Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Old Goat Is Missing

No, I'm not talking about the disappearance of Farmer H. I know where he is. At least I know his whereabouts, give or take 500 miles. He's visiting a friend in Iowa.

Farmer H always gets the wanderlust in July. Specifically, the first two weeks of July. That's because during his work career (as opposed to his laying around at home career), that's when he got vacation. He actually had to work during one of those weeks, depending on when the rest of the management personnel were in the office. He got other vacation time, which he liked to take around Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

While the rat's away Farmer H is traveling, I take on the chore of feeding the animals. We don't have many left these days. No herd of 11 goats, 36 chickens, three guineas, and a turkey. Nope. They've all gone to live on the big farm that is NOT-HERE. What we have left are a goat and a mini-pony, who are frenemies trapped within the same pasture.

I've fed them before. The goat, Billy (Farmer H's creative naming), has always been very forward. He'll stand up with his hooves on the top of the fence, looking you in the eye with his rectangular pupils, butting his head at your arm while you pour the scoop of sweet feed into his trough. Barry the mini-pony (already named when we got him), is more well-mannered, acting all aloof, but not afraid to kick up his heels if Billy invades his corner of the feeding area. Of course Barry has his own little trough, wired to the fence.

Farmer H usually feeds them in the morning, but they were lucky to eat at 11:40 on Wednesday, before I got ready to leave for town. No one was in sight when I stepped up to the pen, having survived Jack torpedoing my upper thigh as I walked across the yard. I hollered, "Doesn't anybody want to eat?" And Barry trotted up from the shady area behind the shed they have for shelter.

Barry made little horsie noises while I scooped his feed. That's because he's a little horse. I didn't see Billy, so I banged on the lid of the feed can with the scoop. No sign of him. He could have been anywhere in that pen. It goes way over behind the BARn, and partway down to the creek. It's not like you can see all corners of the pen, because over half of it is woods. I banged on the lid of the feed can again with the scoop. No sign of Billy.

I called Farmer H, who said to bang on the lid of the feed can with the scoop. "I did that. I'll try again. But what if he doesn't show up? If I leave his feed in his trough, won't Barry eat it? I don't want him to founder." That's what happens to horses if they eat too much all at once. Their hooves grow out like elf-shoe-feet, and they can hardly walk. I'm pretty sure other bad things happen to them, too, but I've only seen one foundered horse, and it's his feet I remember.

I wasn't so much worried about Barry eating Billy's scoop of I was about Billy being not-there. I didn't want to think that he had died of old age on my watch. And I most certainly wasn't going to dig him a grave, or build a funeral pyre. I didn't say as much to Farmer H, who couldn't be of any help, all the way across the state.

"He'll turn up. Barry probably won't bother Billy's trough. They fight over them, that's why I've got Barry's around the corner from Billy's. Put the food in there. It'll be okay."

So I banged on the lid of the food can with the scoop, and here came Billy barreling across the dusty dirt from the wooded area behind the BARn. I sent Farmer H a text so he wouldn't worry, and dumped Billy's scoop of food in his trough.

Crisis narrowly avoided.


Sioux Roslawski said...

That goat with the creepy pupils. He's the DEVIL! The DEVIL! The DEVIL!

River said...

I didn't know that about the foundering. I thought that only happened with neglected stock who didn't get their hooves trimmed regularly.

Hillbilly Mom said...

I think he has tickets to a hockey game. He might be making some face paint out of berries...

Well, if they're neglected enough to get into too much feed! The wild ones don't seem to have a problem with their hooves growing into elf feet shoes. I think hooves normally wear down, and just go out of control if the horses founder. Though I have not researched the subject.