Sunday, May 07, 2006

Fencing as a Competitive Sport

No, I don't mean the kind with the pointy stick and the beekeepers hat. I mean the kind that farmers rely on to keep animals in (or out, depending on your perspective). Really, it should be another category in rodeo I think, because it is man (or woman)against beast - just like the guys who try to ride the bulls. Meet my opponent, Clio.

The challenging look in her eyes is her way of calling me out. 

The setting: the goat pen on the lower lot. It has been constructed with dedicated thought to goat containment and safety. (But didn't someone say the only fence that can hold a goat is one that can hold back water??) 

The time: Tuesday, 6:38 a.m. (Yes, in the morning. That's not a typo..) After I take them for a walk, and give them their grain, she gets "the look" in her eye, circles the pen, begins her take-off, and flies over the top fence rail on the side. Now, this is after a full hour session adding a fifth rail to the fence all along the front side just two days before. (See, part of the competitive nature of this sport, and advantage to the animal, is that they pick the time and place...) Mind you, I have to go to work in less than a half an hour - so let the games begin!

I coyly sidle up to her and grab her halter and quickly leash her to the post. Then I run across the lower lot, across the road, and up the hill to the house. Burst in the back door, pant out "Drill!" to my husband, and wait (sucking wind) while he retrieves the cordless drill from downstairs. The handoff is as seamless as Olympic relay racers, and off I run. Get back down there and discover there is no drill bit in the drill. Run across the lower lot, across the road and up the hill to the house. Discover husband has left the kitchen, so I bolt indoors and down cellar for the drill bit (didn't have enough wind to speak and ask for the bit anyway). Back upstairs and jogging down to the lower lot. Grab the piece of tape measure I have left down there and measure the distance on all the posts. Quickly manuever my way into the goat shed and grab 6 brackets. Throw those and a bunch of screws in my pocket, and back to the fence. Holding a mouthful of screws, I put the first bracket in place, and attempt to position the drill. Cicero, the other goat, (and teammate of the jumper) begins to chew on my coat. It's this year's coat, and too nice to have holes in it quite yet, so I have to swat him off while drilling. Drill, swat, drill, swat, drill, swat and I have two brackets up. Drill, swat, drill, swat, drill, swat, and I have two more. Now the last two are on a section that is bordered by thick wild rose bushes. I drive through the prickers and get in place. But Cicero is wily, and he decides to switch tactics. Now he cranes his neck over the existing fence and grabs a mouthful of roses and begins to munch. With each munch, he is pulling the branches of thorns to him and across the back of my neck. I have to pull out my last defense, a strong move, but necessary if I am to succeed, I swat him a stinging blow across the nose, and he retreats looking very put off. Now for the wood rails. 

Grab a 2x3 and measure the length by eye. Mark it, and grab the bow saw. Sawing like mad, I get the first rail done and in place. I am working on the second, when after consultation with Clio, Cicero comes back for his final maneuver. He pushes up from underneath on the new rail, and dislodges it. So I put rail#2 in place, secure this one with another screw, and return to #1. Jam that one in place, screw in two to hold it secure, and go for the third rail. Push past the thorns again, and measure the rail. Cicero looks like he is going to try the "eating the roses" move again, but I throw him a glare that gets him to retreat long enough to make the measurement. I cut the last rail (sweating profusely at this point, despite the 48 degree temperatures) and put it in place. Now I collect my tools, and race around to the place where I had Clio held. I yank the leash off her, and shove her back in the pen. 

Now the test: she scopes out my work, looking for flaws, decides to round the pen anyway, picking up speed, her lift-off is clean, she leaps - and Hah! she can't make it over! I have won this round! And in record speed! Only 18 minutes! There's roaring in my ears, (I'd like to imagine it is a cheering crowd, but in reality it is my blood pounding through my veins in a valiant attempt to get oxygen to my brain before I pass out) and a tingling in my legs (muscle fatigue, not excitement), and I wobble up the hill, and in the back door and my husband greets me, "Do you know you only have 5 minutes to get cleaned up? You don't have time to be playing with the goats..."

See...I told you it was a sport.


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Let me tell you, if you don't win at medal in the fencing competition, I'm sure you could win a journalism prize for your reporting. :-) Sure am glad to have found your blog - and sure am glad I no longer have goats!

melanie said...

Well, Michelle...goats were my first choice, albeit an un-educated choice. Once I got the Shetlands, I understood the error of my ways. I keep the goats because they're fuzzy, and I may someday want goat's milk.(and I need to be periodically reminded that I am stupider than a goat)