FORKS IN THE ROAD
by Connie S. Reynolds
If you are literal minded the way I am, you are now picturing all these forked eating utensils lying on the road. But, what we are really talking about is the forks in the road of lifeís great divided highways. Where we can take a wrong turn or a right turn (thatís "correct turn" for the literal minded) that will affect the rest of our life, or at least for the next few minutes. Iíve noticed that goats have the same forks.
Sure, their divided highway of life is basically a dirt path going through the woods or fields. But, they have to make life decisions too. I was reminded of this the other evening. Lee and I were walking in the field petting and admiring the goats when we heard a goat call out. Now this isnít unusual, but this particular goat was still up in the barn lot, by herself, standing behind a tree.
Now, Dot is an independent goat, but usually she isnít far from the herd. And, she didnít act particularly distressed about anything. Her call was more like a, "Hey, you!" Lee and I studied her for a minute or two from the field and shrugged and walked on. Who can fathom the mind of a goat, we decided.
She called again and she was pointedly looking at us. Odd. But, she wasnít acting bothered about anything. Lee got involved with straightening out a bit of fence and Dot called out to us again. Curious, I started walking towards her and the barn lot. It took a few minutes to get there and she didnít call out anymore because she saw I was coming to her.
As I got closer, I saw her predicament. She had walked down the hill from the goat barn, following all these slender young goats. They had gone through two locust trees that grew close at the base but had spread out away from each other, a fork in the road. The decision had to made whether to go around or follow the slender young girls through. In Dotís mind eye, just like so many of the rest of us, she considered herself a slender young thing. Not the matronly easy keeper that she really was. She got stuck.
Since the footing was down hill, she could not easily back up to get out of the fork of the trees and her belly wouldnít let her go forwards. She wasnít uncomfortable, but she was definitely stuck.
I called to Lee to see this goatís predicament. We both laughed a while, which being a goat, Dot didnít mind at all. She just patiently waited for us to do something. She knew we always took care of her and this wasnít any different then any other time, she thought. Lee had to lift up her front end and walk her backwards through the trees and then put her front feet back on the ground again.
She made the right decision then and walked around the trees and happily trotted off to be with the herd, her belly bouncing and jiggling in happy freedom. And, Iím sure she was still considering herself still a slender young thing, those trees just happened to grow closer together in the night, thatís all.
Another doe had made an error in judgment along the same line last year. She had been a slender young thing until she was 4 and ĺ months pregnant. And, these two trees that grew close together, along a wooded path back to the barn, she had walked through since she was a kid. Only this time when she tried to walk through, she was stopped dead by her big pregnant belly.
She couldnít figure this out. She had always gone through here before and just a couple of months ago at that. What was the problem? She backed up and tried again. She was stopped again. Puzzled, she backed up and tried again. Nada, still didnít work. She backed up and tried again. She was like a little wind-up toy that bumps into something and just keeps bumping into it.
Lee watched her a while to see if she would give up and simply walk around the trees. She didnít. Lee finally had to go and get hold of her head and turn her neck around the tree for her to walk on and catch up with the herd. She might have still been bouncing back and forth if Lee hadnít been there.
So goats have those life decisions to make, forks in the road, like their human caretakers. Take for instance a couple of bucks weíve had over the years. One day they are peacefully getting along with everyone and the next they are chasing me around the chicken house. Their fork in the road was whether to allow me to walk on by, go in peace, or decide that I needed to be put in my place.
Like the old knight in Harrison Fordís movie, The Last Crusades, said, "He chose poorly." Each of those bucks that had chased me around the chicken house had chosen poorly. Originally they had been called "Precious", "Sweet Baby Boy", or "Mommaís Punkin", now they are being called, "Goat Burger," "Goat Chops", and "Goat Tenderloin."
Forks in the road happen to the very young too. I watched a young doe kid the other day study our creek. Itís a smallish creek, maybe 10 foot wide in spots, high banks in most places. The water is shallow in most areas, 5-6 inches deep, but in some areas three feet deep. The goats pick the shallow areas to cross and they usually leap from rock to rock. This little girl decided she was in a big hurry. She didnít have time to go find a shallow place to cross. Besides, she was also "Mighty Doe", the fastest doe kid alive.
I watched her from the top of the hill. This tiny little kid studying the creek from the bank at one of the deepest parts of the creek. Now if she would have backed up and had made a running leap out and over, she could have done it. But she stood there and did a flat-footed leap, straight up.
Of course she dropped like a rock straight down. I heard a lot of splashing as I just about broke my neck to get down the hill to save her. But, she came cannoning out of that creek like a bat out of you know what, wet and sputtering, acting like a trap had been set for her. She had chosen poorly.
So, if you are one of those people who have taken the wrong fork in the road, think of the goat. At least you arenít stuck between two trees.