Close the Gate. Close the GATE! Close the *#$#*&(% GATE!!!!!

I’ve gotten the request by comment, email, and phone call: “You’ve got to tell us the story behind that post it.”

Sigh.  It’s so hard to explain, so hard to re-live.  But I’ll try.

The heat index that week stayed at 107 degrees.  It was the kind of week that, in a big city, would result in smog alerts, cancellation of outdoor events, and endless whining about the trek across the asphalt from air-conditioned car to air-conditioned job.  Well, we have an air-conditioned home (that we can afford, thanks to our geothermal system), but the work was outside and it couldn’t be put off any longer:  we had to sort the goats.

Specifically, we needed to sort the pregnant does from the rest and move them to a separate pasture.  The barn sits at the intersection of three pastures and a series of gates  and temporary fencing permits us to reconfigure as necessary in order to move from one area to another.  We gather the herd into a sorting pen and then push them through the chute into the handling equipment, which opens to the left or right into separate destinations.

Doesn’t that sound efficient and easy?

Problem:  goats are clever, suspicious, sneaky, and resistant to the notion of confinement.  Imagine trying to herd cats and you get the picture.

We headed out early, while it was still “only” in the high eighties.  We were all determined to hang onto our tempers, use good communication skills, and get this over with as quickly and calmly as possible.  For the most part we succeeded, and we left the sorting pen with a sense of relief.  We weren’t just sweaty, we were soaked through our shirts, our pants, even our socks.

And then it happened:  the Studmuffin turned the corner around the barn and let out a cry of anguish in a strangled voice: “Who….who let the…..who left the…………………….the *$%&*()(#%  GATE is OPEN!!!!”

The goats, drawn to an open gate as naturally and as swiftly as a shark to blood in the water, had resorted themselves into a single herd on the far side of the barn.  I don’t know how to describe that grinding sense of frustration, that inability to think of a word bad enough, the lack of anything at hand to throw far enough, the desire to just stick your head in a bucket of water, knowing that all of this is just a waste of time because there’s only one solution:  to do it all over again.  Only hotter and with even more suspicious and resistant goats.

We get no sympathy from the neighbors, of course.  This is what you do when you have animals.  Every day.  Hence the Force Majeure Farm motto:  Losing our minds one animal at a time.

To date, no one has yet admitted responsibility for the gate.  Further examination of the crime scene revealed that the chain latch may have been loose enough for curious noses to gain advantage.  The gate has a new, goat-proof latch.


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