A Goat in the Garage
By Cindy Hale
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
It was an odd twist on a line from a famous Christmas carol. “I’ll be home for Christmas,” in this instance could’ve referred to Gabby, my mom’s pet Pygmy goat. Many years ago Gabby served as a companion to one of our orphan foals. Now she’s sort of the mascot of my parents’ small ranch. She has a perfectly fine two-story goat house just outside my parents’ house, but sometimes that abode is not adequately furnished, at least not in Gabby’s mind. Such was the case this Christmas.
You see, we had a lot of rain out here. Southern California—which is actually an immense desert paved over with freeways, shopping centers and tract homes—was inundated with four straight days of unrelenting rain. Downpours. Non-stop. Hours on end. While we’d had some warning, no one expected such a thwacking from Mother Nature. Though Wally and Danny were hunkered down, out of the severe weather, a few of the corrals at my parents’ place became temporary lakes. I got a phone call early one morning, just as I was wrapping presents, and my mother begged me to come rescue Cowboy, who’d been living in one of the old foaling stalls.
“Overnight the water came in under the stall door,” she said. “Please come take him out and move him into the barn.”
So I put down the spool of curly-cue ribbon, yanked on my rubberized pants and poncho (for the eightieth time that week), and drove my truck across town. The palomino two-year-old was thrilled to leave the soggy foaling stall and get into the barn. Then I decided to trudge into my parents’ garage to shimmy out of my rain gear before climbing back into my truck. When I leaned over to pull off my mucky boots, Gabby was staring me in the face.
“Why is there a goat in your garage?” I asked my mom.
That’s when I got treated to the entire saga of Gabby and her voluntary evacuation of her goat pen. Apparently the mouse-colored ruminant determined that her split-level pen (complete with carpeted stairs and a porch, no less) was not quite as cozy as the garage. When my mom had her back turned while tossing hay to the horses, Gabby bolted from her pen and through the side door into the garage. Then she plopped down in a spare dog bed that was lying in the corner and refused to move. Refugee status appealed to her.
The situation became complicated because every time someone tried to get into the house via the backdoor, Gabby would try to wedge past them and sneak inside to the kitchen. Even in our family, goats are not allowed at the breakfast table. Occasionally my father’s Labradoodle would try to nose his way out the backdoor to the garage to harass the goat that was lying in his former bed. As you can imagine, the entire scene became a chaotic rain-soaked mess of animal hair, muddy paw prints, hoof scratches and assorted smells. Add to that loud admonitions of, “Close the dang door! Hurry!” It wasn’t exactly Silent Night at the old family homestead.
Fortunately, the monsoonal rains ended just before Christmas Eve. I folded up my rain gear and stashed it away. The sun shone and the corrals began to dry out. As if it were the sign of a holiday promise, a stunning double rainbow arched across the sky. And Gabby the goat rose from her dog bed, gave herself a shake, and moved out of the garage.
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