“If you’re short of trouble, take a goat.”~ Finnish saying
When one gets old, the slightest little thing can send one’s mind spinning down memory lane. This morning I watched at a little video of my nephew Christopher’s sons at a petting zoo. They had accidentally let one of the little goats out of its pen, and the boys and their dad were trying to coax it back in. It was funny and sent my memory whirling to a time when my daughter, Shannon, (age 4 at the time) and I had a goat experience of our own.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. I had just recently received the Lord-that made it the best of times. But I was struggling financially, following a divorce. Things were so tight; the best I could afford for us was a little cabin back off the road in Olivehurst, California. The rent was $50 per month including utilities, and I still had a hard time making it!
I worked in Sacramento, which was an hour’s commute, so I was gone from our little shack a long time each day. I started having a problem with my neighbors breaking into my cabin while I was gone. I was broken into seven times, in a two-month period, but did not have the money to move. I had almost everything stolen, including my daughter’s toys, clothes, iron and ironing board, and even the meat out of my freezer. I remember my mother coming to visit and her remarking to me, “Chere, you have no earthly goods!”
One hot summer day, I came home to find my door wide open. As I drove up, I was shocked to see two big horned Billy goats munching on my couch in the living room. Leaving my daughter in the car, I jumped out and grabbed a two-by-four lying on the ground. I started yelling at them and hitting the side of the house with the board, hoping to scare them out. They were not even fazed; as a matter of fact, they simply looked at me as if to say, “What are you doing here?” The only one that seemed to be scared was me. Their big horns were very frightening to me. Shannon started laughing, and I kept on yelling and crying.
It was “hot as a Billy goat in a pepper patch,” as the old Texas saying goes. I was tired, frustrated and scared, and just when I had reached the apex of my hysteria; I looked up and observed a Mexican man with a piece of garden hose in his hand moseying towards my cabin. As he reached the door of my house, he yelled something in Spanish to the goats and waved the hose and out they flew. The Mexican man gave me an apologetic look and nod. As the goats wandered past me, they paused to stare with vacant brown eyes, bleated sneeringly, and then they and their master moved on back over to their property behind my cabin.
I learned a few things about goats that day. All goats are mischievous thieves, gatecrashers, and trespassers. It was OK to be afraid for Edgar Watson Howe said, “One has fear in front of a goat, in back of a mule, and on every side of a fool.” Goats will eat just about anything-including couches. That is why an Italian proverb states, “No one ever saw a goat dead of hunger.” But most important, I learned that one must speak in a language that goats understand, if you are to get their cooperation. An Indonesian proverb says, “If you enter a goat stable, bleat; if you enter a water buffalo stable, bellow.” I would like to add, if your goats speak Spanish, then bleat in Spanish and carry a big hose.