Saturday, 19 October 2013

Don't take the goat

I came hurtling around the laundry door about to launch into a fascinating story about who I had just bumped into down town when I realised Craig was on the phone.

“I just don’t think so”.


“Uh um, yes I understand”


Always the eternal sticky beak I was ease dropping, his tone was much more serious than usual, he was really concentrating and I could not figure out who he was talking to or what they were discussing.  After a long pause he says “Ok then, we will see how it goes, bring her out this afternoon”.

After he hangs up the phone my very practical and very kind husband turned to me and said “Fr Scott is bringing out the goat this afternoon.  She has destroyed their backyard and he isn’t allowed to keep her”.  Without taking a breath he continued “Council have already been around to say it is prohibited to keep a goat in town.  He has nowhere else to take her, we will just put a pen down in the paddock, and it will be fine.  Templeton and the goat might even become friends.”

I gently reminded him “I thought you told me, when we saw the very cute baby goat at the Bazaar, in no uncertain terms Don’t Take The Goat, it will destroy everything”.

“Yeah I know” he said, turning to head outside, he mumbled on his way past “It will be fine, I will make sure she can’t get out of her pen”.  The gauze door closed and he was off  to plan what to do with the goat.  I know he didn’t really want the goat either, but when it comes to animals he is a softy, he befriends them, talks to them and they are extremely loyal to him in return.

After lunch we headed to the paddock to goat proof the pen we had been using for our poddy calf.  It was hot, hard work but we were proud of it, it looked like a fort, completely impenetrable.  Not long after we had finished a young, enthusiastic, kind of ugly goat arrived.  She was not a cute baby goat anymore, with big floppy ears but rather she had long skinny legs, a fat tummy, crazy eyes on either side of her head and a kind of speckled black, grey shaggy coat and two stumpy little horns starting to grow out of her head.

Not to be deterred we introduced her to the pen and Templeton, the poddy calf, who she was suppose to become friends with.  After trying to head butt the calf repeatedly with her tiny little horns she went exploring, and right there in front of us she jumped up and over the pen we had worked so hard to build!  Here began a long and repetitive pattern of Goatie escaping from the pen, Craig adding more wire and mesh to try and keep her in and everybody shouting ‘That bloody goat’.

Every time she escaped she would head straight up to the house.  She had spent the first few months of her life in a residential backyard, with two other dogs, four children and some chickens, she was absolutely domesticated  and thought she belonged up at the ‘main house’ and was an integral member of the family.  We had a very different idea, we wanted to fatten her up quickly and eat her as soon as possible.

We did try to be loving custodians of the goat, we would go down early in the morning and cut new tree limbs for her to munch on, we would let her out so she could run around the paddock and stretch her legs.  Each time she would do a couple of crazy tricks, running really fast, then jumping up in the air ducking and weaving her head.  We thought it was hilarious, we would start to relax and enjoy the fun but next minute she would do a mad dash back towards the house and eat the new growth of all newly planted jacarandas, rip the newly laid turf out at the roots, jump on the beautiful timber outdoor setting and cause mayhem and destruction.  We would then chase after her shouting “That bloody goat”.

After a week or two we would forget these incidents and we would let Goatie out again.  On one occasion we thought it would be brilliant to include Goatie in one of Sage’s eKindy web lessons.  We went and dragged big branches onto the deck, laid down some blue fabric for the creek, got big rocks, it looked beautiful, and then we added Goatie.  Well only about 30 seconds into the web lesson with the Brisbane based kindy teacher Goatie jumped onto the table and head butted the computer, scaring the life out of the teacher, Sage cried because Goatie was ruining everything and I tried, in vein, to regather and make the session work.  Eventually we gave up, I mumbled “That bloody goat” under my breath and dragged her back to the pen. Goatie thought the venture had been a great success, she couldn’t understand why everybody else wasn’t happy.

So finally, Craig had perfected the pen and Goatie was securely restrained then a friend who is a Vet popped in to visit, she suggested the goat probably had worms and would need to be wormed and have her pen relocated to a different part of the paddock.  Well this did lead to a number of expletives being expressed but we did it, we moved the 10 very heavy steel panels and all the wire and mesh down under a beautiful shady tree.  It took weeks to secure it because Goatie got out every time we turned our backs.  On New Year’s Eve we had all just gone to bed at about 1am, we had friends camping out on the deck, at about 3am we heard a loud shout of “The bloody goat is trying to eat our tent”.  By the light of the full moon only 3 hours into the new year I could see her out there chomping on the leaves of our house yard trees, the pen was too far away so I chained her up in the shed, next to a huge tuft of grass, where she ‘bleated’ all morning until the sun came up.  So on New Year’s morning we all rose from our beds saying ‘that bloody goat’.

Eventually we gave in to Goatie’s demands, we built a pen in our backyard so she could see us and talk to us all the time.  This made her so happy, plus we could feed her extra food much more regularly so she got too fat to escape from her pen.  All was good, but we did want to reclaim the back part of our yard, so the time came to ring the abattoir and enquire and the humane slaughter of the goat.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, the girls and I were out and Craig came home from work to take her to the abattoir.  It was such a difficult occasion, we thought we hated that goat but we were sad.  She had worked her way into our hearts and we had developed a relationship with her, that was not supposed to happen.  It was not made any easier when the slaughterer said to Craig “Is this your pet mate?” as Goatie looked up at Craig and bleated pleadingly to be taken home again.

On Friday 18th October Goatie was lovingly marinated using a traditional Ugandan recipe and she was  BBQed on Saturday, when 45 of us gathered in the name of fellowship and fun to taste the  bloody goat and she was delicious.  It was an afternoon filled with laughter, singing, love and joy, it was a memorable event that people will talk about for years to come.  In the end Goatie bought us all a huge amount of joy and we are so eternally grateful that we did take the goat.
At the end of the feast Fr Scott said "Today at the Farmer's Markets I saw turkey chicks ... anybody keen"!!

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