Living in tornado alley means planning ahead for the unthinkable, and while Iím not all that big on the "doing"
aspect of planning, I find endless planning to be a good cure for boredom. Countless hours have been spent,
perhaps wasted, dreaming up worst case scenarios whereby I find myself stuck underground for longer than it
takes to retrieve my flashlight and camping gear. As a result, my underground shelter is better stocked than a
Montana freemanís pantry. Warm clothes, folding chairs, cots, flashlights, and even a dart board await for those
times when that alarm goes off in the middle of the night.
It wasnít until the weather man uped the ante from tornado "watch" to "warning" one day last year that I
realized my extensive planning had neglected one not so tiny detail; how to get 250 pounds of full grown Boer
goat down the steep steps into the cellar during a hail storm while 80 mph winds threaten to rip the cellar door
off of itís hinges. I quickly learned that goats dislike going into dark places, particularly when those places
require them to go underground. The fact that it was raining and hail the size of canteloupes was pelting them in
the backside did nothing to encourage them down the steps.
The first time this happened, I simply gave up, relinquishing the squalling buck to the mercies of the storm while I
fled to the safety of my dry shelter. The next hour was spent wondering if I should have just lit the money on
fire, instead of blowing it on an animal so hare brained that it preferred to stay out in a storm rather than descend
a paltry 10 steps. Luckily the predicted tornado settled for tearing up some fences 30 miles south, and the
contrary goat was spared.
The second time it happened, I wised up. The bucks were on their own, I announced, but the babies were
coming with me. Unfortunately, the best ones are always the ones who delight in staying just out of armís reach.
Itís the bar-b-q kids who practically fling themselves into your arms, and so they were the ones who wound up
safe in the shelter. My roommate was somewhat confused as to why I snatched up $35 kids and left the
fullblood show kids behind. "You havenít even paid off that new hayburner, and you left him behind for these
two??" she snorted, staring at the pair as they danced atop her catís carrier. Her disagreeable cat put it's two
cents in as well, hissing and spitting at both me and the baby goats. Realizing she was right, I ran back out into
the storm to retrieve something a little more impressive, and returned with a pair of ..... oops, more bar-b-q kids.
That was last year though. This year Iíve become much more clever. A few days of careful planning, and a
bucket full of feed later, I had the best of the bunch trained to where they would run down the stairs all by
themselves. I was quite proud of myself, until my roommate came to see what I was smirking about. "Why do
you have the cellar full of goats?" she demanded as she peered down the stairs to see her catís carrier
collapsing beneath the weight of a buck. "I'm teaching them to go into the cellar for the next time we have a
tornado warning," I smugly informed her. As usual, my genius went unnoticed. "Krista, theyíre ruining
everything, are you crazy? That nasty stinking buck is down there!" she shrieked as she caught site of my buck
trampling her chair. I tried to explain that the next time a tornado warning was issued, all Iíd have to do would be
to open the cellar door, and the best goats would go right on in without a fight, but she wasnít having any of it.
"Why canít they just stay outside like NORMAL animals?" I tried to explain these werenít normal animals (like
her expendable cat) but she didnít wait for me to finish before throwing out yet another left field reason for
leaving the goats outdoors. "What about our neighbors who come to use it? Where will they sit with fifteen goats
down there??" I shrugged, at a loss for words since I liked my goats much more than I liked my neighbors. She
rolled her eyes and shook her head, her hand held up as if to ward off something contagious. "I donít even want
to hear what lame brained excuse youíve got cooked up in that crackpot head of yours. The goats do NOT
belong in the storm cellar. Thatís for people." She glared hard at me to make sure I was paying attention, and
then stomped off.
Iíll have to remind her of that the next time that alarm sounds and I catch her trying to bring her cat along.