Monday, February 3, 2014

The goat who couldn't leave

A bit of recent history, to establish the scene.

February 2 was a bright, cool, sunny day. I did a bunch of weeding, cleaned the barn and finally, months after the ducks are gone, I cleaned and aired out the massively overbuilt shelter they slept in.

Later that same, glorious day, the Seahawks won the Superbowl.

Everyone in the greater Seattle area went crazy.

Until a few years ago, our neighborhood of Boulevard Park was unincorporated, not part of any city. Old habits die hard, and folks in this neighborhood celebrate most big events with huge firework displays. It started midway through the third quarter and went on for hours.

The sky was a spectacle, with huge fountains, rockets, etc., and of course the noise that goes with it. I went out to check on the animals; everyone seemed calm.

The next morning when I went out to feed them, the hens and Meggie came running. And I heard Lightning's voice, but couldn't find her. Until...

How did she even fit in there?

There she was, peeking out of the duck pen. At first I thought she was being shy. Maybe the noise had scared her and she was reluctant to come out.


But soon it became clear that she couldn't get out the way she came in.

I tried coaxing her feet out, but her belly was getting squeezed and she was freaking out, in a confined area.

Trying to drag or entice her out seemed like a recipe for her getting injured.

There is a second door out into a little fenced enclosure. It's a bird sized door, about the size of a sheet of paper. But she tried several times to get through it. Sorry, dear, no.

At this point I was dearly regretting the massive size and overbuilding of this structure. It was designed as a portable 'chicken tractor' to be rolled from place to place, so that chickens always have new ground to forage. But like many things, we tried unsuccessfully to combine two incompatible qualities - solidity and portability. The enclosure is raccoon proof. But it is also so heavy, its wheels have buried themselves in the mud and it's going nowhere.

Luckily, there was one more option to try. The back of the pen has a third door, bigger, for cleaning. But it wasn't raccoon-proof, so we moved the water trough in front of it to block it.

 I love our water trough. It provides all the water the animals need for 9 months of the year. It stands under the downspout from the barn, capturing water and keeping the ground around the walls from turning to mud. A spout at the bottom lets us water the plants, or just drain it.

Unfortunately, for all its merit, the trough is a huge obstacle right at the moment. Nothing can get in or out without moving 125 gallons of ice water!

 I opened the spigot at the bottom. Usually I do that, then go do other tasks - sometimes for hours. I didn't like that plan. Then I took the big pump. It can drain about 2 quarts per pump. But that is still a really lot of pumping. Ultimately I bailed the tank out, bucket by bucket and finally flopped it over on its side. It took a lot of 4 gallon bucket fulls to drain that puppy!

And then - the lock was rusted shut.

Finally I was able to pry open the lock, dig the bottom of the door out of the muck and free Lightning!

Here she is, stretching her legs. Her body language is not as exuberant as normal. Her ears are down and her tail is tight against her legs. She was about as unhappy as I've ever seen her.
But I didn't realize until a few minutes later what the big problem was. She had been waiting all night for this.

My potty trained goat wouldn't pee in the coop and she wouldn't pee on the grass or the soil. It had to be in the wood chips. Once she started it was like she was never going to stop. I didn't realize how trained she was.

Now I have the door closed again. I would like to think that Lightning has learned not to do this, but she's a bit of a risk taker and I don't want to go through that process again.
Meanwhile, Lightning has already moved on to her next adventure. (This is an old picture but I had to run after extriacating her).

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