Monday, August 18, 2008

Early Morning Panic!

Sassafras - up close an personal (and in a panic-free state)

What a morning!

I awoke at my normal time, fed the dogs and the cat and was prepping the stuff for milking Sass when I started to hear the gate rattle. I glanced outside and saw Sass and Buddy running around the yard like they were crazed. I didn't understand what was going on, so I put on my shoes and grabbed my sweatshirt to go and investigate. Next thing I know, I hear Sass bleating at the top of her lungs from the gate. I tear outside and stop short in my tracks for a half a second as I see what is upsetting the goats. The field behind our goat field is full of buffalo of all sizes - running around like they are puppies. I've never seen such activity from such HUGE beasts (that look so prehistoric!). I'm standing there for a few seconds, as the dogs ran into my legs (I'd stopped right in front of the dog door). They too came up short as they stared into the field for a second or two. Then they started barking like crazy while I snapped out of my awe and ran to the goat gate.

Turns out, Sass had broken the carbeaner holding the chain and bent the fence latch open just enough to get herself stuck in it. She had gotten her head and shoulders through but then it had closed again around her middle and she couldn't get either in or out. I held her with my legs while I got the latch undone and released her. I led her back into the fenced area against her will and tried to secure the gate behind me as best I could. It was pretty mangled. Meanwhile, the dogs are barking like mad - and I can hear H (still in bed) yelling for Charlie to shut up. I can't leave the gate as Sass is clearly terrified and repeatedly throwing her body against it. When she realized that wasn't getting her the desired result, she started running at the gate in an attempt to jump over it! I'm trying to calm her down, but frankly, I was a bit freaked out too. I've never seen buffalo so active - and I just started having visions of what would happen if they decided that they wanted into our yard. Would that fence hold them? I doubt it! I know ours certainly wouldn't! Do buffalo attack people? Goats? Dogs?

Sass was wild-eyed, shaking, tossing her head...totally freaking out. The buffalo were HUGE - and two of the biggest ones were right next to their fence which put them all of 5 feet from our fence! One of them started eating the bark off a tree that stands between the two properties. I was doing everything I could to keep my imagination from running away with me - I didn't want Sass to sense any more fear in me than she'd probably already noticed.

Luckily, the barking dogs got H out of bed. He came to the door and was yelling at them while I was yelling to him to come help me. He didn't have his glasses on, so he didn't see the buffalo! Once he'd put on shoes and his glasses, he came out to help. While I held the gate, he went to scare off the buffalo. All but a couple of them had already moved up the field and out of our view already. He managed to encourage the last two to leave as well. Then he held the gate while I ran and got the milking stuff. He had to help me as it was hard to calm Sass down enough that I could milk her. Once we'd done that, we took turns guarding the gate while the other person ran chores. I filled their water and hay, then he got a new chain and tried to bend the gate back. We managed to secure it as best we could and by then, Sass had returned to normal. As all this was going on, poor Buddy was so confused. He kept following Sass, but instead of her being a comfort to him, she was freaking him out. Luckily, he didn't seem to be disturbed by the buffalo.

Then the thunder started! Yes, rain...for the first time in like 2 months! I put some fresh hay in the lean-to for the goats to bed on and luckily, as long as it's raining, they'll probably stay in there and not see if the buffalo come back. Had I not been there this morning, Sass would have likely either severely hurt herself on the gate, or gotten out and probably gotten run over. I pray that nothing happens while I am at work today.

Though, if it weren't for the goat panic, I might have enjoyed the experience of seeing the buffalo playing in the field. They are pretty awe-inspiring beasts up close. (and no, I did not think to grab my camera, so I have no pictures to share...not that I had a spare hand with which to take one anyway!).


Carrie Anne said...

Hmmm...on the yogurt - you can try adding gelatin, or you can try cow's milk (just to make sure you're doing everything right), and then go back to what you're trying to use. I've sometimes had better results using store bought yogurt as a starter as opposed to the powdered stuff. Worth a thought.

Carrie Anne

Anonymous said...

I don't think buffalo attack dogs, goats or people, but if they were spooked they could wreak havoc! I hope you are enjoying your 'simple' life, but it sounds less than simple to me. Have you given any thought to beekeeping? I don't want you to be able to slow down......ha ha! Just another project to keep in mind.