Often enough someone will ask me, with a straight face, how I can come up with the material to write a column each and every week? Honestly, the greater question is: How could I not?
Roundup. Take the great goat roundup. To set the scene we must imagine a dreary, gray morning complete with a steady downpour of icy rain.
Having not yet ingested my body weight in coffee, I am first able to block out completely the cries of my 6-year-old screaming that his goat – one of two given as gifts from a mother-in-law who I would’ve SWORN liked me up until she decided livestock made a lovely birthday present – has flown the coop.
Or jumped the fence as the case may be.
Let me clarify that these are my husband’s goats, and, by association, the goats of my precious offspring. These are by no means any goats of mine.
(I have had to remind my husband throughout our marriage that while I enjoy rural residency, he didn’t marry Ma Ingalls or any one of the Walton girls, and needs to face this sad oversight on his part head on).
Yet, while I am callous enough to admit that I would be, at most, willing to sing a few rounds of Born Free as the goat trots off into the sunset, my son was near tears at the notion that the goat (fondly referred to as that d@#%# goat out of the earshot of impressionable children) might be lost forever.
Which we all know wasn’t likely to happen. I couldn’t get that lucky.
Nonetheless, my son I do adore, and thus the facts were clear. I had to get his goat.
False. Let me assure you that contrary to the scandalous array of false advertising purveyed by the Disney Corporation, Charlotte’s Web, and that movie about the friendly pig Babe, animals are rude.
I crept, I called, I cajoled, and, in desperation – I bellowed.
Who could know that yelling “you stupid goat!” and stomping your feet does not lead the animal to want to saunter up next to you?
Nor did any of my other attempts – including my standing stock-still clutching a branch and, I kid you not, posing as a tree – have the desired effect of putting the goat anywhere near my reach.
Although we did enjoy more than one memorable moment where I lunged to grab the goat and missed. Fortunately, there were ample mud puddles to break my fall.
Throughout the roundup, my husband had the good fortune to be safely at work.
I am nothing if not committed to equal opportunities in parenting, however, and I called him – repeatedly – to apprise him of my goat wrangling success, or lack thereof.
Granted, he alleges that this was more me screaming into the phone that if HE didn’t do SOMETHING with this d@#@$#$% goat, I was going to.
This was a ludicrously empty threat at best, and I can assure you that no animals were harmed in the making of this column.
It’s difficult to harm an animal if you can’t get within 100 paces of it your life depended on it. Only if looks really could kill was I going to have any ill effect on this goat.
This leaves me, the hapless heroine, soaked to the bone, mud-covered, and slippery and the sole savior of the hopes of two small children meandering about the back lawn crying for the goat (never mind Mommy’s pneumonia).
I was utterly ignored by the goat on the lam, clearly wishing only to be left alone to ingest my shrubs in peace.
Simple solution. Finally, trying valiantly to blame a bad cellular connection for what was clearly the sound of him choking back tears of laughter, my loving spouse advised that I simply lure the goat into the barn, Hansel and Gretel style, with grain.
The goat, having eaten his fill of our landscaping, about a pound of grain, and the sleeve of my sweatshirt, gave in.
Of course, three days later the goat escaped again and I, wiser and more skilled in the vagaries of goat wrangling, did what any responsible parent would do.
I bent down, looked deep into my child’s eye, and said – with utter sincerity: “Wait until your father gets home.”
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt asks that if you spot a small, brown goat wandering her neighborhood unattended, you adopt it. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)