We have been kidding for ten years now (no, we are not going around telling
jokes). It seems to me, every couple of years you always get a group of
"special" kids. I donít mean that they are mentally handicapped, but that would
explain a lot of things. It just seems they have no fears, unless itís the one about
being called late to supper.
When we started out with goats we had one small lone building on a ridge. This
building was set on several big rocks for a foundation and the building was
pretty well open underneath. We started adding on to this building various run-in
sheds, following the slope of the hill. You know, a Frank Lloyd Wright type of
thing of blending in with the surrounding country, leaving the landscape as it is.
In other words, we didnít have the money to bulldoze off the top of the hill.
You walked up and down the hill in our sheds, you just happened to have a roof
over your head to protect you from rain.
Anyway, we had no problems with this arrangement until one year a crop of
kids discovered they could go under the original building. Why this hadnít
occurred to previous kid crops, I donít know. But, this group discovered it. Not
only did they discover it, but they got lost under the building. How they could
get lost with so many sides opened that they could just walk back out, I donít
know. A couple of times a day several kids would run under the building, get
scared in the dark, and just stand there and scream for help.
Mothers would come running, calling frantically, getting down on their knees
and call to their lost child, peeking under the building. The kids would stay put
in the dark and scream, "Ma! Ma! Come get me!" Most the does were too big
to go in and save their children. A few tried and got wedged part way under the
We would come out and crawl underneath and first get the wedged doe out and
then crawl around under the building to get the kids.
And it never failed. Us crawling around in that manner towards them always
spooked them to the other side of the building. It never occurred to them to
simply run on out from under the building. They stayed under the building,
running from corner to corner as we tried to reach them. Eventually, weíd get
them cornered and drag them out kicking and screaming to the world that there
were indeed monsters under that building. Since our area has copperhead
snakes, it was always a thrill for us to go under that building.
These kids never learned. The same ones would be "trapped" under the building
the next day. Or, better yet, a few of the ones who had been trapped yesterday
brought some new ones to experience the underside of the building.
We kept hoping they would learn, but they didnít. We finally got smart and
started blocking three sides, limiting the many ways in, in the hope that they
would eventually learn that it could be a nice cool place to lay under in the
summer heat. We couldnít block it entirely off because it would indeed become
a haven for rats and snakes. Yep, it only made it darker and the kids got lost
more. So much for that idea.
A couple of years later was the "Broken Leg" year. We have clay soil on our
hillsides. Usually under the clay are several underground springs. Get a little rain
and one day you have a hillside and the next day you have that hillside sitting
down in the valley. Slides are very common in the area. The clay can start
sliding a little and then you hear tall trees falling left and right on your place.
Many times this clay will slide off and leave exposed tree roots on very steep
hills. These roots will weave in and out of the clay, sometimes sticking out a
couple of inches from the clay soil before they bury themselves deeper into the
hill. Naturally, these would be the hills the kids would choose to play on.
Play, nothing. They usually came screaming down off those hills at super speed,
not a bit afraid of how to stop, leaping exposed tree roots in a single bound, or
not. I would find a kid or two with broke legs hobbling at the base of the hill
trying to keep up to go back up the hill to try the kamikaze thing again. Our
small animal vet got really tired of seeing us and having to set kidsí legs. Since
these hills and exposed tree roots were everywhere, you fenced off one area and
there were always several more to take their place.
Itís been 5 years since the "Broken Leg" year and I hope to never have another
year like that again. Then, there was the "Bucket" year. We carry and use these
big white bakery buckets everywhere. They are just handiest things, good for
watering, carrying feed, carrying fencing tools, etc.
Maybe weíll leave a bucket or two in a pen for water or just plain olí forget
about it and walk off and leave it. One day I saw a shocking sight. The main
herd was in a turmoil. They were running hysterically from place to place, some
were even hollering in fear. Bells on the collars were jangling so loud you
couldnít hear yourself think.
Then I saw what was spooking them. A kid with a big white bucket stuck on his
head. He must have put his head in the empty bucket lifted his head up and the
bucket came with it. All he would have had to do was lower his head and the
bucket would have dropped off.
But, soon as those does saw that kid with the bucket on his head, running
around in circles hollering, they took off. No one claimed that child. And, he
could hear those bells on the collars and knew what direction to run with them.
Everyone was about to drop from fright by the time I got out there and snatched
that bucket from the kidís head as he ran by.
Another day I heard the herd in a frenzy again. Ran out and saw a peg legged
kid run by, chasing the herd, trying to keep up with a big white bucket on one
front leg. He must have stuck his head in the empty bucket, picked the bucket
up, lowered his head enough for the bucket to fall off, but the handle dropped
down over his neck and withers. This caused him to jump forwards and a front
leg must have went into the bucket, trapping it. He could run really fast with his
bucket peg leg. He got the herd cornered and they all faced him, heads up, ears
forward, nostrils flared, tails screwed so tight over their backs that they would
never straighten right again.
He stopped and stared at them like, "You looking at me?" And, thatís when I
nailed him and got the bucket off his "bum" leg. We were very cautious for a
year or two to not leave any type of bucket anywhere near the kids in an open
Last year we weaned a bunch of doe kids in a large run-in shed. I left a tall
white bucket in the corner for me to turn upside down and sit on to visit with
the girls. I love tame goats. One morning I came down the hill and looked in the
shed and saw a doe walking around with a bucket over her head.
Oh, no! She then lowered her head and dropped the bucket off, cool as a
cucumber. She looked at it with interest, stuck her head in it again and picked
the bucket up with it covering her head and proudly walked around with it,
bumping into other kids and walls. The kids didnít pay any attention to her.
When she was through, another kid walked over and did the same thing. They
were having so much fun with that bucket that I left it in their pen, but took the
handle off. I had always wondered why I found the bucket in different spots
each day in that run-in shed. Mystery solved.
I keep wondering what year this will be for my kids. Another Bucket-head year?
Another Lost Under the Building and Canít Get Out year? Or, something
entirely different that it will make me look fondly back on the Broken Leg year
as easy times. I shudder to think.