You would think that going for a walk along a secluded country road would be the very definition of serene.
How could it be anything but? There you are surrounded by forest and fields, nary a building in sight. No horns honking, sirens wailing or having to pause for walk signals.
I am a run walker, meaning I like to run the first few hundred metres to get all those cardio things happening and then I like to walk the rest of the way so I can appreciate nature without wheezing along like a cat trapped inside an accordion during a polka.
Unfortunately it’s hard to sneak out of our yard on the run, even if I wasn’t wheezing.
When it comes to animals anything that’s running is a real attention grabber. Movement catches the eye and all that. Everyone knows not to run from a bear or a tiger since their natural instinct is to chase and chew on anything that appears to be in a hurry. What you might not have guessed is that the same rule applies to goats.
I learned this lesson the hard way a couple summers ago. Normally our goats were content to stay inside their pasture but if properly motivated they could sail over the confines of their fence with the greatest of ease. Our driveway goes along one length of the summer goat and sheep pasture. One fine spring afternoon shortly after moving the animals into their summer digs, I set out for my run and walk.
As I huffed along my interesting gamboling movements caused the goats to yank their heads up out of the grass and come capering over to the fence.
They then proceeded to run along beside me. This would have been rather alarming had they been a trio of grizzly bears, as it were, I was quite entertained by the spectacle. Forget dancing with wolves, I was running with goats! When I hit the end of the driveway I hung a left, waved a good bye to the goats over my shoulder and jogged up onto the main road, expecting this would be where the goats and I would part company. Sadly, this was not the case.
Unfortunately I didn’t realize the fence had failed to deter the trio until I had run a good few hundred metres and happened to glance back over my shoulder. To my horror there was Pancake, Alaska and Zippy all galloping happily along right behind me.
And that’s when I heard a vehicle approaching from around the bend. Of course I did. My heart dropped to the bottom of my ratty running shoes. Even if you’re sporting the latest jogging gear, sunglasses and a sweat band on your wrist — which I wasn’t — there’s no way to look cool when your jogging companions are goats.
It’s not unusual to come upon local folk out walking in the country. Sometimes they have their kids along on bicycles, or toddlers in a stroller. Sometimes they are even accompanied by a dog. But goats? Alas, I’m afraid that distinction has been reserved solely for me to the immense entertainment of my neighbours.
If I was a quick thinker, perhaps I could have grabbed a stick and pretended to be industriously herding the goats along to take advantage of the new grass that always grows taller along the roadside. But if I was a quick thinker I wouldn’t have a goat, let alone three of them.
As the vehicle came around the bend the best I could hope for was a city slicker who would mistake the goats for baby deer and be amazed. Maybe the driver would think I was some kind of deer whisperer.
But no such luck. As the pickup came into view I could see by the expression on the driver’s face that his Christmas had come early. Spread out on the road before him was an unexpected gift; a story that would earn him a second cup of coffee from all the neighbours for the rest of the summer and probably a plate of homemade cookies to go with it.
Rolling down his window the driver leaned on his elbow, poked his head out and casually said, “When you’re finished here I’ve got a couple cows you can take out for a stroll.”
It’s been two whole years and I still haven’t come up with a witty reply.
Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River country. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org