In this case, the “thing” was a goat. Every backyard farmer is familiar with this slippery slope; for me it began with thirty adorable baby chicks. Eighteen months later I’m feeding three dogs, geese, turkeys, ducks and now, goats.
This June our next door neighbors offered to give us their baby goat as soon as he was weaned. I carefully considered the offer and decided to stay strong and set some limits to the chaos in my life. “We can always get a goat later,” I said. Then very next day we hear two month old Pluto crying for hours- I assumed he was being weaned. That evening we walked over to check on him and my heart broke to see that his back leg was broken and dangling, apparently from the trauma of his billy goat daddy butting him. So we did what we always do- swept him up and nursed him back to health. For two weeks Pluto lived in my youngest daughter’s closet and enjoyed being carried everywhere as his splinted leg healed. In that time, he became convinced he was a puppy and delighted in napping and frolicking with the dogs. He even started “barking” and chasing cars (they run along the inside of our fence.) Being the true goat that he was, he found trouble on a daily basis. I had forgiven the mowed down begonias, pruned blueberry bushes and broken flower pots- but we had to draw a line at jumping on the clay pizza oven and playing king of the mountain on the cars in our driveway.
Poor Pluto was forced to live behind a fence on a beautiful one-acre pasture with the geese and he cried all day long in loneliness. Goats are social creatures, and means he could no longer play with the dogs we needed to acquire another goat, quickly. Finding no free offers, we decided to buy a nanny and have the option to breed and sell in order to recoup our costs. The next day we visited a Kiko goat farm and the family allowed us to buy their adorable “pet” nanny. She was four months old (same age as Pluto), sweet and snuggly. Come to find out, goats can get pregnant too young (I naively assumed such things happened when they were supposed to) and we were distressed to see Pluto take one sniff of this darling nanny and immediately bypass friendship and jump (literaly) into breeding (a few weeks of goat ownership explains so much of mythology and cultural goat references.) If we were going to keep both of them, Pluto had to be fixed. We quickly separated them and hauled Pluto to the goat farmer first thing the next morning for banding. The story took a turn when we found out he was too big to be banded and had to be castrated. I was in for yet another sleepless night as two lonely adolescent goats cried all night to be together. Next morning, we desperately called around and found the soonest we could get him castrated was ten days away. This wasn’t going to work!
I couldn’t endure two bawling, lonely goats for ten more days. Time for plan “C”. A neighbor wanted another goat as companion for his older nanny who lost her kids, so Pluto was rehomed to a situation where he will be loved and spoiled and we returned to the goat farm for another nanny of a similar age. Next year my daughter can breed them and learn animal husbandry. So that’s how we ended up unexpectedly losing our pet Pluto and buying two new goats within forty-eight hours.
This last week was a flurry unexpected challenges and quick decisions as we tried to manage this growing, unplanned petting zoo. While being nuzzled by my new nannies, I’ve been pondering the many situations where one thing led to another, and how enriched my life has been for the unforeseen outcomes. Falling in love with Scott just happened, but marrying him was the best decision I ever made- and boy did that lead from one thing to another, starting with baby after baby- five in seven years! Along with a houseful of offspring, we have adventured from one crazy leap of faith to another and our lives have been filled to the brim. Our careers, originally pursued as sources of income, have enriched our lives beyond our greatest expectations. Foster parenting led to adoption which led to gaining another family as we connected to our son’s sister and her adoptive mom, along with their natural family. All that love and comradery was unexpected. As our children have grown and connected with other people, we have also been blessed with kinship. Joining Youth with a Mission and serving overseas has connected us with dozens of amazing people all over the world and given us some of our most valued, lifelong friendships. Ultimately, following Jesus has led me from one amazing/ hard/ delightful/ challenging / extraordinary thing to another. I am grateful to belong to the Good Shepherd; the pastures He leads me to satisfy my soul.
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.