After 16 years of living in our house, this past Sunday, we’ve officially become part of the neighborhood… and how exciting a milestone is that? When I say the neighborhood, of course, I don’t mean a neighborhood where the houses sit right next to each other. Our closest neighbors are about ½ mile away. I mean the ten or so square mile area where everyone seems to know each other. It’s funny how people who live in a rural community still call it a neighborhood. I don’t know how else you’d describe it, though, so I guess I don’t blame them.
So how, you ask, did we officially become part of our neighborhood?
Well the answer is simple of course… you officially become part of the neighborhood when you have a farm animal… in our case, goats… discovered wandering far from your home, and through a phone-chain, the neighbors are able to figure out who the farm animal… in our case, goats… belongs to. Yes, you heard it hear first… Naughty and Heath the now world-famous Brown Road Goats in Coats, who had not once, in five months of living with us, ever left the property, roamed away and were discovered about three miles away by a nice lady who was able to round them up, lock them in her fenced pasture, and wait until their delinquent owners came to retrieve them. Being concerned country folk, she asked her husband to start making phone calls and after several links in the phone chain it was determined that they belonged to us.
This particular Sunday was one of those lazy days when not a lot was accomplished around our house. About 5:00 p.m. after having already taken one nap during the day, I went upstairs to lie down in our room. My son was in our bed watching a movie and I figured I’d just relax there with him. Just as I was falling asleep for nap #2, my wife comes running upstairs and says “we have to go get the goats, a couple of neighbors just stopped by and they are over at a farm on the corner of Buckhorn and Cotherman Lake roads.” “What?” I replied, “how in the hell can they be all the way over there?”
We got in our van, drove over to this farm and saw Naughty and Heath grazing in one of their fields. We parked along the side of the road, got out and the moment they recognized us, they started bleating like crazy and running towards us. Yes, apparently goats are quite smart and can recognize their owners. I suspect they were saying something like “oh, thank god you guys found us, we got lost and we couldn’t find our way back home and we thought we were going the right direction but we just kept getting more lost and then there were cars flying by us and then this lady came out of her house and locked us in this fenced area and we thought we were going to have to move again.” A frightening moment in the life of a goat for sure! We threw them in the back of the van, drove up to the beautiful old farm house on the property, knocked on the door and a very nice, sixty-ish woman answered. We thanked her for rescuing our goats, chatted for a few minutes, then left and drove back home.
That’s the nice thing about living where we do… people are friendly and look out for each other. If we had been living in say, Chicago and our goats had roamed away from our apartment building, perhaps gotten on a subway, or started walking down Lake Shore Drive… boy, I hesitate to think what might have happened to them! Surely we would never have seen or heard from them again… and that would have been a sad day. But no, we live in a place where farm animals can roam away and neighborly folks will figure out who they belong to and how to get them back home. We have not been able to determine how exactly they were able to walk that far away. Our initial theory is that they got through a small opening in the fencing that lines the back side of our property, and not being able to figure out how to get back in they continued to roam in the opposite direction. One of our neighbors suspects maybe they followed a guy that was jogging in the area, and once they got far enough away they could no longer find their way back. Since our goats don’t speak, I guess we’ll never know.
In any case, we are happy our goats were found and safely retrieved and all is well again in the neighborhood. The shiny new I.D. tags for their collars are on the way!