25 July 2016

A Goat's Life

I heard a strangled bleat, a last cry for help, a final hope for life. I looked up and saw her body hanging limply.

My weekend was lived largely outside of my comfort zone. Thankful for YouTube videos and the encouragement of my father-in-law, I managed to disassemble a part of my truck’s dashboard to install a trailer brake controller. To be honest, a week ago, I didn’t even know what a brake controller was or that I needed it, but here I was putting one in.

I planned to hook up our horse trailer after church and get comfortable maneuvering it before introducing Valley and gettting her used to it as well. I found myself bouncing down a washboard dirt road, trailer in tow, thinking about this neuropsychologist came to be the kind of guy who was raising dust with a big truck and a blue trailer on a country road.

When I returned to the farm, Grace and Jeff were crouching in the garden pulling weeds. Heather was mucking out a stall. Tessa was assuredly somewhere, though I had no idea where that might be. Heather showed me two buckets filled with straw and manure and asked me to go dump them.

My path took me past the goat’s pen, though I was paying it no mind. However, hearing the strangled cry, I raised my eyes and my pulse quickened. That was the sound of something dying, a last prayer for salvation. I saw her there, all the weight of her brown body hanging by her neck, a self-induced lynching for crimes unknown. “Is she still alive?” I wondered. She must be, I had just heard her wail.

“Jeff, you’ve got a goat hung up!” I hurried to the pen, unsure of what to do. I am a brain doctor, not a farmer, rancher, or veterinarian. I grabbed her around the middle with my right arm and lifted her. I had to get the pressure off of her throat. She began a raspy gasping. But how was I going to free her head? Her 4 inch horns were like a barb on a fishing hook; going in was no problem but coming out nearly impossible. Jeff arrived a few moments later. I held her body, while Jeff worked to extract her head.

We got her out and I set her down. Her typical spunkiness was gone. She was exhausted and confused. She continued fighting for breath, doing an unintentional impression of Robert Loggia. She walked a few steps and laid down in the shade, her chest heaving.

“I’m not sure she’s going to make it”, Jeff said.  

Meanwhile, a smaller black goat began to harass her. He climbed on her back, butted her head, and tried to lay on her. Jeff thought that maybe she was in heat. She’d just survived a near death experience and all the boys can think about was sex. I rescued her again, this time not from an iron noose but from assault. I bent down and awkwardly scooped her up, thinking to myself, “how do I hold a goat?” However I was supporting her, though, she didn’t mind. I carried her to the pen my wife had just cleared out and set her down in the shade. Finally, she drank, grateful for the care of this novice farm hand. 

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