Kansas City, Kansas l jm@jmhuxley.com

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A Real Day in the Country

June 22, 2019

 

A neighbor called to say one of our goats was in his garden and that is how the day began, the day that would cost my husband a finger.

 

It started out like any other day here in the country--one of peacefulness, or, at least, peaceful serenity regarding whatever was coming our way. Another day where any peace offered would be evaluated under all things considered.

 

First, my kids had been away at camp in Colorado and I had been caring for their newly arrived, highly energized Puggle puppy. I had barely begun to sip my coffee that morning when I heard the little dickens chewing something unusually crunchy, and as it turned out, that something was my glasses, retrieved all too easily from my bedside table, the lenses scratched beyond repair.

 

I really couldn't function without them and my prescription had expired, so I quickly made an appointment to see an optometrist in the city, getting the last one on a Friday afternoon. I was on my way later when my husband called, telling me one of our goats was loose in the neighbors' yard. Could I deal with her?

 

No, I really couldn't. I had a meeting scheduled with my mother and her estate lawyer just prior to the optical appointment and the goat would have to wait.

 

Could the goat wait?

 

Reluctantly resolved, Kevin, assured me he would head home from the office to deal with the situation.

 

Hours passed.

 

As I was sitting for my eye exam, my phone began to buzz repeatedly. My doctor stopped and asked me if I wanted to respond to it. No, I really didn't. "Yes, I guess I'd better," I said.

 

Kevin couldn't corral the goat. He'd been at it a while. He needed me home asap. "I'll be there as soon as I can," I assured him. But, as it turned out, that wasn't fast enough.

 

Now, here is where I skip some of our story.

 

Suffice it to say, the goat was most uncooperative.

 

She was in our neighbors' unfenced garden area, mind you. By the time the afternoon was over, and the optometrist had stopped my exam, armed with a story her family would not soon forget, instructing me to return another day, my husband had already lost part of his finger. He'd reached down to pull a dog back so he could get the goat and the dog hadn't been much for his idea. She'd snapped at him, taking part of the index finger on his right hand.

 

It was after eight when we'd left our local hospital, gotten to the pharmacy for pain killers, and were finally nearing home, the goat still loose in the neighbors' yard.

 

You may think goats weird. You may think goats cute. You may think goats interesting. Especially if their eyes are particularly yellow and slanted, or their goatees are especially long and wooly. Or if they appear to have no ears, as some do. But you probably don't think them hard. As in, the hardest animal ever to keep as a pet. As in life-changing, body-altering, back-breaking hard. But they are.

 

Goats can be stubborn and willy and obnoxious and ridiculously hard.

 

So, so hard.

 

You see, a goat will never be content with what she is given. There will always be a need for more and the grass is always greener when it doesn't belong to her. She will expect you to understand this. Especially when she finds ways to jump the fence to eat what weeds are along the road.

 

And when she runs through through your neighbors' perfectly manicured landscaping to delight in what is there despite her own green pastures and I can't help but recognize the symbolism there. So much of nature speaks of things a closed human mind can't comprehend through open eyes.

 

If fortune can be found in this tale, it's in our neighbors' absence from home when we arrived at ours. Though the goat, Licorice, wasn't in plain sight at this point, I knew she was still there, that she hadn't yet been found out by a wild animal or intent dog. I knew I would have to find find her, and on my own, without the kids I'd normally round up as hands. So I instructed Kevin, now loaded up with pain killers, to go to bed. I would deal with her myself. Hopefully before the sun disappeared beyond the early summer horizon.

 

She'd last been seen in some trees at the front of the property, he'd said, and that is where I found her. I had to crawl into the copse to retrieve her, ducking underneath low-lying branches and prickly evergreen needles, praying all the while against ticks and other unpleasantries, holding my small bucket of grain upright so as not to spill it. I figured I could lure her back down the gravel road to our home with a little snack. Alas, she was already so agitated following hours of freedom and subsequent pursuit, she was like a skittish, feral mare. She wanted no grain, no me. She wanted to run. Fast.

 

She bolted past me across the lawn toward a large, barn, open on both ends. I was happy to see Kevin behind me at this point, because as sorry as I felt for him in that moment, I knew I couldn't do this on my own. He knew I couldn't either.

 

 

We had to scour the property, again, and once we'd determined she'd not exited the barn out the back side, and, again, thankful our neighbors were out for the evening, managed to close the gargantuan sliding doors shut, an uneasy task for my poor husband, whose wobbly muscular support I was all too glad too have despite my growing pity for him. Those doors must have weighed a real ton.

 

I managed to locate a light switch but the interior was dim and murky, the interior enormous. It was filled with giant combines and medium sized tractors and a variety of farming implements and I soon realized we could be there a while. Thank heavens it wasn't too long before I had an idea to get down on all fours myself, and looking beyond a set of massive tires, I spotted a set of legs gathered up in a corner. She was pressed up against the walls like a spider folded in on itself. So much for goats not being intelligent or cunning.

 

Did I mention this one had horns? Long, thin pointy ones.

 

Well, Kevin positioned himself on one side, I on another, and it stands to reason she shot toward him and not me, right into his bad hand like a lead ball out of a cannon, her long, pointy horns leading the way. As he screamed in pain and tried to hold her, while she bucked and reared like a mad bull, I raced around equipment to get to his side, praying all the while neither of us would be back in the ER with significant wounds. As I straddled her to get a rope around her neck and she reared those horns back toward me, I was still praying impalement wouldn't be added to our list of farm injuries.

 

Oh, the stories we have to share. They really are never ending.

 

Fortunately, we managed to get the rope around her neck, and while Kevin held one horn with his left hand and I held her other with my right, using the rope in my other as a lead simultaneously, we managed to half walk, half drag her down the gravel road to our house, laughing under our heavy breath all the while. 

 

Kevin had to go into a plastic surgeon a few days later for a partial amputation, which was no laughing matter. It's been extremely painful for him. But he's already thinking of great stories to tell his grandchildren. No, he won't be able to practice throwing a football with Patrick Mahomes anymore. He won't be able to play a guitar on stage with a variety of famous musicians either. And he won't be able to get a decent manicure with me--something he probably wouldn't have done anyway. These are things he will tell his grandchildren someday.

 

And something tells me that the someday we won't have to be wrestling goats anymore might come sooner than we all would have thought. In the meanwhile, this wife is hoping her husband will heal before the next situation arises.

 

She's hoping we will all heal before then.

 

She's also hoping, though he won't be able to throw a football like he once did, or even like Mahomes, her husband will still be able to continue to laugh in spite of it all.

 

 

 

 

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