Living and growing a family in the North awards you with a real and tangible connection to the land. As a mother of 5 and as a home baker and wannabe chef, it is this connection that seeps into everything - motherhood, food, harvesting, and experiencing the very heartbeat of the bit of earth that sustains us.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
We shared Blind Creek with about 20 horses, 15 pigs, (the wild looking ones with the tusks, not the cute pink ones) 400 chickens,(the smell made your eyes water) 3 dogs, 3 cats and 4 goats, one of which was named Eli. Eli hated me right from the beginning. I don't know why, I have always loved animals, and animals generally love me back. Eli was big for a goat, he had big horns sprouting from the top of his head that he could scratch his back with. Eli had yellow eyes that bore right through you, and a big white bell hanging from his chin that swung back and forth as he walked. Maybe he sensed my disgust, when we first pulled up in our blue 2 door Sundance, when I caught him urinating into his own mouth. Don't ask me how he did it, but he did. I had never seen an animal do this before, and I stared, wrinkling my nose and he stared back with those yellow eyes.
Later, as we were packing our meager belongings into the cabin we were to call home, Eli strolled over to our Sundance and proceded to tear the mirrors off it. I chased him off, yelling and waving Dustin's baby blanket at him. From here on in, the feeling of hatred was mutual.
Eli would wait for me in the morning, when I had to walk from our cabin to the main house to help with breakfast. He would hide behind our wood pile, and when I got to where he could get behind me and block my escape back inside the cabin, he would come out. Almost every day spent on that farm, I ran from Eli. The first time he went to charge me as I went out to get a load of wood, I thought he was bluffing as he reared up on his hind legs and pawed the dirt up on the ground, and I laughed because he looked funny. Then when he came at me at a full gallop, I ran and climbed up on top of the wood pile. I yelled for T.J who came out of the cabin. The goat immediatly backed away and became submissive and T.J looked at me like I was the crazy one. He told me that I just had to let the goat know who was boss, after all, it was only a goat, nothing to be scared of.
I started carrying around an axe. The next time Eli charged, I let him come and when he reared up to butt me, I hit him right in the head with the axe. That didn't even stun him, he just got madder and continued to rear up and paw at me with his hoofs. I held him off (sort of) with the axe as I retreated back to the top of the woodpile. Next I tried throwing a bucket of cold water at him, then I tried an air horn. His hate for me grew.
My battles with Eli greatly amused TJ, who thought I was imagining things until one day he saw me tearing across the yard, Dustin in one arm and an axe in the other, Eli hot on our heels. He gave me a thick leather whip. From then on, I cracked the whip as soon as I stepped outside, just to let Eli know I was ready for him. He would slink out from behind the wood pile, and follow to the main house, bleating at me the whole way. He stayed just out of the whips reach, and believe me, I tried to get him with it. I started chasing him - it felt great.
I also found that I could ride horses everywhere, Eli would chase the horse around but at least he couldn't get at me way up there. I would stand on a log, prop Dustin up there on the horse and hang onto him as I swung myself up. We rode to the outhouse, to the henhouse to collect the eggs, to the main house to do our chores there. When I left Blind Creek in the summer, our car had no mirrors, one headlight was punched out and there were long gouges along both sides. I smiled when, a couple years later when we were chatting with our employer on the phone and he told us that he caught Eli ripping the mirror off HIS truck. He shot him dead on the spot. Stupid goat.