Posted 11-13-2004 at 07:55:57
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Ruby, (Baby's baby) couldn't look any more like her mama if Baby had spit her right out of her mouth. They look like bookends, only Ruby is slightly smaller than Baby.
Not only does she look like her, she has apparently inherited all Baby's troublemaking genes, as I have spent the last six months saving her from certain death on a weekly basis.
Now that colder weather is moving in, we have moved the goats closer to the house where it's easier to deliver hay to them. This meant putting them inside a pasture fenced with goat wire. I have no idea why they call this material goat wire, as it seems designed to trap the goats the minute they get near it. Ruby wasted no time in getting herself ensnared.
"Someone's out there hollerin'." My daughter Jenny announced, when she came in from school one afternoon.
"Well, you're going to have to do better than that." I peered at her over top of my glasses. "Goat, pig, chicken, dog...what?"
"Goat. Baby's baby."
"How come?" I asked.
"I think she's stuck in the fence."
To a cow or goat, the grass is always greener on the other side, and all the goats have poked their heads through the fence at one point or another and then not been able to pull back through due to their horns. We could avoid this problem by whacking those horns off when the goats are babies, but in the summer we turn them out into the grove and the woods, and without their horns, they would be helpless against dogs and other predators.
Eventually they all learn how to deal with the fence situation, but not before they get trapped a dozen times. It appeared that Ruby was beginning her 'goat wire tutorial'. I sighed and went outside to free her. I dragged my feet every step of the way, because the only thing harder than convincing a goat to let you "help" them get their head out of the fence, is convincing them to don a grass skirt and do the hula.
"All right, now," I soothed as I approached her back end, "if you'll just cooperate..."
I was rewarded with a frantic bleat and a brutal kick to my left shin. I gritted my teeth and reminded myself that she was just a dumb animal, and that she was scared. The thing is, trying to bend her neck to the right angle to feed her horns back through one of those four inch squares, is tanatmount to shoving your hands into a running trash compactor. If you're lucky, you get by with only three or four pulverized fingers. That's not even to mention what those sharp little hooves do to your legs and feet. My patience and understanding lasted through two smashed fingers and a scrape down my right leg before I started yelling and cussing.
This is something I go through every winter and every winter I forget the procedure. Just like the stupid goats, I have to learn the hard way. I finally got her free. Three hours later, I went out there and freed her again. The next day at feeding time, I dragged butt out there and freed her again. It was after she mashed my thumb between her horn and the fence this last time, that I remembered the procedure.
The next morning on my way out the door to work, I heard a heartbreaking, pleading bleat. There was Ruby all the way on the other side of the pasture, her head stuck through the fence, her neck craned around so that she could see back through it, and see me.
"Have a good day!" I called and gave her a jaunty little wave before I got in the truck and drove off.
Sounds mean, I know. Sounds harsh, insensitive and uncaring, but the thing is, like everything else in life, there is a method to this madness. I thought about her off and on during the day, hoping for the result that I expected, and when I pulled in the yard, I was rewarded. There she was, stuck in the fence. Only this time, she was about sixty feet from where she was when I left that morning. Sure, she was stuck, but this could only mean that she managed to free herself before getting stuck again.
Three times I had freed her, in essence teaching her how to bend her neck to the right angle to work her horns through the hole. She was halfway there. The question now was, would she be the kind of goat that got tired of this little drama playing itself out over and over again and give up on the tasties on the other side of the fence, or would she stubbornly keep poking her head through that fence and just get better at the whole neck-bending, horn-threading thing? Either way, my work was done. Since we are talking about Baby's baby, if I had to make a wager, I would say that she was going to get good at getting her head out of the fence. Only time will tell.
The next afternoon Jenny came in from school.
"Someone's out there hollerin'." She announced. "It's that big white baby of Cookie's. I think her head's stuck in the fence."