencing.
While my husband and The Goat Wrangler were out in our neighbor’s pasture and I had the kids go in the house, told them to eat anything they want, play with toys and don’t hurt each other or themselves. I also told my 6 year old to watch the other two. Not one of my best parenting moments, but I had to do what I had to do. I went out there to help. I heard the goat screaming in the creek area and followed the creek a bit till I saw them.
Then we all heard coyotes. Yipping. Like after a kill.
I’m going to be brutally honest here. Call me terrible, call me inhumane, call me heartless…I was slightly relieved. You try chasing goats all over God’s Green Earth in FLIP FLOPS and 90 degree heat for over 3 hours. I mean, this was a DAUNTING task. This was an IMPOSSIBLE task. To capture two wily, intelligent and fast creatures that are absolutely terrified of you, have absolutely no bond with you, will never return to your pasture because it’s not home to them and are probably looking for their mother anywhere and everywhere they can…couple that with two people that have NEVER owned goats before, can’t rope something that isn’t moving, much less something that moves really fast and generally have no freaking idea what they are doing….really what are the chances? We should have gave up hours before, if we were smart.
But…we aren’t smart. And I loved those stupid goats the moment I saw them. And we had The Goat Wrangler on our side.
The goat ended up stuck in the muddy water of the creek. In the middle of a massive entanglement of willows, so tired and so over it, it just gave up. With the gruff instruction of The Goat Wrangler, my husband jumped into the mass of willows, into the mud and water and grabbed the goat and pulled her out. He came out of the creek with her, tripped onto a rock and gashed his shin. Bleeding profusely, while the goat used her last bit of energy to scream and struggle, he held onto that damn goat. It was stunningly heroic, in a ridiculous goat-saving sort of way.
We carried her by her legs back to our house, through 10 acres of pasture. We put her in the chicken pen (which was a converted sheep shelter and very large) and she screamed and threw herself onto the fencing for about ten minutes.
It still wasn’t over. I had to go back and get the other goat.
The Goat Wrangler and I drove back and I brought a large dog carrier with me to put her in. Somehow we shoved the pissed off and scared goat into the carrier and The Goat Wrangler gave me some wise advice:
1. Fix the damn fence.
2. Get collars.
3. Get rope.
4. Tie the rope to collars and then you’ll have something to grab onto.
I thanked him profusely. Over and over again. He didn’t say much, just shook his head and said “You’re welcome” and went inside his house. In his head I bet he was thinking “You fish-out-of-water-dumb-ass-city-kids. You better get collars and a rope, cause I’m never doing that shit again.” If that is what he was thinking, I’ll never know, but I wholeheartedly agree. (I dropped off some homemade jam and pickles with a gushing thank you note the next day.)
I went back to the house and we (for once!) thought of a plan before we did anything. We came up with a plan to put the dry goat in the shelter and then hold down the wet goat, dry her off (she was shivering and goats HATE to be wet) and then bring her to the shelter. That plan (for once!) went smoothly.
Needless to say, our goat girls spent the next day locked in their shelter. I think everyone involved was relieved about that- they got to recover from their escapades and my husband was able to fix the gate and the hole in the fence. We somehow got collars on them and attached 10 feet of loose rope so we could grab them and eventually train them to let us lead them. I even bought two ropes for roping livestock and practiced a bit.
I don’t even want to go into how stupidly hard it was to get them back into the shelter that night, and the night after…but now they seem to be getting used to things around here. They are eating and drinking, which is a good sign. They still run from me when I try to get them into the shelter, or pretty much anytime they see me, but I’m working on them. I’m seeing more curiosity than fear in their goat eyes (have you SEEN goat eyes??? Now that’s some weird shit right there.)
We still have yet to name them. My kids came up with Rhubarb and Huckleberry, which I quite like.
Although Crazy-Ass-Goats have been their names for the past 3 days….quite fitting.