The Country Life: The story of Christmas the goat

By Bill Radford Updated: December 24, 2013 at 9:37 am • Published: December 24, 2013 | 12:00 am 0

This is the story of how Christmas the goat got her name.

But to tell the story of Christmas the goat, I must first tell the story of Nana the goat.

That story began in spring 2012 with a text from my teenage daughter: "Baby goat abandoned at ranch. Needs help."

We were still living in the city at that time, while boarding our horse at the Powers Ranch just east of Peterson Air Force Base. A young goat had apparently been dumped there and was having a tough time, its ears chewed and shredded by dogs or other predators.

My wife, Margaret, and I were out of town. Worried about the goat's chances for survival, we told our daughter, Hope, to bring it home and we'd figure out what to do once we got back.

Hope tried to keep the goat in our backyard, but it yelled - quite loudly. Worried about bothering the neighbors, she brought it inside. And that's where we found it, lounging on the couch, when we got home.

The goat then was the size of a medium dog; one trait I noticed right off was that it seemed to constantly poop, pellets popping out like a popcorn popper. Not wanting a diaper-wearing, couch-potato goat, we took it outside again. And boy, did it holler. That night, I slept on a cot on the back deck to keep it company - and quiet.

So having a goat in the city wasn't going to work out. We took it back to the ranch, but also got it a pen, and we and others boarding horses at the ranch kept it watered, fed and safe. When we bought our place in the country in fall of last year, we brought the goat with us. By then, we had been determined it was a she and had named her Nana.

At our new place, Nana first lived in a fenced yard on the south side of the house, but spent most of her time trying to break into the house - apparently she had kept her taste for the comforts of indoor living. To protect what was left of our side door, we built her a pen in the pasture, complete with a Rubbermaid shed for shelter. But worried she would be lonely, we got her a companion goat from Black Forest Animal Sanctuary.

We adopted that goat, also a female, two days before Christmas. We knew little of her past other than that she, too, had been abandoned or had fled her home. She was not eager to go with us; it took a long time to corral her as she raced under fences and through our hands repeatedly. Once we finally caught her, she rode with Hope in the back seat of my PT Cruiser.

We got her home, introduced her to Nana. The sun was already falling and we were beat; we went inside.

A few hours later, under the cover of night, both goats escaped their pen. Our first indication of the great escape was when Nana showed up at the back door and peered in, a white, ghostly face in the blackness, like a goat Ghost of Christmas Past.

Nana was easy to catch; she, after all, would have been happy to come in and watch a little TV.

But the other goat had taken off. Margaret and I, alternately driving and walking, roamed the neighborhood in the blackness and bitter cold for hours. We could hear the goat's plaintive cries, but could never get in sight of her, let alone catch her. For some time, she seemed to be hanging out with a neighbor's horses in their corral, but we were afraid to enter for fear we would spook the horses - or the neighbor.

Numb from the cold, we finally gave up. Maybe she wouldn't go far. Maybe we would find her in the morning. Maybe the coyotes wouldn't get her.

Dispirited, we drove home. Good news, however, was awaiting us. For whatever reason - perhaps missing her new friend, Nana - the new goat had raced back across the countryside and had beaten us home. She had come to the pen and Hope had let her back in, then locked her and Nana back up.

We made sure everything was secure this time, then went inside to thaw out.

Her return, we decided, was a Christmas miracle.

And from that adventure, the goat got her name: Christmas.

-

Bill Radford and his wife live in the countryside east of Colorado Springs with a menagerie that also includes one horse, one mule, two dogs, two cats, a half-dozen chickens, two rabbits, two guinea pigs and two parrots Contact him: Twitter @bill radfordiii, gazettebillradford on Facebook. Follow his blog at blogs.gazette.com/thecountrylife.

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