Thursday, October 18, 2007

In which I acquire a morbidly obese goat who steals food and escapes constantly, but means no harm.

One of the first things I read about donkeys: being herd animals, they get lonesome without friends. The possible "friends" listed all sounded like just as much trouble as a donkey.

With the exception of chickens. Chickens sounded feasible.

So I got these chickens to be friends with the donkey I didn't yet have.

Then I got these chickens kind of by accident. They are now much bigger and look like moulting vultures, I'll have to post a new picture. They've graduated to being outside birds and I stuff them in the coop with the big hens every night. No blood has been shed.

Well, the gentleman farmer mocked my idea of providing chickens to be my donkey's pets, he said I needed a goat.

I didn't want a goat. Goats are too smart, I said, and they escape all the time. I want something stupid. Maybe a sheep would be stupid enough.

He kept after me. When my son Zed and I went out to visit (Zed was interviewing him for a paper), he made this proposal: "Take a goat, for free, for a month. If you don't like her you can bring her back or put her in your freezer. She won't escape, they never escape."

When we came back from lunch, all his goats had escaped. After about half an hour of walking/driving around he found them at the neighbor's house.

Nevertheless, because Zed was very keen on the plan I said thank you when the gentleman farmer hauled a goat box out of his shed, put it in the back of my van, and selected for us this portly creature, whom Zed named Dulcinea. It took all three of us to heave her up into the box.

She's amazingly fat (I couldn't capture the true essence of her corpulence with my camera); however, the gentleman farmer has goats that are much fatter. One had watermelon-sized outriggers of lard bouncing up and down on each side as she ran towards the food bowl. How could she be running? Why hasn't she had a heart attack? No, none of them are pregnant, he insists, unless by immaculate conception.

We got Dulcinea home and within an hour she made her first escape. She is unfazed by electricity and just walks through the electric fence seen below. When it jolts her, her hide twitches, but no matter - she's out.

I've also seen her get down on her knees and ooze through a hole not much bigger than her head. All that fat is very pliable. A goat is actually much like an octopus in this regard.

Three times that first afternoon I caught her by the horns and hauled her - me leaning back, heels dug in, heaving backwards with all my strength, she resisting, all four hooves dug into the ground to prevent forward motion, four hooves against two sneakers, no fair - back into the correct part of the pasture. Then I was tired. I just gave up.

She likes to hang out near the chicken coop, there are leftover morsels of cracked corn in the grass there. Corn kernels are like chocolate eclairs for both Jethro and Dulcinea.

Speaking of Jethro, I'm gradually understanding him better. He is very highly strung. In the donkey way, his reaction to being in a nervous frenzy is to stand totally still (as in this picture).

Lots of things frighten him. Sadly, his nice shed frightens him. I can get him in it if I hold up an apple, but he snatches the apple and leaves immediately.

He doesn't like commotion. When it's quiet and peaceful, he is very affectionate.

Among things he's afraid of: this fine vehicle, a cart for pulling a bucket around the field when forking up poop (oddly, I enjoy this activity). It absolutely terrifies him.

He better get less nervous so I can implement my ultimate plan of sitting in a cart and saying giddyup and having him trot nicely down to the grocery store.

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At 6:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That proves the theory of evolution!The Donkey evolved from the octopus,didn't it? The whole thing about crawling out of the sea to eat corn around the coup. What a visionary!! BV

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous susanlynn said...

And so your livestock adventure continues. Having been raised on a farm with steer, pigs, chickens, guinea hens, cats, and dogs, I have no desire for any pets. After taking care of children and elderly parents and babysitting my daughter's 2 dogs, I'm just happy trying to take care of myself and hub. As for Jethro, I do the same thing he does when I find myself in the throes of a nervous frenzy...I stand completely still. So far, this strategy hasn't worked well for me. How is it working out for Jethro??? So, are you keeping the escape artist/goat ??? Is Jethro bonding with her??? Has she remained in the pen long enough for him to bond with her??? Bueno suarte, mi amiga. P.S. If you are feeling a little downhearted , try muttering ''PIRATES'' to yourself and passing strangers as I have been doing lately.

At 9:13 AM, Anonymous sylvia said...

I am so enjoying these posts about Jethro and now Dulcinea. Your world seems far removed from my crazed silicon valley lifestyle. Actually I'm not that crazed, it just feels like it when I read about donkeys, chickens and goats.

At 1:12 PM, Blogger Alma said...

Agreed... definitely more exciting than sitting behind a desk all day.

Melinama, my 5 year-old periodically asks me to show him the donkey pictures on your blog. He thinks they are cute and likes to assign Jethro a new name in each pic.


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