Mabel’s blue ribbon performance


Awhile back, I told the story of my little goat named Mabel, so filled with bluster and self-assurance that she seems to think she is not a goat at all.

She is definitely not the fainting goat we were assured she would be.

As it turns out, the longer we have Mabel, the more I realize it is simply a case of job description misunderstanding.

When Mabel arrived in the world, she understood her job to be a twist on what the rest of her pack grasped with gusto.

Instead of fainting when startled, Mabel thought her sole existence was to show up in such strange places that she nearly makes every human faint dead away.

One little example involves a very long, complicated day of moving sheep from one farm to another, then moving various parts of the flock to different pastures and pens.

As Doug was finishing up with the livestock trailer, all the animals tucked in where they were meant to be, he parked on the slope very close to the barn, opened the back of the trailer and began the cleaning process.

As he turned to spray toward the open end of the trailer, up pops a head so quickly he wasn’t sure what he was seeing, but he felt that flash of dread that he must have failed to secure one of the pasture gates.

He quickly stopped the clean-up job and rushed outside with that awful gut-dropping feeling of not knowing just how bad the situation might be.

Nope, there was no sign of any livestock on the loose. Doug felt sure his eyes must have been playing tricks on him.

The sheep were settled into the various pastures, others inside the barn, with Mabel the goat peeking over the nearby barnyard board fence at him.

Back in the trailer, the hosing and sweeping continued. As he turned his back to close one of the livestock partitions, he felt a nudge against his back pocket and nearly fainted with surprise.

“Whatcha doin?” Mabel the little goat seemed to inquire.

Her eyes met Doug’s and there just might have been an exchange that would need some filtering for this space.

When I heard the complaint being filed against the innocent Miss Mabel, I asked how she got out, thinking the human in this story certainly played a part.

“I don’t know how in the heck she got out. She’s YOUR goat, why don’t you ask her?” my husband said with a tinge of blue in the air surrounding him.

A couple of days later, I was pulling some weeds, my mind wandering as I enjoyed the quiet of the morning.

As I worked my way around the bend of a white fence, I reached my hand under it to grab a tubular weed with all the strength I could muster.

Something warm and very much alive pushed against my hand, and I nearly passed out in horror.

As I gathered the courage to look, I came eye-to-eye with an unexpected creature through that fence, its complete calm curiosity the extreme opposite of my cartoonish eyes-bugging-out shock.

I screamed so loud the furry monster ran away as fast as her stiff little legs would carry her.

Mabel strikes again!

It was then I saw exactly how this pet goat accomplishes her freedom. She did a quick little tuck and roll, nudging her way under the sturdy board fence just outside the barn.

Mabel popped her head back up, looking at me from the proper side of the fence, looking as innocent as a garden flower.

My heart rate began to subside and I couldn’t help but laugh at the crazy exchange that had just played out.

This morning, our daughter-in-law walked into our kitchen and said, “Did you know you have a goat lying in the driveway? It popped up right in front of me and nearly scared me to death!”

Yes, that is apparently Mabel’s job. If she could speak, she would surely let us know she is performing her assignment right up there in the blue ribbon category.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.



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