Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Goat Herd for a Day

I was relaxing in my campsite after a water-and-WIFI run into Bishop, watching a spectacular cloud show, when odd noises behing me made me jump up and spin around; three nanny goats nibbling weeds in "my" campsite. Wary of their horns, I followed them up the road with my camera. As I walked back to my campsite, they followed me. I think that by following them, I became a "goat herd," and, for lack of any other, "their" goatherd. They followed me baa-ing and nibbling my pockets, down Pot Hole Trail to Duane's site, where I could ask, "So, what's with the goats?"

Duane had adopted them earlier in the day, in spite of his old black Lab dog who barked at, but was too arthritic to chase, the goats, who stood to face their challenger with lowered horns but essentially did not flinch. Adjacent LTVA vehicle campers clustered around and I met my neighbors Ray from Redondo, Doug on a dirtbike, Mike, and Alice whose chicken was taking too long to cook. Ray agreed with me that the goats behaved like pets, not range animals, but Duane was indignant, saying they were free-range goats. While we were discussing the goats, my neighbors kindly shared information with me: where I could load water from a single public spigot, get cheap or free meals, boxed dry goods handouts, and a free shower; "The Ropes," said Duane, of the BLM camping lifestyle. Meanwhile, the goats ate his garbage and started in on his towels.

I walked back up Pot Hole Lane to my campsite, and the awfully cute and very affectionate goats followed me again, baa-ing, then dispersed into the chaparral. Goats are a little like cats, they "follow" by criss-crossing in front of you and getting tangled up in your ankles. Since it was too late and too windy to cook, I was pouring granola into a bowl for supper when I was cereal-jacked by three table-climbing goats in a feeding frenzy. I abandoned my supper and opened my truck cab door to get my cell phone and call someone, anyone, about lost and hungry goats. Right behind me, they tried to climb into the Tacoma and ransack the front seat for anything chewable. One sucked up my AAA map and started munching, so I grabbed her horns and twisted her cute little head out of my bag before she could eat my wallet. They milled around, looking puzzled.

So I drove my truck back down Pothole Hill Drive to Duane's site, followed by three trotting, jumping, baa-ing goats. I had thought to drive to a nearby ranch house and ask if they knew anything about missing goats, but Duane became upset. He lectured me, beer in hand, about being a city girl with no understanding of animals roaming free, while Doug, shaking his head, calmly walked downhill with the goats following him; the wild, free-spirited goats who were obviously in need of a real goatherd and a scoop apiece from a 50 lb. bag of Goat Kibble. I rumbled back uphill to my scraps of granola.

No sign of goats this morning. Guess I'll find out sometime if a local Dad in a pickup with his third grade 4-H Club kid came around to collect her prize pet goats.

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