I came home one day to fifty goats on the hill behind my house. It was an exciting day.
Let me back up.
Last year, in the name of fire safety, we received an email about the possibility of goats being hired to clean up the brush on the hillside behind our condo. Having experienced these “rent-a-goats” before while they ate their way across a hill by our favorite hiking trail, we decided that yes, indeed, this would be nice to have as entertainment in our back yard. However, due to some “over booking”, we soon learned that the goats would not be gracing us with their presence.
When all was thought lost, and the goats were a mere speck in our memories of crazy ideas past, we received an email from the condo management company eight months later with the subject: “The goats are coming”. It became the topic of our dinner conversations for a few nights, what kind of goats would come? We wondered. How many would be there? Do they stay the night? Will they be loud? Anxiously, on the purported Monday of the goats’ arrival, we waited.
And waited some more. Disappointed, I sat down to work for the day at my desk* and Peter left for the office**. Later that evening, we received an email: “Goat delay”. It read:
We have just been notified that the goats are eating more slowly than anticipated. They are still finishing another job.
Now, I realize that this might not seem comical with all the lead up to my goat story, but imagine all of the mundane emails you receive in a day, and contrast it to one about goat eating habits. Maybe it’s the fact that neither of us comes from a farming background, or perhaps these goats came into our lives at a particularly boring moment, but we found ourselves highly entertained. After all, there had been a buildup of anticipation for the ultimate arrival of these kids, nannies, and billies.
Finally, one morning shortly after the “goat delay” email, I turned onto our street and saw them.
There were so many! Big ones, small ones, some with beards. They “baaaaaa”-ed their way across the hillside. They were accompanied by what looked like a big golden retriever, but was in fact a Pyrenean Mountain Dog (I asked the goat man…goat herder? Man with the goats?).
The goats were worth the wait. Somehow, they became our sole source of entertainment in the evenings. They would climb trees, and cleverly climb in very acrobatic ways, plus, the little ones were cute. We gave them names, and picked out our favorites. When after three days I had become accustomed to their rustling, they were gone, their job complete, and the herbage eaten.
Now, while working at my desk, I look up and see a brown wasteland. Our patio furniture is dusty, and occasionally I will hear a group of pebbles tumbling down the hillside.
These small rockslides make me think of two things:
1) The potential for erosions and mudslides during rainy season (scary thought), and
2) How much fun it was to have the goats around (happier thought).
Neighbors have complained that in the wake of the goats, the land looks barren and ugly, and even if they are right, I cannot bring myself to complain. Every now and then it’s fun to mix things up, even if that comes in the form of fifty goats eating the backyard greenery. After all, they did it in the name of fire safety.
*The kitchen table