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The case of the disappearing goats


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While my husband and I were away from home, just before Labor Day, our goats disappeared. The weather had been bad that week, so I assumed that a tree must have fallen on the fence, enabling the goats’ escape. Hans (my husband) visited the neighbors to see if anyone had been inundated with extra goats, while I walked the fence line. There were no downed trees, no breaks in the fence. It truly seemed as if the goats had been beamed up by an alien mothership. The only semi-rational explanation was that someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to steal our goats. And the only reason for that? Goat barbecue.

I’m a telepathic animal communicator. Hans kept asking why I didn’t just connect-in with Gregory, the goat patriarch, or Esmeralda, the goat matriarch, and ask where the goats were. But I was too afraid I’d see visions of my friendly baby goats (and Lambert, the ram, who was also missing) strung up, with slit throats, bleeding out while some random rednecks guzzled Pabst Blue Ribbon and stoked the fire pit. Our friends and neighbors were all too happy to support this theory. In the deepest, darkest depths of L.A. (Lower Alabama), people’s goats have been known to disappear around holidays like the 4th of July and Labor Day.

So, while I could have connected-in with Gregory or Esmeralda, I knew I wouldn’t have the required emotional detachment to get a clear connection, so I didn’t even try. Every time Hans reminded me that I might consider accessing my super-powers of animal communication, I said, “Maybe tomorrow.” I could have asked any of my students or animal-communicator friends to check in for me, but I wasn’t ready to hear, even from a distance, that the most-terrible-thing I feared might have happened to my trusting, friendly goats, who had probably blithely followed the allure of a promised stalk of celery into someone’s rusty lawn trailer.

Five days after the goats and Lambert had disappeared, and I had given them up for lost-and-gone-forever, I decided that I would be detached enough to connect in that very night to find out what had happened. I felt that I had gained enough emotional distance to weather whatever disturbing visions I was almost certain to see.

I had some errands to run first, but I promised Hans, myself, and my poor dead goats that I would do it when I got home. One of my errands required me to go down into the basement to get some packing material, and there… you guessed it… were the missing goats, and Lambert, the ram. Stuck in the basement. For five days. Climbing on tables and shelves, knocking down everything that wasn’t nailed down. Knocking it down, then shitting on it. For five days.

We are talking about a 900 square-foot art-studio space filled with work tables and shelves packed with clay and greenware and molds and clay additives and glazes and glass bottles (for melting in the kiln) and all manner of art tools and partially-finished art projects in all stages of development. These four goats and one ram had a high old time climbing on, knocking over, and then pissing and shitting on everything in that studio that had been, at some point, less than six feet off the ground.

Oh, the mess! Oh, the stench! Oh, the incredible amount of time and effort it would take to recover from such disaster. I had just discovered my own mini-Puerto Rico (prayers going out for y’all after the hurricane) in the basement.

Luckily, the baby goats were still nursing, so they didn’t starve. Luckily, the buckets of clay soaking in water gave them all some hydration. Luckily, goats–and apparently, sheep–are happy to eat cardboard and paper, which was plentiful in the basement.

How does such a thing happen, you may ask. Maybe Mr. Magoo opened the basement door (which very conveniently leads into the goat field) and the goats decided to waltz right in, which was a fine idea until the door they had waltzed through was pushed shut by the growing pile of scattered and broken and shat-on bottles and clay shards that the goat’s tabletop jamboree had built, steadily and inexorably, inch by inch and foot by foot.

I think it must have been a lot like being invited to the greatest party in the history of the universe, only to find that there was no way to leave. Such forced gaiety, such unending fun, reminds me of the one time in college (okay, two times, maybe three) that I tried LSD. Fun is only fun until it isn’t, and then, all you want to do is go home and sleep it off. Which these poor goats didn’t get to do for five days.

Even though LSD (which, for the record, I don’t recommend, at all) wears off after 24 hours, I can, unfortunately, relate.

The moral of this story? First, don’t do LSD. Second, trust yourself, and don’t immediately imagine that the worst case scenario is what will happen.

Specifically, if you’re an animal communicator, maybe you should consider that your worst fears can’t even begin to address the true facts of a situation (because it could, in fact, be much, much worse).

My fear of seeing the technicolor replay of my poor, trusting goats being betrayed by ruthless humans determined to dine on a couple-hundred pounds of free barbecue stopped me from asking the one simple question that would have set my goats free sooner (when they’d only created maybe two-inches-deep x 900 square feet of goat-shat-destruction) rather than later (at 12-inches-deep x 900 square feet of goat-shat-destruction).

I guess that as humans, being able to imagine the worst thing that could happen is a survival skill that serves us well. But sometimes, our worst-case-scenario imaginings aren’t equal to the task, at all. Sometimes, we’d be much better served to come at everything with innocent eyes, and see what there is to see without prejudging what it might be.

Just go ahead and trust yourself. And don’t ever do LSD. That’s all.

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